A refreshing new take on Relationships

There is palpable excitement in the crowd as it waits for singer-actor Diljit Dosanjh to make an appearance on the YouTube FanFest stage in Mumbai. As soon as the performer walks on to the stage, the crowd screams in unison and then joins him as he belts out his hit song ‘Do You Know.’

Among the crowd are Pooja Sawant and Priya Rai. The two friends, who have spent a fair bit of the evening cheering on their YouTube heroes, decide to take a drink break. Out comes a can of Coke, and the two take swigs of the refreshing beverage. Then, as if on cue, Diljit greets his fans and announces the ‘Share a Coke’ campaign. The ad on the screen shows two friends who have been through thick and thin and are more like brothers sharing a Coke.

“Well, we’re like that, too,” says Pooja pointing at the screen. “More like sisters than friends.” Priya adds, “And also mutual critics—I edit her fashion choices and she keeps a close eye on my eating habits.”

Friends, sisters, critics. As it did for these two friends, relationships change and evolve over the years. A father may take over the mantle of a best friend, a sister could turn mentor, and a romantic interest could become a best friend.

To celebrate this refreshing new take on relationships, Coca-Cola created the ‘Share A Coke’ campaign in India. In keeping with the campaign’s principal idea ‘Har Rishta Bola, Mere Naam Ki Coca-Cola,’ Coke cans and bottles are now available with 20 special relationships printed on them, including Bae, Bro, Dude, BFF, Dad, Mom, Daughter, etc. Each of these relationships comes with a descriptor. ‘Bro— Troublemaker. Merrymaker,’ ‘Grandad—Old School. Yet Cool,’ ‘Grandma—Scolds me. Spoils Me.’ Since these relationships are special, the idea of the campaign is to look at them in a whole new way, and celebrate their uniqueness.

A worldwide hit

The ‘Share A Coke’ campaign was first launched in Australia in 2011, as an exciting new concept of identifying ways in which consumers could share their favorite beverage with friends and family. Initially named ‘Project Connect,’ the campaign entailed new packaging that had the ‘Share a Coke’ logo followed by one of 150 names popular in Australia.

The campaign took personalization to a whole new level, connecting emotionally with consumers, and enjoyed tremendous success with the young adults in Australia. In the following years, it made its way around the world as ‘Share A Coke,’ getting a new spin in different regions – with popular film dialogues, film names, songs and designations printed on the labels.

In the UK, the campaign first launched in 2013 with popular names. Following its success, in 2017, the labels had names of popular cities and holiday destinations from around the world.

The India flavor

For the summer of 2018, Coca-Cola has decided to bring the campaign to India. Instead of simply replicating the original idea, the team decided to co-create the campaign with Indian consumers. The idea was to make it relevant for the Indian consumers. Ajay Bathija, Director-Cola, Coca-Cola India, says, “We decided to conduct a survey among our target audience of 18–29 year olds to identify what the campaign should be all about. In the first stage, we shared five concepts with them—name, designations, relationships, film dialogues, film names—and asked them to pick what resonated with them the most. Most participants chose relationships. Given how relationships are ingrained in the very fabric of Indian society, it wasn’t a big surprise for us.”

Participants were also asked to list their top 20 relationships and the most popular ones made their way to the bottles. The process helped Coca-Cola understand the relationships that are most significant to today’s youth. Perhaps the most insightful part of the survey was the descriptors that accompanied the relationships—a reflection of the changed nuances of relationships today.

“As a 35-year-old I would describe my Dad as ‘My Mentor. My Guru.’ But the youth would describe the relationship as ‘My Champ. My ATM’,” says Ajay. “We discovered that teens don’t view relationships in a linear fashion. It is this refreshing take on relationships that is the core of our communication.” 

This campaign aims to give people the opportunity to celebrate relationships that have evolved over the years and reignite them by creating a moment of happiness that comes from sharing a Coke. When Diljit Dosanjh was asked who he would share a coke with, his instant reply was, “My mother.”

Speaking on the campaign’s potential and power to reach out to all Indians, Asha Sekhar, Director- Media at Coca-Cola India & South West Asia says, “We believe ‘Share a Coke’ has the power to reach consumers one at a time and eventually touch a billion hearts.” To forge an even deeper connect, and spread its reach to various corners of India the brand will be launching the campaign in 12 local languages, including, Tamil, Telugu, Malayalam, Kannada, Assamese, Oriya, Bengali, Gujarati, Marathi and Punjabi, besides English and Hindi.

A whole new way to connect
The campaign comes at a time when the relationship between brands and consumers is also evolving. In this time of information overload, brands are working harder than ever to connect and engage with a young audience.

In a departure from standard marketing techniques, Coca-Cola decided to rely on the power of conversations, instead of one-way communication. So instead of the TVC-Billboard-Newspaper Ad blitzkrieg or any prior announcement, Coca-Cola decided to let the consumers experience the campaign directly through on-shelf products.   

The decision paid off.

“We wanted our products to communicate directly with the consumer. Slowly, we saw conversations starting on various social media platforms. People started sharing photos of the cans online, and that is how we launched ‘Share a Coke’ in India,” says Asha.

The campaign was rolled out at unique youth-centric platforms like the YouTube FanFest. The idea was to have direct conversations with its target audience. “For us, YouTube FanFest celebrates self-expression and has been the perfect platform to connect with today’s youth,” says Asha. In the coming days, the campaign will also be seen on various platforms like TV etc.

At the Mumbai YouTube FanFest, Coca-Cola came up with various innovative and interactive activities to engage with the consumers. Giant screens displayed Coke bottles where people could put names and messages on the bottle. “My friend put in my name! It was really exciting to see it being displayed on so many screens. I have taken a photo with the bottle to share the moment with everyone,” says Manthan Thakkar, a fan who attended the FanFest.

There was also a screen with Coke’s brand ambassador Diljit Dosanjh where people could pose and take photos with him, and a selfie wall with the iconic Coke branding. “Gone are the days when only TVC and ATL campaigns were the only options for brands. Today we need to think of innovative ways to get the attention of today’s youth and co-creating with them is an effective strategy,” says Ajay.

Along with Coke, Sprite too harnessed the passion of today’s youth to get the brand’s message across. Through its Creator Camp initiative, it reached out to many YouTube content creators who were asked to share their take on Sprite. Sprite’s Twitter handle leveraged the power of co-creation by tweeting and interacting with consumers in local languages.

In the coming months, Coca-Cola has planned various activities to keep the excitement alive. “Coke is the sponsor for IPL on Hotstar where we will be advertising. We have also tied up with some of the IPL teams. We are working with a variety of YouTubers to create buzz around the campaign,” says Asha. 

Coca-Cola is on a journey of reconnecting and reigniting relationships. With the youth redefining relationships with new perspectives, it promises to be an exciting journey for a brand that is loved by millions around the world.