How Coke Missed On Digital Storytelling For #OpenHappiness In India While Pepsi Scored With #CrashThePepsiIPL

Coke has launched another TVC with Alia and Siddharth as part of #OpenHappiness, however it has ignored digital once again while Pepsi is making waves with #CrashThePepsiIPL

In the Mad Men finale on Sunday night, Don Draper sat in the lotus position and ended his journey with a nod to Coca-Cola’s iconic “Hilltop” spot. That moment has exploded digital consumption around the brand by 991 percent, according to digital marketing platform Amobee. Meanwhile, there were 21,204 tweets around Coca-Cola within three hours of the show’s final moments.

While in India the soft drink company has extended its ongoing happiness campaign with the launch of its latest TVC scripted by Prasoon Joshi and his creative team at McCann Erickson. The brand has once again leveraged its brand ambassadors Siddharth Malhotra and Alia Bhatt to narrate an endearing tale of hesitant first few interactions between a newly-married couple, and how they find comfort with each other, over a bottle of Coca-Cola. The taste of Coca-Cola proves to be the ice breaker between the couple.

The two week old video uploaded on YouTube has fetched more than a million views. The video has also gained another 500K views on its Facebook page. In addition to this the brand has launched a two minute video that focuses on the making of the TVC.

The company release stressed the fact that along with leveraging mass media advertising, the integrated communication plan includes roll-out of an array of touch points, including out-of-home media, digital, point of sale merchandise and on-ground initiatives across all key markets.

Not sure about other offline media initiatives, arguably the most loved cola brand has been silent on social media. Apart from sharing the video on social media, the brand hasn’t extended the mainline thought process on digital, a medium where most of its target audience is spending time.

The same thought process was evident when the brand had launched the first video in the month of March. The video featured the two actors playing college teens with the brand message – ‘Har Dil Yahi Chahe Bas Yeh Taste Mil Jaaye’.

The digital strategy used for the first TVC shared a similar thought process with the latest one - the video was promoted on social media by the brand and the celebrities involved.

Coke misses storytelling on digital while Pepsi scores

At the time of the first TVC launch, the brand stressed the fact that videos will focus on elements that have subtly and sub-consciously got embedded in the consumers’ minds like – the iconic contour bottle design, the tantalising bubbles and the unmistakable sound of the bottle opening. With every new video the story would be taken forward, viewers will be treated to the symbolic elements of a Coke bottle and the bubbling Coke within it, part of the global celebrations this year as the iconic Coke bottle completes 100 years of existence.

Both the stories weaved in the TVCs have a different set up, are appealing with a clear brand message. However the thought process of the videos taking the story forward is all about the bottle and the bubbling Coke, not much of a brand story here. Besides with no strong digital campaign the brand misses out on telling a good story on the medium, specially in a market where it faces stiff competition from Pepsi.

India, the market where Pepsi scores above Coca-Cola introduced the global campaign ‘The New Pepsi Challenge’ prior to Indian Premier League (IPL) T-20 cricket tournament. Pepsi started off its IPL campaign from where it had ended its ICC World Cup 2015 campaign in an effort to engage with the youth around cricket.

At the onset of the IPL8 this year, Pepsi embarked on a courageous move on digital that surely deserves a pat on its back. It handed the brand baton to its fans through the rather disruptive crowdsourcing campaign on social media titled ‘Crash the Pepsi IPL’.

The contest invited fans to make a 30-second commercial showing their love for Pepsi, with the promise that the best ads would be aired during the IPL matches. Apart from their 30 seconds of fame, the winners will also receive a cash prize of Rs.1 lakh.

On the digital front, Pepsi leveraged a number of tactics to reach out to its target consumer group, by teaming up with content creators. In the first phase of the launch, Pepsi created an ad to invite fans to make ads for them and associated it with the campaign website Crash the Pepsi IPL.

In the second phase, the brand tapped into the communities of content creators on the internet – bloggers and YouTubers, to help spread the buzz. To add to it, it also roped in IPL teams to crash the Pepsi IPL. Pepsi launched a blogging contest where bloggers were given the creative freedom to select a theme and write about the ads they have watched. The most quirky posts won vouchers.

It also got popular video creators like The Viral Fever and Being Indian for a Google Plus Hangout. The idea was to promote #CrashThePepsiIPL by inviting people to ask questions to the team regarding tips to make good ads.

With IPL coming to an end, the campaign is in its final leg where the voting lines are closed for choosing the best ad. As a result of this campaign, in the last two months just the Pepsi YouTube channel has gained more than 7K new subscribers bringing in 16 million new views, states Unmetric.


In the last two months the brand uploaded 38 videos of which a majority was created by the community for the campaign. According to Unmetric data, Crash the Pepsi IPL ad with 4 million views is the all time most viewed ad for Pepsi India on YouTube and the user generated Rajma- Upma ad with 2 million views also finds a spot in the top five.

Along with YouTube, Pepsi aggressively focused on Facebook and Twitter which also saw exponential engagement, all thanks to the idea of content co-creation for the #CrashThePepsiIPL campaign.

The biggest challenge for any marketer today is to reach out to the youth. 84 percent of millennials don’t like traditional advertising nor do they trust it, according to a recent study. However, Pepsi with #CrashThePepsiIPL has not only created a platform for aspiring ad film makers, but also paved the path for new trends in digital engagement. Tying up with YouTubers, bloggers and new age media companies Pepsi has given all the more reason for millennials to be involved in brand talk.

Coke, at least in India, is yet to bring in a great intent for digital; it has chosen to stick to the old marketing formula that Bollywood alone sells in India. Young India does not want ads anymore but strong brand stories in which she could play a part. Perhaps it is time to get inspired from Pepsi, Coke!