Ask the average consumer what is common between Thums Up, Maaza and Limca, and chances are they will perhaps say they are all popular Indian softdrinks.
But less known is that all three brands are also part of Coca-Cola Co.’s India product portfolio, one that the global beverages giant has made significant investments in since acquiring them from entrepreneur Ramesh Chauhan in the early nineties.
This problem—of strong brands but weak identity with parent companies—is a dilemma faced by several other companies, including Hindustan Unilever Ltd (HUL), PepsiCo India Holdings Ltd and Dabur India Ltd. “Brands such as Surf, Rin, Liril and Lux have such strong connect with consumers that they have became synonymous with their categories, yet most consumers wouldn’t know about their parentage,” notes Shashi Sinha, chairman, Lodestar Universal Pvt. Ltd, a major media buying agency. “Similarly, most consumers would not know who Aquafina and Kinley belong to.”
Partly to overcome this handicap, several consumer goods companies in India have launched corporate campaigns in the recent past, featuring their portfolio of brands. The phenomenon has been more pronounced this year with companies such as Coca-Cola, Pepsi, HUL, Mother Dairy, Amway, Nestle, among others, launching product-oriented corporate campaigns for the first time ever in the Indian market.
Coca-Cola, for instance, has been running a campaign called “Little Drops of Joy”, which showcases all its local as well as global products across categories such as water, sparkling drinks and juices. Rival PepsiCo has been running a similar print and TV campaign, “One Quality Worldwide”, that shows its entire product portfolio in India.
Clubbing them: Coca-Cola has been running a campaign called ‘Little Drops of Joy’, which showcases all its local as well as global products across categories such as water, sparkling drinks and juices.
Companies, however, attribute different reasons for this initiative. “PepsiCo, globally, cares about the health of the people who enjoy its products and we, in India, want to drive this message across to our consumers. PepsiCo India’s One Quality Worldwide campaign seeks to assure Indian consumers that the quality of its products in India is the same as that in the US and other parts of the world,” says a company spokesperson.
Coca-Cola says its campaign was aimed at giving consumers a more complete idea about the company and its values.
“The campaign has been designed to build awareness among different stakeholders about what we as a company stand for and the way we do business,” says a spokesperson. “The company presents a composite picture of the products we make to the people who work with us to our role in serving the communities we operate in.”
Both Coca-Cola and PepsiCo went through a challenging phase in India owing to the pesticide controversy compounded by increasing health concerns among consumers. Marketing experts see their corporate campaigns as also an attempt to improve their image and renew relationships with consumers both at the product and company level.
“Both companies needed to fight a consumer perception that concerned them more as corporate entities. So, it was a smart move to come up with one central message rather than wasting resources over individual brand campaigns,” said Harish Bijoor who heads his own consulting firm, Harish Bijoor Consults, in Bangalore.
Also, in the recent past, many fast moving consumer goods (FMCG) firms such as Dabur and HUL have either acquired or sold off some of their brands, while some have entered new product categories. A corporate campaign could also reacquaint consumers with such changes.
“We have been adding products to our portfolio at a frantic pace. We spend only 1% ofour total revenues on advertising. If we were to advertise each product individually, it will shoot up our spends immensely,” said R.S. Sodhi, chief general manager ofAmul (from the Gujarat Cooperative Milk Marketing Federation Ltd stable). “A corporate campaign helps create a synergy between individual brands and the core corporate identity. It communicates the core value that a company stands for,” added Lodestar’s Sinha.
Some companies, however, have launched corporate campaigns to highlight thechange in their identity or to celebrate a certain milestone in their journey. HUL, India’s largest advertiser by amount spent, changed its name earlier this year, which is also its 75th anniversary. Its corporate campaign features all its brands under the new corporate name and logo.
Some marketing experts also say a corporate campaign can help a firm establish its credentials as a responsible entity and also help with employee retention. “The battle for market share and talent hunt is the same for all the sectors. A telecom company can also hire an employee working in a fast moving consumer goods company. To curb this, companies are resorting to corporate campaigns, which projects them as a respectable company and a good citizen,” said Kiran Khalap, co-founder, Chlorophyll Brand & Communications Pvt. Ltd, a marketing firm.