Reviewer: Prathap Suthan
Prathap Suthan is chief explorer at brand consultancy The Advisory and chief creative officer at iYogi, an information technology company. With around 23 years experience in advertising, Suthan is best known for the India Shining campaign. He has also worked with brands such as Rasna, Samsung and the Incredible India campaign.
The new campaign for Coca-Colaby the creative team at McCann Erickson India showcases brand ambassador Imran Khan sharing his spontaneous “Brrr” reaction after an ice-cold bottle of Coca-Cola.
What did you think of this new campaign?
Well, it’s a great-looking film. And a fine adaptation of a global campaign. But that’s where I get off. While the idea is fizzing with contagious potential, this execution is so YouTube familiar. I’d have liked this film the first time I saw it. But now, I can’t wait for it to finish. Brrr annoys me. Maybe it’s because of my Coke habit. Been an addict since the mid-1980s—when I lived in the US. I was part of the vox populi that booed New Coke, bayed for the return of Classic Coke, and I still avoid Ruby Tuesday (a restaurant chain) because they serve only Pepsi. For someone like me on the wrong side of 40, and for someone like my son who’s on the right side of 18, Brrr is irritating.
How does the campaign compare with earlier Coca-Cola ads?
Coke has forever been non-maverick. Unlike Pepsi. It’s been clean, pure, urbane fun. Suddenly, this is adulterated Coke. The idea isn’t right for our market. Brrr is more of an English expression, and I doubt if it’d mean cold refreshment to the masses. In fact, I asked my driver if he understood what it meant. And his response not only strengthened my dislike, it also added the layer of mispronunciation.
He called it the Prrr ad. And that sounds disgusting. I have a feeling that’s precisely what is wrong with this. This whole Brrr is a licence for crass to liberate itself. I am not a prude. Neither am I condescending. It may be cute when a two-year-old starts Prrring, but in the mouths of the uncouth, this could get nasty.
Do you think this campaign works for Coca-Cola as they head into one of the busiest seasons for the cola category?
Brrr has been a success in many countries. And that’s got to do with the familiarity of the expression. But in India, this is a new expression. People have to first accept it as the sound of cool refreshment. To me, that’s the googly. I cannot bring myself to say Brrr. And neither will anyone sensible, when riff-raffs Prrr around. I also don’t think many Indian teenagers would Brrr. Aspiration wise, the average teenager who gets infected will feel silly to Brrr. Though he would have if the brand were a beer. The little lot, who will Brrr, unfortunately won’t get the cool layering. But with the Dil Scoop, the Helicopter Shot, the Slinga, the Doosra far cooler at the Wankhede today, they’d Upar Cut Coke out of their lives. Versus Pepsi, Brrr won’t change the game. Grrr.