Coke vs chai – Here comes a new brand war

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Braving new frontiers in the cola wars!

 

In summers, we usually see some competitive advertisement between Coca Cola and Pepsi as the demand of cold drinks increase but tea is for all seasons and for all moods

 

After Coke targeted chai (tea) in its recent advertising campaign, tea companies have also come out against the brand telling how Pakistan loves chai over everything.

Although efforts have been made to replace water with coke and tea with coffee in some of the previous campaigns, they got little success as water and tea both hold their own importance in the lives of people. Coke has tried to do something different from the longstanding trend of ‘cola wars’ and instead of launching something against its old competitor Pepsi, this time it has challenged tea, which is undoubtedly the favourite drink of the people of Pakistan.

Coke – a product of the Coca Cola Company – has recently come out with two consecutive television commercials (TVC), directed by Asim Raza of Ho Mann Jahan, where coke is given priority over tea. The first ad, starring Sikandar Rizvi of ‘Dekh magar pyar se’ fame and Aisha Linnea Akhtar, takes the audience to an office environment where the female employee (Akhtar) is enthralled by the looks of male colleague (Rizvi) when he opens a bottle of chilled coke. Hence, she pushes the cup of tea aside and goes for the coke.

Coke has also made the use of Madam Noor Jahan’s classic ‘Zaalima Coca Cola pila de’ a little too much lately, but this time, it changed the tagline to ‘Zaalima chai nahi, Coca Cola pila de’. The second TVC, which stars Shaz Khan and television sensation Maya Ali, shows a wedding function where the couple wants coke instead of chai with the groom repeating the tagline. The couple and the guests take a sip of coke and dance over Madam’s song.

Targeting the tea market has sparked critical debate over social media while tea brands are also coming up with strategies to counter coke’s campaign.

The tea brands have so far bounced back with only a social media campaign. Leading tea brand Lipton – a product of Unilever – posted a picture of a simple cup of tea, saying ‘Pakistanis love Chai Zaalima… nice try’ and with a caption ‘Pakistanis have no doubt when it comes to Chai’.

The use of hashtags by thebrands is also interesting. Coke says #ZaalimaCocaColaPilaDe #ChaiNahiCoke while Lipton uses#PakistansBestBeverage as its hashtag.

Not only Lipton, other tea brands have also responded to coke’s anti-chai campaign. The picture posted by Nestlé Every Day has a chilled glass of coke with a biscuit to dip in it and reads ‘Dunk now Zaalima’ while the caption says ‘It’s not even a question of choice!#ZalimaChaiPilaDey’.

Tapal Danedar says ‘Chai hee hai jo subah jagayee, chai hee hai jo rishtay nibhayee, Zaalimaa ik cup chai hojayee?#TumMeinAurAikCupChai #TapalDanedarZalimChaiBanayee’.

The newly launched Dostea says ‘Why be a Zalima when you could be a dost? #Dostea #Zalima’.

Forget about cola wars or tea wars, this is about a beverage war now which is a huge industry both in and outside the country. According to Lipton’s official website, 100 billion drinks of Lipton are consumed each year in Pakistan, making it a household name, while according to a research in 2015, Coca Cola serves 70,000 customers/retail outlets in the country.

The ads of tea usually use the positioning of family, care and freshness while coke sticks to its Emotional Selling Proposition (ESP) of joy and happiness. The new experiment by coke has got it the attention and interest of people but not the desire and action to buy it while just the Facebook posts of tea brands have got them immense support with people extensively commenting that there is no comparison between coke and chai. This hold true as these beverages are different and have different target markets and marketing strategies.

In summers, we usually see some competitive advertisement between Coca Cola and Pepsi as the demand of cold drinks increase but tea is for all seasons and for all moods. People in Pakistan can miss a meal but not chai. Tea is for everyone, young and the old, while the major target audience of cold drinks is youth. Coke can be consumed occasionally but tea is a part of the routine. It is something that most of the people in a household cannot live without. Of course, some people have coke addiction too, but it still cannot beat tea addiction.

As both these brands, Lipton and Coke, are market leaders in their respective product category and now that there is a coke vs chai tussle, it would be interesting to see what the campaign further has in store for its consumers. Also, what efforts are these brands putting in to make their campaigns a success and what marketing strategies are used to get the attention of the people.

Mahnoor Sheikh

The writer is a media student. She tweets at @mahnoorsheikh03



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