Cola ads dangle safety hook
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Cola ads dangle safety hook

New ads show the huge effect that the pesticide row left on consumer perception, and that Coke and Pepsi are busy sending out safety signals.

india Updated: Nov 23, 2003 03:37 IST

After waging war against each other for years, Coke and Pepsi are now fighting consumer perception. One look at their new commercials and you can tell that the controversy has left a huge impact on consumer perception and that the two are busy sending out safety signals.

For Pepsi, ad agency JWT and adman Prahlad Kakkar brought actor Shah Rukh Khan and master blaster Sachin Tendulkar together for the first time since 1999 to bring out the topicality of safety as the hook.

Says a Pepsi spokesperson, "We first screened the ad in Kolkata during Puja, when there was a need to reconnect, reassure and rebuild consumer confidence."

So, do the cola majors agree there was a breach of consumer confidence? Not at all. According to the Pepsi spokesperson, "Our new ad is more brandspeak and less about the scientific complexities. The ad reasserts brand confidence and is not about the details of product purity."

Even as the Coke spokesperson refused to comment on any issues regarding the carbonated soft drinks till the Joint Parliamentary Committee has given its verdict, according to him, the new ads reiterate the company's commitment to safety norms and international standards.

Contrary to the Pepsi strategy, Coke's ad featuring babu moshai Amir Khan has an explicit reference to lab tests and safety concerns.

While the two companies loosen their purse strings to get their products endorsed by smug brand ambassadors, the Centre for Science and Environment’s director Sunita Narayan feels vindicated.

She says, "The two companies wouldn't have to put consumer confidence at stake if they had accepted the fact that there may be a problem rather than denying it. They just had to reassure their consumers that if there was one, it would be taken care of and move on with it."

She adds they have chosen a more expensive and less impressive way of re-connecting with consumers. After all, who wouldn't drink four colas in one go and say it’s the safest brand if one is paid handsomely for it.

First Published: Nov 23, 2003 01:49 IST