With multiple consumer touchpoints we build cohesive storytelling: Vijay Parasuraman, Coca-Cola India

Coca Cola World Cup Campaign

As a part of a strategic tie-up with ICC, the Coca-Cola World Cup Campaign sports Ranbir Kapoor in a cute avatar. Vijay Parasuraman, of Coca-Cola, gave us a glimpse into the brand’s marketing strategy for World Cup 2019.

From scaling up the brand through an astounding list of on-ground activations to making consumers count the number of Coca-Colas they consume while creating contests during Live matches for engagement, the Coca-Cola Company is doing it all to ride onto the cricket fever and outdo the competition as a part of the Coca-Cola World Cup Campaign.

In conversation with Social Samosa, Vijay Parasuraman, Vice President, Marketing, Coca-Cola India and South West Asia takes us through the nitty-gritty of Coca-Cola World Cup campaign, the brand’s overall marketing strategy, and more.


Now that the brand and ICC has signed a five-year global strategic partnership, we would like to understand what does that entail?

Initiated from India, the global partnership entails The Coca-Cola Company’s brands becoming the exclusive soft drinks of the ICC in the NARTD category for the next 5 years.

We aim to bring together sports, consumers, brands and the everlasting love for cricket across the world. The partnership will strategically align both ICC and Coca-Cola for the long-term by combining the strength of The Coca-Cola Company’s diversified portfolio of over 500 brands and worldwide retail reach with ICC’s unwavering focus to expand the sport’s footprint globally. With this partnership, cricketers worldwide will have access to best-in-class hydration and gain from exciting fan engagement initiatives.

The five-year agreement includes visibility for the company’s diverse portfolio of over 500 brands across ICC events around the world including the ICC Men’s Cricket World Cup 2019 in England and Wales, the ICC men’s and women’s T20 World Cups in Australia in 2020, the ICC Women’s World Cup 2021 in New Zealand and the ICC Men’s Cricket World Cup in India in 2023 amongst other global tournaments.

Please shed some light on Coca-Cola’s ongoing Cricket World Cup campaigns (#ShareitWithCoke and ’12th Man’) and what is the rationale, insight and strategy? 

The ability of Cricket, especially the World Cup, to create so many unique, special, memorable moments makes it a robust platform for us.

Our first campaign which is an extension of #SayItWithCoke focuses on building a consumption depth around cricket viewing by encouraging fans to stock up to be ‘Match Ready’.

After all, any moment of the game could be its best. Our second campaign addresses what is in the Indian fans’ hearts and minds during the World Cup: The intense desire to see India win. The ‘12th Man’ is built around the simple idea that to be part of the team, you don’t need to be in the team. We believe that the 12th man symbolizes the Indian fans, their hopes, aspirations, anxieties and what their spirit could be.

The HITMAN is one of our favourite reasons to celebrate! #BeThe12thMan #INDvENG

Posted by Coca-Cola on Sunday, 30 June 2019

Further, we announced the launch of Powerade, a great-tasting isotonic sports drink to help sports and fitness enthusiasts perform better. It is the official sports drink of the ICC Cricket World Cup 2019, owning the athlete training zones and Hydration Break during matches — “Powered by Powerade”. We have signed Mahendra Singh Dhoni as Powerade’s brand ambassador in India.

What was the objective of the campaign and how has the response been so far? How do you calculate RoI on sports marketing?

Our goal is to leverage Cricket World Cup to get Coca-Cola into every Indian’s hearts and the shopping baskets. We are looking at making the World Cup Cricket moments special for our consumers with the simple pleasure of drinking a Coca-Cola, which makes it a key bet for us.

What are the on-ground activities planned?

We have created a line of innovations and activations both On-Ground and In-Stadium for the consumers. In-stadium activations include Bar-led with Coke Zero, Coolers in stadiums, extensive sampling of the beverages, special events, branding for Powerade.

On-Ground activations include, placement of Coke Parasols in prime locations, Mid-wicket Coke branding on TV screens, Replay and side screen presence and Prime perimeter branding. Taking forward the company’s World Without Waste vision, we have recycling initiatives at the stadiums. We have deployed Human billboard with a recycling message to create awareness and bring back cans for recycling across fan zones and stadiums.

How are you leveraging the star power of ‘Ranbir Kapoor and Paresh Rawal’ through the campaign?

Brand ambassadors can help us build and enhance brand love especially in creating compelling stories.

We believe that these stories essentially shape emotions and if one is able to maintain consistency with these emotions, it drives behavioral and attitudinal change over time.

Also Read: World Cup for Everyone … or Not?

How is the brand’s social media participating in taking the cricket fever along with the brand campaign to places?

We are embracing marketing innovations in the digital world to build seamless experiences for the consumers. Stirring up the excitement for various brands under our portfolio, our e-commerce website, Coke2home.com is running a contest with one lucky winner every week receiving an all-expense paid trip to the final of Cricket World Cup 2019.

Special promotions are running across modern trade retail stores, cash and carry outlets, ecommerce and traditional stores. Additionally, Coca-Cola has rolled-out a game-based promotion called ‘Scan to Score’ with McDonalds ordering app where participants had to scan ‘fours’ and ‘sixes’ in order to score runs where the highest scorers won a trip to England.

In the digital day and age, what are the benefits of associating with cricket and sports overall for marketing?

We believe that Sports is an inclusive social experience that caters to everyone and connects people across the countries. Globally, Coca-Cola has a glorious history of partnership with prestigious sports events. These associations stem from being part of consumers’ lives and their passions. We constantly endeavor to get better attuned to what consumers want and need in this changing world. The intent here is to uncover deep insights that resonate with them. Based on this, we’re seeking to segment in more meaningful and sharper ways, both, our consumers and our on-ground execution, going hyper-local where needed. Beyond geographies and demographics, we take into account variations in attitudes, and preferences in content and modes of consuming content (TV/Digital/OTT).

Finally, for each targeted region, we aim to provide a seamless experience across touchpoints.

How much percent of your total marketing mix is reserved for cricket? Where does digital stand in the scheme of things?

We cannot share specific spends, but due to the growth of the mediums overall spends are growing. There is allocation across channels which we are using for different brands. It is reasonable to suggest that our presence is all across and it’s not just digital or TV, we also do a lot of on-ground activations. The important aspect is that with multiple consumer touchpoints we are able to build cohesive storytelling. 

Lastly, what is your objective as a marketer behind associating with Cricket World Cup?  

The objective is to drive a deeper engagement with consumers by offering exclusive, authentic and in-depth experiences for ICC Cricket World Cup 2019.