Brand Saga: Inside the lime & lemony Limca advertising journey

Limca advertising journey.

With ‘Hi Thirst and Bye Thirst’, Limca rooted in itself the quench to replace water as the thirst quencher. We voyage across the Limca advertising journey to get the thrill and fizz of the age-old drink right.

Call it ‘Nimbu sharbat’ or ‘Nimbu paani’, the liquid refreshment has acted as a welcome drink in most Indian households for ages now, even before Colas of the world entered our refrigerators. ‘Lime juice’ containing sugar and a pinch of salt has satiated many taste buds and a similar flavour was introduced in a fancier form – a ‘soft drink’ in modern packaging. The story dates back to late 70s when colas and juices were still getting popular and thus started the Limca advertising journey.

The ‘limey’ flavour instantly reminds me of Limca’s famous tagline – “It’s veri veri Lime & Lemoni”. On this note, let’s revisit Limca’s stint at advertising to capture the market which was no-less obsessed with the concept of colas in traditional India.

Meet, Limca Creator

This story is no less than a saga and deserves to be told. So goes the tale – business tycoon Ramesh Chauhan of Parle Bisleri approached the owners of Duke’s Lemonade, requesting them to share the formula for their lemon drink with the promise of not making it in India, which was allegedly turned down by the company.

This didn’t stop Chauhan who went on to make his own formula and Limca as a brand took birth in 1977.  This was also when Parle was riding high on its ‘Gluco biscuit’ and ventured into the beverage category with an orange-flavored drink – Gold Spot. The next obvious choice was to launch a lemon drink.

Limca-Parle: The untold tale 

Nimbu paani was a common drink then and many companies bet big on the flavour. Parle, in order to stand out,  created a drink with a cloudy look calling it ‘Limca’ derived from – ‘Limbu Ka’. An online blog mentions that the drink was initially mocked by consumers owing to its cloudy appearance and compared to ‘soap water’, but soon got hooked to its taste.

Though Limca was officially launched in 1977, its presence has been marked since 1971. It was then targeted towards upwardly mobile and women who wanted a fizzy, non-cola alternative to quench thirst while on the move. Foreign entrant, Coca Cola was going aggressive to grab Indian eyeballs and competed with Parle for a larger pie.

Post the Emergency in 1975, the cold drink segment witnessed a slowdown. Homegrown brands like Parle found it tough to sustain. The company had spent considerably on bottling facilities for Gold Spot and Limca combined with expansion plans.

In 1992 the Indian government allowed Coca-Cola to return for operations post Liberalisation, Coca-Cola bought local soft-drink brands, from Parle Bisleri including Limca, Thums Up, Maaza, Citra, and Gold Spot.

Limca advertising journey – Campaigns for ‘Thirst’

From 1971-79 was termed as the age of thrist-ies when Limca forayed into the market with – ‘Pyaas bujhaane wala Limca’. Leveraging print, the brand went all out in targeting the upper-middle class. selling them a carbonated cloudy drink to quench their thirst while at work. It was positioned as modern, trendy, ahead of its time induced with key intrinsic isotonic salts to make it lime n lemony.

Stepping into the early 80s, Limca’s ‘thirst-quenching’, youthful image remained constant. One wouldn’t know that Doordarshan commercial promoting zero bacteria Limca with the tagline  ‘Limca…Each Time is the Thirst Time’ featured none other than a young Salman Khan as a handsome footballer enjoying his first victory with Limca.

Limca advertising journey in a bid to be ‘cool’ introduced the public consumers to a new way to drink Limca – ditch the straws and chug it straight from the bottle. In 1988, Limca helmers set out to understand consumer sentiments relating the product and carried out attitudinal marketing presenting the context of Limca is my choice because ‘I like It’.

In 1990, with ‘Land of Limca’, the brand repositioned itself as Indian and in 2002 promoted itself as the ultimate solution for extreme thirst.

Mazza Taazgi Ka

It was in the year 2005 that Limca ditched it’s age-old ‘Thirst quencher’ imagery and adopted a new positioning selling ‘Taazgi’ (Freshness). The announcement was followed by the roll-out of a TVC featuring then model, Deepika Padukone.  

Limca’s tryst with Music

In 2006, taking forward the ‘freshness’ stance, Coca-Cola India appointed actress Riya Sen as the brand ambassador of Limca with the launch of a new ad ‘Limca Fresh Ho Jao’. Sen featured in sensuous avatar in a 40-second ad that was aired during the India-England cricket series.

Conceptualized by Ogilvy and Mather, the ad was created on a budget of INR 60-70 lakh. At this point in time, Limca constituted 11 percent share in the carbonated soft drink market.  

The hit jingle ‘Boondhon Mein’ composed by  Vishal & Shekhar was an instant hit. In the preceding year, Limca continued its association with Sen with an objective to give the brand a contemporary, vibrant, colorful, feel.

Witnessing international locations on the big screen was only a Bollywood trend back then, Limca swept pass it and shot a TVC in South Africa’s Cape Town.  

The campaign ideas were to bring water into situations and places where it ought not to be.

Limca’s TVC often came up with a background score which was one of the communication tactics and make people take notice.  

Sushma Reddy’s Playful Splash

In October 2008, Limca advertising journey made yet another catchy and melodious tune, this time starring Sushma Reddy and Niketan Madhok.  The background songHaseen lamho ko chura lo’ sung by Cara Lisa Monteiro went viral. The two-minute commercial had Limca reviving its ‘Freshness’ imagery featuring a couple – a change where it featured young adults in its earlier communication and was shot like a music album.

Also Read: Brand Saga: Vicco Turmeric – before healthy became mainstream

The campaign objective was to Reinforce Limca as a drink synonymous with freshness, giving the brand a more sophisticated feel.

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‘Fresh Ho Jao’ to ‘Doobo Taazgi Mein’

Making a shift from its earlier tagline ‘Fresh  Ho Jao’, Limca introduced ‘Doobo Taazgi Mein’ while being consistent with the ‘freshness’ quotient.  Limca’s tryst with songs continued and it concocted yet another score- ‘jeene ka bahana’ adding a retro music touch this time.

The TVC was conceptualized by Ajay Gahlaut, then Group Creative Director – Ogilvy & Mather& directed by Shashank Chaturvedi a.k.a Bob from Good Morning Film. The score was by Music Directors – Dhruv & Ashu and soulful lyrics by Swanand Kirkire, (‘Hazaroon Khwahishen Aise’ fame).

As an extension to the earlier campaign, Limca company launched a new commercial, ‘Splash fo Freshness’ summer campaign using ‘Romance’ as a key to emotional rejuvenation.

The Saifeena Twist

Saif Ali Khan and Kareen Kapoor Khan have lent their faces for Limca’s advertisements albeit separately. The duo was roped in 2010 and 2012 respectively by the brand.

Limca – Back to Basics

In 2012, Limca roped in Kareena Kapoor sealing the INR 2.5 endorsement deal with the actress. During this time, it reverted to its ‘thirst’ roots although with a twist, in the Pyaas Badhao campaign exploring thirst as ambition and something to achieve in life.

In 2014, continuing the association with Bebo further, Limca revived the famous ‘Sir Jo Tera Chakraye’ song to promote Lime n Lemony Limca.

Limca- The Utlimate Thirst Quencher 2.0

The creative mandate from Ogilvy to Leo Burnett was passed in 2015. After spreading the Bebo fever on multiple screens and mediums, the brief to Leo Burnett was to re-establish Limca as the ultimate thirst quencher.

The commercial essentially conveyed the point that “When faced with situations of extreme heat and fatigue, nothing quenches your thirst like Limca”. It was produced by Chrome Pictures and helmed by Hemant Bhandari titled ‘Bhaag Bittoo Bhaag’.

The campaign was extended on print, radio, outdoor and primarily YouTube and Facebook where the company looked at crowdsourcing entries from consumers to share their extreme moments of thirst. The top four or five panic-thirst situations had the potential to be turned into a series of digital films, or possibly even a TVC.

The brand also had Sonali Bendre as one of the protagonists in a TVC.

Phir Ho Ja Shuru with Limca

With a message to start afresh this summer with Limca, the company launched a new tagline ‘Phir Ho Ja Shuru’ in 2016 supported by a TVC helmed by Anurag Kashyap.

Its extension in 2017 saw the campaign focusing on the spirit of not giving up and starting all over again after a physically exhausting task. The TVC also introduces ‘Limca jahaan, recharge wahaan’. Open to individuals residing across India (except in the state of Tamil Nadu), they offer allows 10 lucky winners to win mobile recharge up to Rs 1000.

Chadha Le Taazgi

Keeping up with its tagline change ritual, Limca was back at selling ‘taazgi’ as the product’s exclusive offering. Conceptualized by Leo Burnett, the agency-brand duo looked at bringing playfulness, romance, and signature splashback to Limca’s advertising.

The spot had a soundtrack, which is a contemporary version of the Bollywood classic ‘Gore Gore, O Banke Chhore’, from the movie ‘Samadhi’. The soundtrack was re-composed by Sameeruddin. Limca Freshness campaign leveraged spots on television, radio, and Hotstar during IPL.

Limca Fresh Ho Jao Returns

Reviving its ‘Joy of Freshness’ positioning in 2019, the brand was promoting ‘Asli Nimboo ki Taazgi’  with a masala twist- ‘Masale ka Chatpata Blast’ – Limca Juicy+ Masala. #TaazgiMasalafied

Limca’s Digital Play

While Limca’s Twitter page displays posts dedicated to the like of Limca Book of Record holders, its Instagram page is inactive with only one post. The brand’s Facebook profile constitutes its latest promotions around ‘Chadha Le Taazgi’.

#TaazgiMasalafied

Asli Nimboo ki Taazgi, Masale ka Chatpata Blast – Limca Juicy+ Masala. #TaazgiMasalafied

Posted by LIMCA on Monday, 22 July 2019

Limca’s success formula can be found in its sharp fizz and lemony bite combined with the single-minded proposition as the provider of “Freshness” and the one of ‘Thirst Quencher’. While some term Limca as the forgotten history, a few still hum its iconic campaign music tunes – we fall in the latter category.


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