The festive season in India is a golden opportunity for Coca-Cola to connect with consumers on a deeper level and a Coca-Cola India spokesperson tells WARC India Editor Biprorshee Das how the soft drink giant prepares for and measures its festive marketing campaigns differently from regular campaigns.

This article is part of a Spotlight series on festive marketing in India. Read more

Key insights 

  • Preparation for the festive season begins with market research to understand evolving consumer preferences, with campaign strategies crafted to resonate with each particular festival.
  • Cultural diversity is incorporated by customising festive campaigns to resonate with specific traditions and sentiments of the different regions in India.
  • The campaigns feature the power of personalisation and innovation, the importance of community and celebration themes, and localised content and influencer partnerships.

WARC: How relevant, culturally and from a business perspective, is the festive season in India to Coca-Cola?

Coca-Cola India: From the vibrant colours of Holi to the glittering lights of Diwali, and the majestic festivities of Durga Puja to the joyful reunions of Eid, and cheer of Christmas, festivals are the heartbeat of Indian culture. For Coca-Cola, the festive season in India is a golden opportunity to blend into the cultural fabric and connect with consumers on a deeper level. Festivals are synonymous with meeting family, friends and loved ones in gatherings and community events where Coca-Cola naturally fits in as a symbol of refreshment and joy. By aligning with these culturally significant moments, Coca-Cola taps into the emotional reservoirs of Indian consumers, embedding itself in their festive memories and traditions.

From a business perspective, this period is an ideal time to enhance brand visibility and strengthen consumer loyalty through targeted marketing campaigns.

In this country, festivals are celebrated throughout the year. How do you define the festive season in India?

In India, festivals are not merely dates on the calendar, they are the pulsating heart of the nation’s cultural and social history, infusing every corner with colour, joy and a sense of community. At Coca-Cola, we embrace this spirit wholeheartedly, recognising the profound significance of these celebrations.

Our preparation for the festive season starts months in advance, involving meticulous market research to understand evolving consumer preferences and cultural nuances. We then craft bespoke campaign strategies that resonate deeply with the festive ethos, reflecting the vibrancy of each festival. This dedicated approach allows us to make each festival not just as a moment of joy but a shared experience enriched by the presence of our brand.

How does Coca-Cola India incorporate cultural diversity into its festive campaigns across different regions of India?

At Coca-Cola India, we understand that to truly resonate with the heartbeats of this diverse nation, our festive campaigns must echo the unique rhythms of each cultural landscape. We incorporate cultural diversity by customising festive campaigns to resonate with specific traditions and sentiments of different regions. For example, during Durga Puja in West Bengal, our “Coke-er Shaathe Roj, Pujo’r Mahabhoj” campaign highlighted the theme of community and celebration unique to this festival.

Similarly, during Diwali, Coca-Cola's #MagicWaaliDiwali campaign embraced personalisation through AI-generated greeting cards, allowing consumers to create and share customised festive greetings. The campaign leveraged cutting-edge technology to enable users to input their names and preferred messages, resulting in unique and shareable Diwali cards. This customisation helped the brand connect authentically with diverse audiences across India.

What role does storytelling play in Coca-Cola India's festive marketing campaigns?

Storytelling is at the heart of Coca-Cola India’s festive marketing campaigns, weaving narratives that resonate deeply with the soul of the nation. It allows the brand to create emotional connections that reflect the joy, togetherness and cultural richness of festivals.

These stories often highlight universal themes such as family, compassion and unity, making the brand’s message relatable and memorable.

How does Coca-Cola India leverage digital platforms and social media for festive campaigns?

Coca-Cola India utilises digital platforms and social media to maximise the reach and impact of its festive campaigns. The brand employs engaging content, interactive social media activities and collaborations with influencers to drive user engagement. For instance, during Diwali, Coca-Cola launched an AI-driven campaign that allowed users to create personalised festive greetings, encouraging widespread participation and sharing on social media. This not only increased brand visibility but also fostered a personal connection with consumers.

By weaving these digital threads into the fabric of their festive campaigns, Coca-Cola India not only keeps pace with the digital revolution but also ensures that the essence of celebration and togetherness is felt across screens, turning every click, like and share into a moment of festive delight.

Can you share examples of successful festive campaigns run by Coca-Cola India in the past and some key lessons from them about the market and consumer?

In the vibrant and culturally diverse landscape of India, Coca-Cola has intertwined tradition with innovation through its festive campaigns. With its commitment to building occasions, Coca-Cola remains a beloved companion in all of life’s celebrations.

Coca-Cola India's #MagicWaaliDiwali campaign helped foster strong personal connections and high engagement on social media, demonstrating how technology can enhance traditional celebrations.

The Durga Puja campaign celebrated Bengal's cultural richness with vibrant visuals and regional influencer collaborations, resonating deeply with local audiences and highlighting the effectiveness of regional customisation.

Key lessons from these campaigns include the power of personalisation and innovation, the importance of community and celebration themes, and the impact of localised content and influencer partnerships. These strategies have shown that a blend of personalisation, regional customisation and interactive engagement can create memorable marketing experiences, making Coca-Cola a cherished part of India's festive celebrations.

How challenging is it to keep the campaigns distinct each year?

For Coca-Cola India, maintaining consumer interest and engagement requires a fine balance of innovation, creativity and cultural sensitivity. Coca-Cola achieves this by introducing new elements like unique storytelling, advanced technology integrations or fresh collaborations.

Do you measure the success of your festive marketing campaigns any differently from the regular ones? What are the key performance indicators and metrics used to evaluate campaign effectiveness?

When it comes to festive marketing campaigns, Coca-Cola India adopts a unique approach to measuring success, distinct from regular campaigns. The essence of a festive campaign lies in its ability to capture the spirit of the celebration, making emotional resonance and cultural relevance paramount metrics.

By focusing on how well these campaigns connect with the festive spirit and consumer sentiments, Coca-Cola ensures that each festive season brings both joy to its consumers and value to the brand. This comprehensive approach allows Coca-Cola to create memorable and impactful festive experiences that go beyond mere advertisements, embedding the brand deeper into the fabric of India’s celebrations.

What unique challenges does Coca-Cola India face in executing festive marketing campaigns in India?

Executing festive marketing campaigns involves unique challenges such as navigating the diverse cultural landscape, ensuring timely execution amidst tight schedules. Coca-Cola addresses these challenges through meticulous planning, leveraging local market insights and employing robust logistical support to ensure that campaigns are both impactful and relevant.

How does Coca-Cola India balance global brand messaging with local cultural sensitivities during festivals?

Coca-Cola's messaging both in India and globally revolves around the universal themes of joy, celebration and family. Whether it's a heartwarming television commercial featuring moments of shared happiness during festive gatherings in India or a global ad campaign showcasing people from diverse cultures coming together over a refreshing Coca-Cola, the brand consistently emphasises the uplifting power of togetherness and the simple joys of life. Coca-Cola India adeptly balances global brand messaging with local cultural sensitivities.

What are some of the key lessons the brand has learnt about the Indian market from such cultural opportunities?

The importance of cultural relevance, the power of emotional storytelling and the effectiveness of digital engagement.

How does Coca-Cola India ensure sustainability and responsible marketing during festive promotions?

Employing a comprehensive strategy, Coca-Cola India seamlessly integrates eco-friendly practices into its festive promotions, as seen in the AI Diwali campaign, urging consumers to embrace e-cards over paper, focusing on zero waste events, engaging partners to effectively manage waste disposal.