Mkting Coca-Cola with kids, ‘not to them’
The film opens into a hot desert. The temperature is 42 degrees, we are informed. A bunch of jubilant children appears on the screen. Undeterred by the sun and the blistering sand, they have gathered for a game of cricket. A Coca-Cola crown is tossed into the air. The match takes off and the joy and celebration of togetherness obscures all the odds. The latest television commercial of beverages company Coca-Cola, finally, ends with Sachin Tendulkar invoking the spirit of sportsmanship and happiness.
The previous campaign of the company, which was on air till last month, had children holding out the same message. They sang a song of joy and hope (umeed wali dhoop, sunshine wali aasha; a composition by lyricist Prasoon Joshi, the chairman of advertising agency McCann Erickson) and the film ended with some of them downing a bottle of Coca-Cola as a sign of celebration.
"Open Happiness" is Coca-Cola's new slogan and the company argues that nothing symbolises happiness better than children; hence their presence in its ads.
Two years ago, Coca-Cola, along with seven food and beverages companies, had taken a pledge not to "directly" advertise to children below the age of 12 years. 'The India Pledge', according to the company, was "a commitment to change food and beverage advertising on TV, print, radio and internet to children under the age of 12 years".
Technically, the ads do not run afoul of the pledge. The company never pledged not to engage children below the age of 12 years in its advertising and it argues that using children in its advertisements does not qualify as advertising to them directly. In an emailed statement to The Indian Express, the company said that in keeping with the pledge, the two ads have not been aired on media platforms where children below the age of 12 comprise more than 35 per cent of the total audience.
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