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    Coca-Cola is cooking: inside the drinks giant's launch of the platform in India

    The Drum heads to the inaugural ‘Coke is Cooking’ festival in India to experience the major new experiential push first hand and find out why the drinks giant is going so big on food.

    While food has long played a part in Coca-Cola’s communications, the beverage brand is now going a step further with the introduction of ‘Coke is Cooking’, a new series of global food events launched in Kolkata, the capital of West Bengal in India.

    “Food is a space that we have decided to build on actively, and this launch is part of that journey”, shares Arnab Roy, vice president, marketing, Coca-Cola India with The Drum at the event.

    ‘Coke is cooking’ – with food and music as the key ingredients 

    The maiden ‘Is Cooking’ festival was launched as a two-day event in Kolkata that curated the culinary wonders of the city under one roof.

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    The food stalls included some of the iconic Kolkata-based restaurants like Mitra Café, Arsalan, 6 Ballygunge Place, Aminia as well as over 40 other local food outlets. 

    Music being an integral part of Coca-Cola’s legacy, the evenings had live performances from renowned Indian artists including Shreya Ghoshal, Shankar-Ehsaan-Loy, Fossils, Anupam Roy, Arko Mukherjee as well as artists from Coke Studio Bangladesh. Incidentally, this is the first time the Coke Studio Bangla artists performed internationally.

    Coke Studio is a marquee property that has been around for many years and has forayed into many markets including Pakistan, India, the Philippines, Africa, the Middle East and was most recently launched in Bangladesh.

    Choice of Kolkata for the global launch 

    The timing and the choice of the launch city also coincided with Durga Puja celebrations, which is the most auspicious and major festival in Eastern India, and which also started over the weekend. 

    Kolkata’s renowned love for food is at a peak around this time and thus the brand saw this as a great opportunity to bring the new launch story to life with ‘Coke Pet Pujo’r Pandal’, as per Dipanjan Saha, manager, frontline marketing, East CBO & East/Central/South FBO, Coca-Cola India. 

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    According to Roy, Puja time is a low-barrier time and typically there is a huge spike in overall consumption in Kolkata around this time. “A city-specific initiative would be a great opportunity to strengthen the local connection”, he adds.

    Coca-Cola’s plans for the platform 

    The brand’s ambitious plans for the platform include hosting ‘Coke is Cooking’ festivals in one city in the world every week of the year in 2024.

    The next destination would be Vietnam where two of the major cities would be hosting the festival in a similar format but with localised food and music built in.

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    Shares Roy: “The 30-second TV commercials  are no longer enough to engage the core TG of teens and young adults.” With this launch, Coca-Cola hopes to pilot a new marketing engagement model to engage its primary cohort and take it to different markets with the right mix of global model and localized offerings. 

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