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Star power: Aamir in, Hrithik out

By Jyotika J Thukral in New Delhi
February 12, 2003 12:35 IST
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Aamir Khan may have won international acclaim for his Oscar-nominated film Lagaan, but back home he's being rewarded for his successful Thanda matlab Coca-Cola campaign for the soft drink major.

In view of the growing popularity of the ongoing Aamir Khan campaign, Coca-Cola India has decided to renew its contract with the film star for another three years for an estimated Rs 3 crore (Rs 30 million).

Coke insiders say that in a rare move, the company has also terminated its contract with Hrithik Roshan, the erstwhile heartthrob of Indian cinema.

Officials claim that the star's dipping popularity pushed Coca-Cola into cancelling the deal mid-way.

Though the company spokesperson refused to confirm that Coke and Hrithik Roshan had parted ways, insiders said that a notice to that effect had already been sent to the star.

In fact, Bollywood's current rising star, Vivek Oberoi, has been signed as the brand ambassador for Coke for a period of two years. The beverage major has also roped in a couple of other known faces as its ambassadors.

While film actress, Rani Mukherjee will endorse the Fanta brand, model turned film star Bipasha Basu will soon be seen in advertisements endorsing Thums Up (along with Akshaya Kumar). Both Mukherjee and Basu have been signed on for a period of one year each.

Coke officials claim that the brand has benefited from its  thanda positioning and will continue to use it for a while.

However, several new campaigns featuring the new ambassadors are in the pipeline, the official said. A new positioning with Aamir Khan is also under consideration to bring about a refreshing element in the campaign.

"Although the  thanda concept seems to be doing well currently, there is always a fear of losing consumer interest because of the repetitiveness," he said.

Meanwhile, the advertising industry is also abuzz with rumours of an imminent change in the advertising agencies enrolled by Coca-Cola.

The rumour has been triggered off by the changes that the soft drink company has made in the US. In the US, the company has appointed Berlin Cameron /Red Cell as its creative agency-of-record for Coca-Cola in place of McCann-Erickson. Berlin Cameron is a WPP agency.

At the same time McCann and other Interpublic group agencies will continue their role as a creative consultant and idea generator for the full range of its brand communications in a majority of markets outside the US.

Commenting on the above move, Suhel Seth, Equus Red Cell's chief executive officer in India, said: "It is too early to gauge the impact of the global realignment."

Currently Coca-Cola's advertising accounts in India are split among McCann-Erickson, Leo Burnett and Ogilvy & Mather. Earlier,  McCann-Erickson used to handle the entire Coke account.

"We felt that having all brands under one agency might lead to plagiarism in terms of the campaigns. Different agencies handling different brands would ensure originality in the treatment of the subject," said the Coca-Cola official.
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Jyotika J Thukral in New Delhi