Why dissing chai – practically considered the national drink – in ad campaigns is always, always a bad idea.
Ok I’m done!
I’m seriously so done with all this chai bashing. First it was a particular coffee brand foolishly making fun of and potentially pissing off the majority of this country – who are chai drinkers – and now it’s a beverage mistakenly assuming that just because chai is hot, its consumption will go down.
Really, who is doing the research at these places? Because it’s clearly not someone who understands Pakistanis or the significance of chai in our lives. Chai isn’t just a hot drink. It’s a concept. An experience.
But before I dig deeper, here’s the TVC I’m talking about:
Chai is the fuel that gets you going in the morning. It’s the ice breaker when guests arrive. It’s the mediator when two people are having an intense discussion and it’s the vague excuse used to prolong a good moment; “more chai?” Chai is a sign of respect shown to you by a shopkeeper when you enter their shop, and it’s literally the cultural symbol for acceptance. If you have been offered chai by someone, you know you are someone they approve of.
That’s a lot of emotional investment Pakistanis have with chai, and we haven’t even gotten to the point that it tastes amazing when it’s made YOUR way, and how it gives you just the right nudge of energy, comfort and motivation to take on the day.
So, a few months ago, Nescafe suddenly decided it wanted in on that chai consumer market. And obviously when you want to attract someone towards yourself (your brand), you stick your tongue in your cheek, scoff with a raised brow and mock them, call them old fashioned, outdated and out of touch. That’s exactly how I want to be told I’m a consumer the brand respects. Someone took up negging. Wow.
Here’s the Nescafe ad:
Now it’s Coke. With summer on the onset, it’s natural that beverage brands will take their claws out and aim for each others’ market. What no one expected was that someone on the team who CLEARLY doesn’t get the mentality of a chai consumer would decide that this year, the brand would get sneaky, edgy, sexy and aim at… chai. Seriously, Coke? You have enough desis on your pay roll to know we STILL drink tea in the summer and no amount of chilly fizz and sexy Sikki will make us change our minds. Yes, we will definitely opt for a Coke with our dinner or when we are feeling hot, but NOT at the cost of chai altogether. That comparison alone is badly researched and really lacks understanding of your market. Coke will never be a replacement for chai. And neither will coffee!