Aurora Magazine

Promoting excellence in advertising

Reasons to believe

Published in Sep-Oct 2012

Coco-Cola's Ho yaqeen initiative.

There have been a number of feel-good campaigns in Pakistan such as Azm-e-Alishan and Karo mumkin and recently Coca-Cola too dived into the field with its ‘Reasons to believe’ campaign.

The campaign was launched last year to coincide with Coca-Cola’s 125th anniversary. The local version took six months to plan before it was unveiled in March 2012 with the Ho yaqeen tou khulein khushiyan commercial.

In March, the company invited a number of local twitterati, bloggers and media names onboard a yachting expedition called the ‘happiness cruise’ to talk about what it was planning to do to. In May, as well as publishing a book called 101 Reasons to Believe in a Better Pakistan giving positive statistics about the country, the company also launched, in collaboration with Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy and SOC Films, the Ho yaqeen documentary series, highlighting six unknown heroes who try to make a difference in Pakistan.

The global campaign relied on giving positive statistics about specific target regions. On the other hand the local commercials although resembling the global campaign conceptually (upbeat songs, children and flag waving) also played on a number of localised elements, such as (for Pakistan) the electricity crisis, cricket, the traffic jams caused by VIP movement, etc.

Commenting on the response to the initiative, Fahad Qadir, Director, Public Affairs and Communications, The Coca-Cola Company, says that “we have almost run out of books, the documentary is getting great ratings and people keep coming up with ideas for us to work on.

Of course some people will have a different angle to all that is going on, but so far the overall response has been really good.”

The slight dash of negativity is due to the fact that the campaign carries a significant amount of company branding. Unlike Coke’s other venture, Coke Studio, Reasons to believe prominently features Coke bottles and other insignia across the communication. One of the company’s programmes for instance saw the beverage maker distribute its bottles to underprivileged women at the Rana Liaquat Craftsmen’s Colony to decorate with beads and other materials. Although the initiative helped empower women by giving them a chance to earn, the use of the bottles might lead some to think that the end goal of the effort was to promote Coke as a brand.

“Of course there is a bit of a PR as well as a CSR leg to what we are doing. But that is not what dominates it. This isn’t corporate philanthropy or corporate charity, the idea is to promote positivity and a better image of Pakistan,” says Qadir.

He adds that “the Coke bottle is probably the most beautiful thing on the planet. It’s a 125-year-old brand and it’s not only a symbol of consumption anymore. It’s about the artwork and how it blends with everything.”

In terms of numbers, sales have risen but Qadir attributes this to reasons other than the campaign.

“We have invested over $300 million in a new plant, chilling facilities, merchandise and in distribution channels, which is probably why sales have increased.”

The campaign, he says, is intended to promote brand visibility more than anything else.

According to Qadir, Coke plans to do a lot more with the campaign. Even so he is careful to point out that Coke as a company can only promote an idea or thought (believe in your country) but it takes a bunch of other stuff to make that happen.

As he says, “We are trying to leverage our brand and our resources to inspire other people and other companies to take the initiative forward.”

Shayan Shakeel is Junior Business Development Executive, DAWN.