Jul 11, 2011

Brrrrr to Grrrrr

“So what is the Brrrr effect? It's the sound you make when something is icy cold. It's the involuntary shudder that you can't help giving in to. It's a burst of energy that elevates your mood and sustains you. It's an infectious, irreversible wave of upliftment”

This is a direct quote that explains the “Brrr” effect from Coke’s Facebook page. I must confess, till I read the explanation for “Brrrrr” I imagined that it was an epilepsy related side effect of drinking too much Coke. Perhaps the manufacturers had increased the amount of pesticides in their master formula. “Brrrr” effect was supposed to create a wave of satisfaction and your body tingles with energy and you feel happy! The question is, why didn’t I get the message?

Well It is not just me, if you conduct a rather haphazard market survey (asking your near and dear ones, reading comments on YouTube) you find that most people think the ‘Brrrr’ effect is the satisfied BURP one produces after consuming Coca-cola. The company surely did not have that in mind! So where did the advertising house get it wrong? Especially when the ‘Brrrrr’ campaign has worked in 41 markets across the world for Coke. Did the Indian team get it wrong?

The campaign originally for the African market was created by Ogilvy JHB and directed by Erik van Wyk of Bouffant back in 2007. It became highly popular and gained a cult status soon with many Facebook pages coming up in support. After the success of the African campaign, the ‘Brrr’ went to 40 other markets becoming one of the most successful campaigns for Coke.The campaign was launched many countries like South Africa, Vietnam, Philippines, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Middle East etc.

All the ads across the world over had a common theme and structure. An elderly member of society would walk into a store and order an ice cold bottle of Coke. The consumption of which would lead to a sudden wave of energy flowing through the drinker’s body and producing an expression of surprise and joy - ‘Brrrrr’ . Thereafter we are shown images of people reacting to sudden infusion of refreshing energy, a young girl after being sprayed with water reacts with ‘Brrrr’. So does a puppeteer’s puppet when a cute young thing passes by on roller blades. In between these visuals we also see people reacting to the same way after drinking a bottle of Coke.

So the analogy is simple.

Get refreshed, Go Brrrrrrr

Drink Coke, Go Brrrrrrr

Therefore Coke gets you refreshed.

The formula worked in 41 markets world wide, just by changing the cultural context. But in India, the ad agency chooses to go with another structure, wherein different individuals are shown to go ‘Brrrrr’ after drinking Coke. Period.

Drink Coke, Go Brrrrrrr

Drink Coke, Go Brrrrrrr

Drink Coke, Go Brrrrrrr

There is absolutely no imagery to show the “refresh” concept. One is lead to believe that one simply goes ‘Brrrr’ when one consumes Coke. No wonder a large section of the audience tends to believe that Coke will lead to gastronomical irregularities.

Add to this the elongated ‘Brrrrrrrrrrrr’ verging on cacophony. The ad which had a catchy tune in most of the markets turns out to be annoying and devoid of inspiration in India. To make matters worse, Coke ropes in a few cricketers to go “Brrrrr” after drinking Coke. The tiredness caused by excessive cricket clearly visible on their faces.

Somewhere along the line the Indian ad house failed to recognize the connect between ‘being refreshed’ and going ‘Brrrr’. Leaving the average TV viewer with a feeling of....