For decades, Pepsi and Coke have enjoyed a duopoly on the soft drinks market in India, but they’re now going to be challenged by an Indian brand that’s been brought back from the dead.
Reliance has officially relaunched the iconic Campa Cola brand, and its products have hit the markets. Reliance had purchased the defunct Campa Cola brand from New Delhi-based Pure Drinks group for an estimated Rs. 22 crore in September last year. Reliance has now relaunched the Campa brand in three flavours including Campa Cola, Campa Lemon and Campa Orange. Reliance has also rebranded the Campa logo with bright new colours and a modern font.
“By presenting Campa in its new avatar, we hope to inspire consumers across generations to embrace this truly iconic brand and trigger a new excitement in the beverage segment,” a Reliance spokesperson said. “While older family members will have fond memories of the original Campa and cherish the nostalgia associated with the brand, younger consumers will love the crisp refreshing taste. With a rapidly evolving Indian market throwing up more consumption occasions, we are truly excited to bring back Campa, which is yet another bold step forward for our expanding FMCG business,” they added.
Campa Cola will fit in neatly into Reliance’s sprawling retail empire. Reliance is already the largest retailer in India through Reliance Retail, and also has an e-commerce play in Jiomart. Reliance also runs a series of private labels, including like Yeah!Colas and Snac Tac noodles. The private labels, including in the fashion and lifestyle segment, already contribute 65 per cent to the company’s revenue.
Campa Cola might not immediately ring a bell with today’s generation, but will evoke strong memories for people aged 30 and older, who’ll remember its ad campaigns and iconic soda labels. The brand has its roots in 1949, when Coca Cola had employed Delhi’s Pure Drinks group to be its sole distributor in India. In the 1970s, after India’s protectionist measures forced foreign brands out of the country, Pure Drinks launched its own drink, which it named Campa Cola. Campa Cola was successful, and became a household name across the country through a series of memorable ad campaigns. But as the economy once again opened up in 1991, Pepsi and Coke returned, and Campa Cola found it hard to compete. The brand eventually fell by the wayside and was discontinued.
Several decades later, Campa Cola has been revived, and it now seems to be in good hands. Reliance is India’s most valuable company, and Mukesh Ambani is one of the richest men in the world. Reliance will give Campa Cola plenty of distribution to take on the big boys of the cola world. Campa Cola will likely find a ready audience among middle-aged people, which could help it get an initial set of customers. And if the company plays up its Indian roots, it can pit itself as a local alternative to the foreign-owned Pepsi and Coke.
And Campa Cola’s journey, in many ways, mirrors the ebbs and flows of the Indian economy over the decades. When India had first become independent, it didn’t quite have the technical know-how to make basic products, and relied on foreign collaborations. Some of these products were successful, but even till the 1990s, were still not good enough to compete against the best in the world. But India’s economy has changed since then, and Indian products, right from automobiles to software, can now hold their own against global counterparts. It remains to be seen how Campa Cola’s second innings plays out, but if it can take on the incumbent cola behemoths, it could be yet another sign that India has well and truly arrived on the world stage.