From Caffeinated Cola to Carbonated Coffee: Tasted Cuba Yet?

40 years ago, “C” held the secret to the most successful sweet waterof the century. And its coveted secrets made it suffer “desh-nikaala” from not only India, a lot of other countries. Enter “P”. For the Indians addicted to the soft drink, “P” brought out a similar drink (whose logo is akin to a facebook ‘like’) that worked wonders for them. Soon “P” became an iconic brand as well.20 years later: “P” sold off that drink to “C” with a smug intention- they’ll play in the fruity juicy market only. What it took “P” to realize the extent of their mistake were another 20 years.

Parle Agro (‘P’) that sold off Thums Up to Coca Cola (‘C’) 20 years ago is now trying to make amends by entering the Rs.15000 Cr aerated drink market with ‘the coffee revolution’: Café Cuba. And they are throwing immense money and style and edge into the campaign. Evident from the edgy TVCs and the ever expanding digital ecosystem, Parle Agro is leaving no stone unturned to spread awareness about their differentiated product. Through an ‘underground movement’ against the age old Cola, Café Cuba aims at creating a niche in the hyper competitive aerated drink business with its product innovation as its major competitive asset.

A look at the website ‘’, made solely for the purpose of digital brand building makes a great first impression with its uniqueness of the concept. In an MSDS format, it captures the eye as well as interest with a geeky game-like feel; yet one cannot help but feel that it’s a little too stretched. For an Indian consumer who is used to a 30-45 sec long TVC, a 4-5 minute investment on the website indeed seems a bit too much to ask for. Couple with it another 2 minute 30 sec long video that attempts to make the message loud and clear by re-iterating the ‘underground rebellion’ concept. The video fails to fall in sync with the innovative format adapted by the digital platform where youngsters are seen running haywire to either hide Cuba or to taste Cuba. You can’t be sure. Still it leaves you with a “Deja Vu” feeling of having seen a Thums Up commercial (in which you’ll find youngsters running as well)

Apart from the digital footprint, the product in itself is unique and new for the Indian palate. Pepsi Café-chino launched some 8 years ago had the same concept of “a kick of cola with a kiss of coffee” but it failed miserably in the market. Not even a sassy number like their TVC featuring Priyanka and Kareena could save a product that tasted simply bad if not disgusting. If anything can sustain the initial buzz that Cuba is successfully creating, it’s going to be its taste.

All in all with a different marketing model as its pillar, will Café Cuba strike Indian youth consumers? Not unless you taste it. So, have you ‘Tasted Cuba yet’?

-Sahil Chopra

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