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Waging a fizzy war, musically

Wednesday, 12 February 2014 - 6:00am IST | Place: Mumbai | Agency: DNA

The fight between the cola wars has just take a new turn now—a musical one. Pepsi and Coca-Cola, the two cola giants have been fighting a war for decades in India and this time they have taken the music platform to try and woo the consumers with a better tune.

PepsiCo has entered into a collaboration with MTV to launch a 24-hour music channel called MTV Indies. And, Coca Cola has also been sponsoring the hugely popular music show called Coke Studio.

Coke Studio also serves music with a slight twist, where music artists from different genres record live music performances. MTV Indies will also be focusing on different genres but it will be independent artist that will be in the focus.

Now, with both Coke and Pepsi aiming their firepower in the music direction, experts see the music arena as their new battleground.

Harish Bijoor, a brand experts who runs Harish Bijoor Consults, a brand consultancy firm said that, "This is definitely yet another ground for the cola brands to slug it out. This comes at a time when both the companies have decided to invest heavily into India. Not surprisingly then, they would want a large number eyeballs as returns. And music is yet another way for them to take this battle forward."

In November last year, PepsiCo decided to fizz up the Indian market and announced an investment of Rs 33,000 crore ($5.5billion) by end of 2020. The year before that, its arch rival Coca Cola had announced that it will be investing Rs 28,000 crore ($5 billion) by 2020.

Nabankar Gupta, CEO of Nobby Brands and a marketing consultant, also believes that this is yet another opportunity for the two cola companies to up the marketing ante against each other. "These are indications that going ahead the cola war will get more intense and its not unusual for that to happen."

The fact that Coke will not be allowed to advertise on Pepsi MTV Indies has only fuelled the speculation about the intensifying marketing war.

However Homi Battiwala, Senior Marketing Director (Colas, Juices and Hydration) at PepsiCo India doesn't see it as a marketing war. He explains that, "PepsiCo has been in the music marketing space for very long and so it is not a challenge for us. Plus it is not just a sponsored program, its a co-branded channel so its a non-stop activity for us." Th

Not surprisingly, Pepsico will be the biggest advertiser and will enjoy the maximum air time on Pepsi MTV Indies. The association between MTV and Pepsi is for this channel is for three years.

MTV that hosts Coke Studio also is confident that this association with Pepsi will not compromise the relationship that the music channel shares with them. " If Coke for a minute believe that we won't be doing justice to what we have built for them, then they have all the reasons to feel unhappy. But I think what we have delivered for them over the years, the kind of relationship that we share with them, there's a fair amount of comfort that these are two separate pieces that we will treat with equal. importance,"explained Aditya Swamy, Executive Vice President and Business Head – MTV India.

Brands and companies that have been exploring different and novel avenues to reach out to the consumer. And as Gautam Kiyawat, CEO, Madison Media Group explains that different brands will have to find innovative ways to reach out to the customer given that it is the same set of consumers being targeted.

Therefore, we can probably get ready for a bigger cola war this year.

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