AdAsia 2011: “India is a land of inherent contradictions”: Joseph Tripodi

Prasoon Joshi and Joseph Tripodi engaged in a chat with the theme, ‘Marketing is dead, engagement is in’

AdAsia 2011: “India is a land of inherent contradictions”: Joseph Tripodi

The famous line, “This opportunity comes once in a lifetime”, from Eminem’s 'Lose yourself', played in the background as Coca-Cola’s executive vice president and chief marketing and commercial officer, Joseph Tripodi, made his way to the stage to start the first session on day two of AdAsia 2011.

Tripodi begun the session by talking about how Coca-Cola has refreshed the world for the last 125 years and how the brand now has presence in 206 countries.

He also mentioned how the brand has shown consistency by not changing its logo for 125 years.

Giving an example of its marketing initiatives in the past, Tripodi spoke about the song, ‘Waving Flag’, Coca-Cola created with K’naan. He said, “The football world cup is the biggest invitation of all. The world looks forward to the tournament and it was a huge success with everyone world over singing the song. Even players were spotted singing it. Waving Flag created a fabulous platform for us.


He also spoke about their new project titled, 'Arctic home'. Polar bears have been used in Coca Cola’s advertising since the 1920’s and so the brand has created an Arctic refuge project. More about this initiative can be seen on

Tripodi also gave a sneak peak into their future plans, by talking about their sponsorship for the London Olympics in 2012. They’ll be targeting the youth through this campaign. Coca Cola has been associated with the Olympics since 1928.

Prasoon Joshi, chairman and chief executive officer, McCann Worldgroup India, executive creative director, McCann Erickson, APAC Region and chairperson, McCann Global Creative Council then joined Tripodi on stage. In conversation with Joshi, Tripodi spoke about brands being conservative. He said, “I think a lot of it is a function of large companies being conservative. It’s difficult for large companies to be bold because people don’t like taking risks. At Coca Cola, we work on something called, ‘70-20-10’. 70% of your investments go on something that has certainty in getting us returns,  20% of our budgets are used for innovative work, while 10% of it is invested in what we call, risks.”

On being asked about, India as nation and what is brand India, Tripodi said, “India is a land of inherent contradictions. There is no one India.”

On the sidelines of the Congress, Tripodi spoke with Campaign India and reiterated the importance of Coca-Cola India in their global plans.  He said, “We invest a lot of money in India – if we don’t compete effectively in India, we will not achieve our 2020 targets. The per capita consumption in India is low. There are 700 million in rural India we want to target by making sure that the product is available, affordable, packaged correctly and priced right.  However, like in China, the biggest opportunity for us is when people migrate to urban areas, that is when their life changes and their need for packaged goods rises. We are particularly bullish on India, China and Brazil owing to this change that we see taking mammoth proportions in the coming years."

While Tripodi was bullish about launching local-flavour brand extensions, he said that they should be done judiciously. “Sometimes, just for a very short spike a lot of investment goes waste. Between Coke, Sprite, Thums Up, Maaza and Nimbu Fresh we have a good portfolio of brands in India. The core brands should be established first before extensions can be brought in.”

Speaking on their relationship with their agencies, O&M, Leo Burnett and McCann, in India Tripodi said that they were very satisfied with the creative work being developed in India offices. “The macho positioning that Thums Up completely owns can be replicated for our Coke Zero brand globally as that has a similar brand presence,” he said.

While Coke as an organisation did not believe in too much experimentation with agencies and liked to build long term relationships, Tripodi said that they were open to experimentation in the digital and design space.

Campaign India