King Khan is back. After his 2018 film Zero, he’s back as a hero in the latest Thums Up advertisement, which is reportedly on similar lines as his upcoming movie Pathan. Not to say Shah Rukh Khan has had a dry spell with ads in the meantime — remember the widely acclaimed DisneyPlus Hotstar ads — but we haven’t seen him in this rockstar avatar for a while now. And his return to screen in such an uber cool manner with almost a Don-like look after the entire cruise and drugs drama involving his son Aryan Khan is even more fitting. And boy does it suit him.
In a thrilling sequence set in a train, which looks like a short action movie, SRK goes on killing some ‘bad boys’ James Bond style, all to prove to an unsuspecting young man that Thums Up is no soft drink; it’s a toofaan.
In all these years of Thums Up advertisements, one thing has remained constant — the brand’s tagline, ‘Taste the Thunder’. And from here the beverage company derives all the themes of its campaigns, from ‘Aaj kuch toofani karte hain’ to ‘Main hoon toofani’ — no matter which Khan is in the ad. In India, if a brand tagline is good, it stays with you and becomes an ambassador in itself. ‘Taste the thunder’ has that recall value that most brands crave.
Changing faces, evergreen tagline
The tagline has also kept the loyal fan base intact. For a long time, we all associated parkour-doing Akshay ‘Khiladi’ Kumar with the brand. He was the perfect ambassador until he was replaced by Salman Khan in 2012. Kumar had been Thums Up brand ambassador for a decade, and it was a little difficult to come to terms with the fact that he wasn’t dying over a bottle of Thums Up in the ads anymore.
In that, the brand’s tagline kept familiarity alive, in the absence of which many Thums Up fans would’ve found it difficult to associate with the brand.
Even before Akshay Kumar took over, Salman Khan had endorsed the brand in the early 2000s. In an ad fighting for the last Thums Up bottle with Sunil Shetty, the tagline was the same — ‘taste the thunder’.
Even SRK’s latest, ‘soft drink nahi, toofan’, takes the viewer back to ‘tasting the thunder’; in that the brand image is secure in three simple words, in English language, which can not only make the drink’s communication internationally uniform, but also ensures uniformity of thought in regional advertisements in India.
Most iconic soft drink tagline?
Why so much obsession over this tagline? Because arguably no other soft drink has had a tagline that has lasted this long. Even though Coca-Cola has tried to introduce new taglines over the years, the charm of ‘taste the thunder’ has survived. And in India, if a jingle works, it stays in public memory forever.
‘Chutki Mein Chipkaye’ for Fevikwik, ‘Kuch Meetha Ho Jaaye’ for Cadbury, ‘Dimag ki Batti Jalade’ for Mentos are some iconic Hindi taglines. One of the most popular taglines with a very high recall value is Nike’s ‘Just do it’. Even if it is used without any other branding, the phrase will surely remind you of Nike.
Look at the parent company of Thums Up–Coca Cola–which is looked up to for its campaigns in the advertising world. It has had 49 taglines since 1886. Its most long-lasting tagline was ‘Open Happiness’, which the company ran from 2009 to 2016, to be replaced by ‘Taste the Feeling’, and now in 2021, ‘Open Magic’.
The biggest rival, Pepsi, hasn’t had any popular, culty tagline survive in the Indian markets for so long either. The current Pepsi tagline is ‘That’s What I Like’; while some iconic Hindi ones that come to mind are campaigns including ‘Ye Hai Youngistan Ka Wow’, and ‘Yeh Dil Maange More’.
Mountain Dew’s ‘Darr Ke Aagey Jeet Hai’, is another desi tagline that can compete with Taste The thunder. But it is relatively new. It was coined by Anuja Chauhan in 2007. The tagline remained suspended for 6 years (2014-2020) only to be revived with Hrithik Roshan performing daring stunts after sipping on some good ol’ Dew.
What works in Thums Up’s favour is how close it is to reality. You won’t conquer your fears if you have Mountain Dew, you necessarily won’t ‘open happiness’ or have a good time every time you have Coke; but you do, literally, taste the thunder every time you take a sip of Thums Up; it is indeed that strong.
Successive ads focusing on protagonists going to extreme ends–parkouring on buildings, riding the ocean wave, driving in burnt down cars–also have good recall value. People generally do have a choice of their favourite soft drink, and go out of their way to get their hands on it. A Thums Up fanboy won’t settle for a Pepsi or Coke.
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