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Why Coke and Airtel are saying no to red from today

Are Coca Cola and Airtel are really ditching their original colour for the pretender blue? Read this piece by Shivaji Dasgupta, Managing Director, Inexgro Brand Advisory, to know more

Shivaji Dasgupta

In a rather dramatic development, Coca Cola is giving up its red identity from today. Also, rather remarkably, inspiring Airtel to do the same, as per exceedingly informed sources, they are considering red to be provocative and off the mainstream, which is leading to unpredictable customer behaviour.

This has most certainly not been an easy decision and the management committees have had to expend abnormal energies prior to consent. What swung the verdict favourably was the dilettante character of this rather imposing colour, suggesting revolution instead of denoting evolution in this digital mindscape. The images of the Russian struggles overthrowing the decadent Tsar becoming the leitmotif of the brand as opposed to happy youthful imagery dictating the customer affections, thus leading to an emotive choice. Red is clearly not in favour and the verdict is out in the limitless open, be it the Savannah or the Prairies.

Upon deliberation with many industry experts, semiotic and analytic, a few more alarming revelations arrived at the fore. The colour red is seemingly dangerous, a barrier to creativity and enterprise, therefore an impediment to sustainable progress. Printers and fabricators confessed that they were never in love with it, a certain unidimensional coating leading to limited explorations. Even the venerated media planners nodded aye, as the colour palette restricted the potency of positional negotiations, their unassuming stock in trade. PR folks we know well conjectured boldly that storytelling was thwarted, the traffic signal association leading to unsatisfactory patronage.

What finally swung the conception was the conversation with the customer, not solitary but many. Those who love Coke wondered aloud why a black liquid was promoted as red, the logical fallacy astounding even the fanatic. While those respectful of the mobile service had to admit that red was a colour of non-performance and thus a dangerous symbol for a service, which ahem, consistently underperforms. For the competition user, in both categories, the colour seemed inconsequential and thus nonlinear to the perceptions of the brand and indeed, the experience. Red was thus turning out to be a red herring, a rather hasty choice that was not leading intuitively to output, leave aside outcomes.

Then, in a subliminal twist, a political party or two seemed to have a point of view. On how callow and indeed shallow purveyors of commercial items could lay claim to a beatific heritage, that of struggle and resilience. Umpires, especially third, piped up when provoked, suggesting that the dismissal of a batsman is the ultimate application of this colour, all other expressions be damned. Even the creators of popular culture, movies or literature, decided that commercialisation was invalid as it represented an emotion that was so valid. The chaiwala in Bengal took particular umbrage as lal chai is a local icon, soaked in tradition and marinated by passion, thus such petty businesses are indeed unbecoming. Lovers of Feluda, the detective by Ray, adore Lalmohan Ganguly and found the intersection set not abrasive but surely avoidable.

In global news, the verdict is plain and rather insane, that the colour red may actually provoke customers to practise irrational behaviour. An opinion endorsed by those in the arena of mental well-being as well as general wellness, as the bullfighting antecedents may induce exceedingly bullish conduct by humans, leading to excessive or disorderly patronage. Donald Trump apparently ordered this change for Coke, in an underpublicized diktat, seeking a merger with the Pepsi identity. A point noted brilliantly by the Indian telco, in due adherence to the West-Knows-Best attitude practised sincerely by local corporations since the first test match at Lord’s in 1932. Red is indeed bad news and in a statement of common affinity. Coca Cola and Airtel are ditching their original colour for the pretender blue, starting tomorrow and you first read about it right here.

But then, do remember that today is indeed April Fool’s Day and every taxpayer is accorded the right to play a prank and this is my quota. Coke will indeed stay red as will Airtel and the competition will be black and blue as a result of their decisive aggression. But then do laugh a little extra today and pass on that habit to every breathing day.

(Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in this article are those of the author. The facts and opinions appearing in the article do not reflect the views of and we do not assume any responsibility or liability for the same.)

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