|Manufacturer||The Coca-Cola Company|
|Country of origin||India|
|Related products||Coca-Cola, Pepsi, Campa Cola|
Thums Up is a brand of cola in India. The logo is a red thumbs up. It was introduced in 1977 to offset the withdrawal of The Coca-Cola Company from India. The brand was later bought by Coca-Cola who re-launched it in order to compete against Pepsi.
During the late 1970s, American cola giant Coca-Cola abandoned operations in India rather than accept a forced sale of 60% of their equity to an Indian company. Following this, the Parle brothers, Ramesh Chauhan and Prakash Chauhan, along with then CEO Bhanu Vakil, launched Thums Up as their flagship drink, adding to their portfolio of older brands Limca (lime flavour) and Gold Spot (orange flavour).
Thums Up enjoyed a near monopoly with a much stronger market share, often overshadowing domestic rivals like Campa Cola, Double Seven, Dukes and United Breweries Group's McDowell's Crush, although many small players sold well in their own markets.
It was one of the major advertisers throughout the 1980s. In the mid '80s it faced short-lived competition from Double Cola.
In 1990, when the Indian government opened the market to multinationals, Pepsi was the first to come in. Thums Up and Pepsi subsequently engaged in heavy competition for endorsements. Pepsi spokespersons included major Indian movie stars like Juhi Chawla, while Thums Up increased its spending on Cricket sponsorship. Thums Up also introduced a larger 300 ml (10 US fl oz) bottle, branded "MahaCola" (the original size was 250 ml (8.5 US fl oz)). This nickname gained popularity in smaller towns where people would ask for "Maha Cola" instead of Thums Up. Consumers were divided, with some saying that Pepsi’s mild taste was rather bland.
In 1993 Coca-Cola re-entered India after a prolonged absence, spurring a three-way Cola War with Thums Up and Pepsi. That same year, Parle sold out to Coke for US$60 million. Some[who?] assumed Parle had lost the appetite for a fight against the two largest cola brands; others[who?] surmised that the international brands' seemingly endless cash reserves overwhelmed Parle. Thums Up had an 85% market share when sold.
Despite its strong overall equity, the brand was losing its popularity among the core cola drinking age group of 12 to 25 year-olds, partly due to a lack of advertising.
Coca-Cola apparently did try to kill Thums Up, but soon realised that Pepsi would benefit more than Coke if Thums Up was withdrawn from the market. Instead, Coke decided to use Thums Up as a rival brand to Pepsi. The Coca-Cola Company by this time had about 60.5% share of the Indian soft-drink market but much to its dismay found out that if it took out Thums Up, it would remain with only 28.72% of the market (according to a report by NGO Finance & Trade in India), hence it once again dusted out the Thums Up brand and re-launched it targeting the 30 to 45 year olds.
The brand was re-positioned as a “manly” drink, drawing on its strong taste qualities. Known to be a strong drink with more power packed into it than other colas, it was a favorite in rum-based cocktails, as in “rum and Thums Up.” Thums Up kick-started an aggressive campaign directly attacking Pepsi’s television commercials, focusing on the strength of the drink hoping that the depiction of an “adult” drink would appeal to young consumers. “Grow up to Thums Up” was a successful campaign. The brand’s market share and equity soared. The brand was unshakeable and Coca-Cola’s declaration that Thums Up was India’s premier cola brand in terms of market share did not surprise many.
Other campaigns from Thums Up build on its “strength” and its perception as a macho drink. Ads showing the Thums Up man, riding through the desert in search of a cantina that sells Thums Up rather than drink another cola, stuck in the minds of many Indians and caught the imagination of youngsters who wanted to be seen as men.
In February 2012, popular South Indian actor Mahesh Babu became a spokesperson for Thums Up. In October 2012, Coca-Cola India signed Salman Khan once again as the brand ambassador of Thums Up. The company has also tied with Salman Khan's movie Dabangg 2 and his charitable organisation as part of the deal.
According to Coca-Cola's Indian website, Thums Up contains: carbonated water, sugar, acidity regulator (E338), natural colour (150d) and added flavours ("natural, nature-identical and artificial flavouring substances"). Coca-Cola also states that Thums Up contains caffeine, but does not list it with the other ingredients.
Logo and marketing
The Thums Up logo was a red "Thumbs Up" hand gesture with a slanted white sans-serif typeface. This would later be modified by Coca-Cola with blue strokes and a more modern-looking typeface.
The famous slogan until the early 1980s was "Happy days are here again", coined by then famous copywriter, Vasant Kumar, whose father was spiritual philosopher U. G. Krishnamurti. The slogan later became "I want My Thunder", and subsequently "Taste the thunder!"
Thums Up was a major sponsor of cricket matches and also had a notable presence at the Sharjah cricket matches. In the early 1980s, it came out with several postcards featuring Sunil Gavaskar and Imran Khan.
Besides cricket, Parle’s southern bottler was a major sponsor of Indian motorsport in the 80s. In addition to sponsoring several Indian track drivers in Sholavaram races, they sponsored several regional car and bike rallies. They were also associated for several seasons with the Lakshmi Mills Super Speeds team who were one time rivals of MRF racing.
In popular culture
A peak in the Manmad Hills has become popularly known as the "Thums Up Mountain" or the "Thums Up Pahaar" (in Hindi), because it has a natural top like the "Thums Up" logo and is a popular sight from trains.
- "Thumbs Up". Coca-Cola India. Retrieved 16 April 2012.
- Ratna Bhushan, ET Bureau (2010-01-08). "Coke India's new Thums Up ad most expensive ever". The Economic Times. Economictimes.indiatimes.com. Retrieved 2010-09-18.
- "Will Coke's 200ml pack price cut cannibalise Thums Up?". The Economic Times. 29 February 2012. Retrieved 1 March 2012.
- Albaum. G and Duerr. E. (2008). International Marketing & Export Management (6th ed.). Pearson. p. 265.
- Shamni Pande (2009-05-18). "The brand that refused to die". Business Today. Businesstoday.intoday.in. Retrieved 2010-09-18.
- Bob Page. "How Thums Up became the ruling cola of India.". The Mercury Brief. Retrieved 2010-09-18.
- "Thums Up- Case Studies - Ormax". Ormaxworld.com. Retrieved 2010-09-18.
- Righthand, Jess (August 19, 2010). "A Culinary Tour of "Eat Pray Love"". Smithsonian.
Media related to Thums Up (cola) at Wikimedia Commons