Thums Up

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Thums Up
The Thums Up logo
Thums Up: Taste the Thunder
ManufacturerThe Coca-Cola Company
Country of originIndia
Introduced1977; 44 years ago (1977)
Related productsCoca-Cola, Pepsi, Campa Cola

Thums Up. The Great Refresher. Roadside Stall. Himachel Pradesh, India. 2011

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.

As of February 2012, Thums up is the leader in the cola segment in India, commanding approximately 42% market share and an overall 15% market share in the Indian aerated waters market.[1]


Thums Up was created in 1977, after the American company Coca-Cola withdrew from India, due to regulations requiring it to disclose its formula[2] and sell 60% of its equity to an Indian company under a government plan for foreign-owned companies to share stakes with domestic partners.[3][4] The Chauhan brothers owned part of the Parle company and already had two other brands of soda, Limca and Gold Spot, which were popular in India at the time. Thums Up quickly became the most popular and achieved a near monopoly among cola products in India during the 1980s, such as Campa Cola, Double Seven, Dukes and United Breweries Group's McDowell's Crush.

Ramesh Chauhan had developed the formula from scratch, experimenting with ingredients such as cinnamon, cardamom, and nutmeg. The company also wanted the drink to be fizzy, even when it was not ice-cold, so it could be sold by vendors. After much testing and experimentation, the Chauhan brothers and their research team created a cola that was fizzier and spicier than Coca-Cola. They originally planned to name the drink “Thumbs Up,” but removed the “b” to make the name unique.[5]

In 1991, 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 advertisements included major Indian movie stars like Juhi Chawla,[6] while Thums Up increased its spending on cricket sponsorship. Thums Up also introduced a larger 300 ml (10 US fl oz) bottle, branded "MahaCola" (meaning 'great [in size] cola'; 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.[7]

In 1993, Coca-Cola re-entered the market, and the three companies competed intensely. Later in the year, Coca-Cola bought the Parle-owned drinks Gold Spot, Limca and Thums Up for $60 million. When these were sold to Coca-Cola, Thums Up had a market share of 85 percent in India.[1]


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. At first, Coca-Cola cut advertising and production for Thums Up to drive customers to their flagship brand,[8] but soon realised that Thums Up customers would turn to Pepsi instead of Coke, were Thums Up 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 found out that if it took out Thums Up, it would remain with only 28.7% of the market (according to a report by NGO Finance & Trade in India), hence Thums Up was re-launched, targeting 30- to 40-year-olds.

The brand was re-positioned as a "manly" drink, drawing on its strong taste qualities.[9] Thums Up started an advertising 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 increased.[10]

Today, the beverage is the leading cola in India, with 42 percent of the cola market share and 15 percent of the market share for all carbonated drinks. It is especially popular among teenagers, young adults, and people in their 30s and 40s.


According to Coca-Cola's Indian website, Thums Up contains: carbonated water, sugar, acidity regulator (E338), caffeine, natural colour (150d) and added flavours ("natural, nature identical and artificial flavouring substances").[11]

Logo and marketing[edit]

A can and glass of Thums Up

The original 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 copywriter, Vasant Kumar. The slogan later became "I want My Thunder", and subsequently "Taste the thunder!"

Product placement in films was used in the 1980s with Thums Up appearing in the background of many Hindi films.[8]

Advertising campaigns from Thums Up build on its "strength" and its perception as a macho drink.[12]

In February 2012, popular South Indian actor Mahesh Babu became a spokesperson for Thums Up.[13] 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.[14][15]



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.

Indian motorsports[edit]

Besides cricket, Parle’s southern bottler was a major sponsor of Indian motorsport in the 1980s. 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.

2020 Olympics[edit]

Thums up announced a worldwide partnership with the 2020 Summer Olympics in July 2021 to commemorate the 100th year of India's participation in the Olympic Games. The brand rolled out a special athlete packaging, featuring Indian Olympians Bajrang Punia, Manu Bhaker, Vikas Krishan Yadav, Deepika Kumari, and Atanu Das.[16]

Celebrity endorsements[edit]

Post 1990s, Thums Up's celebrity endorsers were:

Awards and recognition[edit]

According to the:

  • Brand Trust Report 2012 published by Trust Research Advisory, a brand analytics company, Thums Up was positioned 140th among India's most trusted brands.
  • Subsequently, in Brand Trust Report 2013,[19] Thums Up was ranked 170th among the most trusted brands in India while
  • According to the Brand Trust Report 2014, Thums Up was elevated to the 66th position among India's most trusted brands.[20]

In popular culture[edit]

A peak in the Manmad Hills has become known as the "Thums Up Mountain" or the "Thums Up Dongar" (in Marathi), because it is shaped, by coincidence, like the "Thums Up" logo. It is visible from trains passing by and has become a popular sight.

Thums Up appears in the book Eat, Pray, Love and its 2010 film adaptation.[21]

The drink appears throughout Salman Rushdie's controversial novel The Satanic Verses (1988).[22]


  1. ^ a b "Will Coke's 200ml pack price cut cannibalise Thums Up?". The Economic Times. 29 February 2012. Retrieved 1 March 2012.
  2. ^ "Subscribe to read". Financial Times. Retrieved 2018-09-17. Cite uses generic title (help)
  3. ^ Albaum. G and Duerr. E. (2008). International Marketing & Export Management (6th ed.). Pearson. p. 265.CS1 maint: uses authors parameter (link)
  4. ^ "A Look Back at Coke's Dramatic Return to India, 20 Years Later". The Coca-Cola Company. Retrieved 2018-09-17.
  5. ^ [1]
  6. ^ "These Vintage Ads Starring Bollywood Stars Will Make All '90s Kids Feel Very, Very Old". HuffPost India. 2016-08-24. Retrieved 2020-09-10.
  7. ^ Satpathy-Singh, Soni (1 April 2016). "A Big 'Thums Up' to India's Beloved Cola: A Brief History and Recipe".
  8. ^ a b Radhakrishnan-Swami, Meenakshi (July 6, 2013). "Thumbs Up, Forever". Outlook Business.
  9. ^ Shamni Pande (2009-05-18). "The brand that refused to die". Business Today. Retrieved 2010-09-18.
  10. ^ Bob Page. "How Thums Up became the ruling cola of India". The Mercury Brief. Retrieved 2010-09-18.
  11. ^ "Thumb Up". Coca-Cola India. Retrieved 16 April 2012.
  12. ^ "Thums Up- Case Studies - Ormax". Retrieved 2010-09-18.
  13. ^ "Mahesh Babu is national brand ambassador for Thums Up!". 1 March 2012.
  14. ^ (2012-12-22). "Thumps Up goes Dabangg". Indian Television Dot Com. Retrieved 2021-06-21.
  15. ^ Laghate, Gaurav (2013-01-29). "Fevicol benefits most from association with Dabangg2". Business Standard India. Retrieved 2021-06-21.
  16. ^ "Thums Up celebrates 100 years of India at the Olympic Games". 6 July 2021.
  17. ^ Page, Bob (October 18, 2009). "How Thums Up became the ruling cola of India". The Mercury Brief.
  18. ^ Menon, Sangeeta. "Coca-Cola India hikes Thums Up ad spend, signs on Chiranjeevi". Rediff. NetScribes.
  19. ^ Nov 8, P. Naveen / TNN /; 2017; Ist, 16:43. "'Thums Up' fined Rs 12 lakhs for 'misbranding' in Madhya Pradesh | Bhopal News - Times of India". The Times of India. Retrieved 2021-06-21.CS1 maint: numeric names: authors list (link)
  20. ^ "India's Most Trusted Brands".
  21. ^ Righthand, Jess (August 19, 2010). "A Culinary Tour of "Eat Pray Love"". Smithsonian.
  22. ^ Rushdie, Salman (1988). The Satanic Verses. London: Vintage. p. 66. ISBN 9780963270702.

External links[edit]