Mukesh Ambani is all set to reintroduce an iconic soda brand, Campa Cola, this summer through his conglomerate Reliance Group. The brand, which is almost 50 years old, was acquired by Reliance Group from its original makers, Pure Drinks, last August. The brand Campa Cola came into being after Coca-Cola, the most popular soft drink brand in India until the 1970s, was required to dilute its equity stake in its Indian firms and also disclose its concentrate's secret formula to them. However, not wanting to comply with these policies, Coca-Cola withdrew from India, creating a void in the market.
Taking advantage of this situation, Pure Drinks, Coca-Cola's primary bottler in India, launched its soda brand called Campa Cola. Using the same Coca-Cola font, Campa Cola quickly became the preferred choice of young people in the country. The brand's advertisements had a youthful appeal, memorable taglines, and a strong nationalistic connection. Its slogan "The Great Indian Taste" still lingers in the public's memory.
Campa Cola was a hit with children and teenagers and became a regular feature at birthday parties and family outings. However, the brand's popularity waned in the late 1990s after the then finance minister, Manmohan Singh, introduced economic reforms to liberalize India's economy.
These reforms made it easier for foreign brands to do business in the country, and Coca-Cola re-entered the market with aggressive marketing campaigns and an extensive distribution network. Competitors such as Pepsi and Coca-Cola eventually overtook Campa Cola, and the soft drink brand shut down its bottling plants in Delhi in the 2000s. Consequently, the drink disappeared from stores and stalls.
The comeback of Campa Cola, spearheaded by Ambani, will undoubtedly be a significant event in India's beverage industry. Whether the brand can regain its lost glory and compete with foreign counterparts remains to be seen. Nonetheless, the relaunch is bound to evoke nostalgia and bring back fond memories for those who grew up drinking Campa Cola.