Ask your parents or grandparents; they will probably recall fond memories of drinking Campa Cola on a warm sunny afternoon during their childhood. Campa Cola was an iconic 1970s soda brand in India that ruled the non-alcoholic beverages market in India before popular brands such as Coca-Cola and Pepsi, took over. Even though its American rival, Coca-Cola was introduced in India in the 1950s it had to withdraw from the market within two decades when the Indian government introduced a regulation requiring it to reveal its formula. This void in the market was filled by its Indian alternative Campa Cola, which enjoyed mass popularity and soon became the country’s top beverage brand.
Campa Cola was advertised as “The Great Indian Taste” and came in an attractive glass bottle. A popular Campa Cola advertisement starring a young Salman Khan also resurfaced on the internet, which also happens to be the renowned actor’s first advertisement. Campa-Cola’s print advertisements were peppy and playful back in the day. The 1970s leading up to the 1990s was an analog time and there were not as many options in terms of brands as we have today. Indians were more than content with Campa-Cola. However, good times don’t last forever. Campa-Cola’s popularity began to decline during the 1990s when India's then Prime Minister PV Narasimha Rao and his Finance Minister Manmohan Singh opened the country to foreign investment. Foreign cola brands such as Coca-Cola returned to the market and Pepsi and Fanta also became immensely popular. Campa Cola slowly disappeared from shelves and stalls across the country.
However, Campa Cola turned full circle when Asia’s business tycoon, Mukesh Ambani announced the relaunch of the iconic beverage, with fifty years of heritage this summer. Mukesh Ambani's Reliance Group bought the brand from its makers, Pure Drinks, last August for 220 million rupees. The packaging will be different from its predecessor, a transparent glass bottle, and instead, it will be sold in plastic bottles and cans of three different flavors— cola, lemon, and orange.
Social media has been taken by storm as many old and middle-aged Indians describe their experiences with this homegrown drink back in the day. They said that it had the “same font as Coca-Cola” and the beverage was a must-have while celebrating "times of fun' and 'times of joy". In response to Ambani’s announcement a young Indian called Chinmay says on Twitter. “Finally I will be able to taste the drink about which I had heard so much from my parents.”. Shailesh Desai, 60, from Mumbai, told CNN while reminiscing about how drinking Campa Cola "would drown the apprehension" when he needed to tell his father about a poor grade on his report card. The drink would also provide a boost of confidence when he wanted to ask a girl on a date.
As we ride this wave of nostalgia in anticipation of tasting this iconic drink after its upcoming re-launch, only time will tell if it will be able to compete in the Indian market with soft drink giants such as Coca-Cola and Pepsi.
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