Mathur recalls Aishwarya Rai’s turn as Sanjana in that iconic Pepsi commercial becoming such a thing that suddenly everyone was drinking Pepsi. “We dropped Campa so quickly because there was now something so new and cool that Campa was considered an infra dig, in a way.”
Thangaraj, now with the wisdom of hindsight, says: “Liberalization changed my relationship with Campa – and not necessarily because other drinks were better, but maybe because it was also a time when I was getting older, more TV channels, and therefore the ads came in. I remember Pepsi was launched first, with an ad with Remo Fernandes and Juhi Chawla (a pretty terrible ad now, in retrospect), but back then, it was very ambitious. Also Pepsi had these cool promotions like you could collect the crowns and redeem them in stores for tapes which for a teenager seemed a lot cooler than what Campa could offer. I guess Campa was childhood but Pepsi was the transition to adolescence Campa was full of innocence and warmth and nostalgia which is really appreciated more now because in those days we were all about to move on to the next cool thing. That being said, while I wanted to be seen drinking Pepsi, I secretly preferred the Campa because I thought it tasted better.
With Campa already in a few stores and set for a full return to market this month, hopes are high among former owners and fans alike. As Mathur looks forward to sharing a Campa with his children, now ages 11 and 14, Singh told CNT, “We had been in talks with RIL since late last year. Its aim is to acquire good Indian brands, give them a platform and create value for the customer. Selling a good product at a reasonable price. Campa fit very well into their business plan, so I think it would be a win-win. He hopes Reliance will do justice to his family’s legacy and the memories and love people have for this drink.
But will it really be able to compete with Coke and Pepsi at a mass level today? Thangaraj, an advertising professional, doesn’t think he can or even needs to: “I think what he has to do is present himself as a niche, a cult, almost a hipster alternative. The key to resurrecting it is to really harness the nostalgia factor – it would work. Marketing aside, he’s excited. “He may not show up in that little little glass bottle anymore, but hopefully he’ll have the same taste of sweet, friendly innocence and fun – and I think we need that.”