Coca-Cola India has dropped actor Salman Khan as the brand ambassador of Thums Up for the second time, But the company clarified that this had nothing to do with the actor’s controversial remarks backing Pakistani actors.
In a statement, Coca-Cola India and Salman said, “Salman Khan was committed to an existing relationship with a daily TV show, which this year happens to be sponsored by a brand that competes with the Coca-Cola India product portfolio. In light of this, both parties have mutually decided not to renew the current contract.”
Parle Agro’s Appy Fizz has replaced Snapdeal as the main sponsor of the new season of Bigg Boss on Colors and Appy Fizz being a competitive brand of Coke, the company and the actor had mutually decided in favor of moving on with their own choices
Apparently, It is understood that Coke in talks with actor Ranveer Singh, considered a younger and safer bet than Salman. Though, the Company didn’t reveal anything on its plans for alternative to Salman for endorsing Thumps Up.
This is the second time Salman has been roped and dropped as Brand Ambassador of Thumps UP, Earlier he was the brand ambassador of Thums Up between 2001 and 2003 and he was subsequently dropped following his involvement in a hit-and-run case in Mumbai and the blackbuck shooting issue. He returned as Thums up brand ambassador in 2012.
During the second stint with Salman, Coca-Cola India had also signed an agreement with Being Human—The Salman Khan Foundation to jointly promote and execute charitable and social activities. All of this will cease to exist now.
It is not uncommon for beverage companies to drop aging or controversial personalities. PepsiCo India, for instance, had dropped cricketer Sachin Tendulkar in 2009 as part of its move to phase out aging brand ambassadors. Similarly, Coca-Cola India had brought Tendulkar on board in 2011 only as a social ambassador for three years. He was replaced by Sourav Ganguly last year.
Brand experts said a category like colas typically demands the use of younger stars, though Salman was an exception to the rule. “Thums Up has a macho appeal, which Salman could carry well,” said K V Sridhar, former CEO of SapientNitro, who had worked on the Thums Up brand.
Ranked the number one cola in India, ahead of Pepsi and Coke, Thums Up has a unique flavor and it continued to have an appeal despite stiff competition in the category. India, incidentally, is the only market where Coca-Cola has two cola brands and where the leader is not Coke.