Iconic Ads: Limca – Thirst Choice

The cloudy lemon drink Limca, for many years was a market leader backed by consistent positioning of “Thirst Choice’.

In the early 70s, Parle had decided to enter the lemon-based drinks market. At that time, Duke’s Lemonade was doing well. There was an opportunity for another brand.

The Chauhans at Parle reached out to the advertising agency ASP. K Kurian (the founder of Radeus later) led the team working on this product/ brand.

After a dipstick, the ASP team had a few suggestions. Since Indians loved nimboo pani (lime juice), it would appeal to consumers to have a cloudy drink like nimboo pani.

Secondly, they had an interesting brand name based on what lime is called in Maharashtra – Limboo/ Lemboo. They suggested Limca – derived from Limboo Ka.

Another recommendation was that the brand should be seen as modern, trendy and fun, with the core target audience being the upper-middle class.

Then, people consumed soft drinks to quench their thirst as bottled water was not available then. Moreover, all other carbonated beverages talked about fun. So the brand benefit became the positioning and hence ‘Thirst Choice.’

The Chauhans had a lot of respect for K Kurian and agreed to all his suggestions.

And Limca was launched in 1973.

Backing the strategy were great creatives from the team led by Eustace Fernandes (he created the Amul Butter moppet fame) with copywriters like Homi Bambot and Dinshaw Mogralia, who contributed to the advertising and the line ‘Lime and Lemoni’. The focus was on print initially and the famous waves, to give a feeling of freshness, was created by Eustace Fernandes

When Kurian started Radeus in the mid-70s, the brand moved too. Kurian did not tamper with the positioning. Radeus stuck to the ‘thirst’ proposition and the ‘Thirst Choice’ tagline. And from time to time, it kept adding some elements.

E.g – K Kurian realized that all carbonated beverages did not have any bacteria in them due to the production process which killed them. And by following Rosser Reeves’ USP principles, Limca usurped the zero bacteria drink tag much before the competition could think about it. Even now, there are many of the older generations who still prefer Limca for this reason.

There was a lot of mention in the news on how isotonic salts helped replenish the body when tired. It was also the brainwave of the team at Radeus to mention that Limca had isotonic salts to quench thirst. Another first!

Consistency of the advertising led to Limca being the no 1 soft drink in the world (Dr Pepper in the US came second) in 1988.

There used to be a young, sometimes crazy, film executive in Radeus called Prahlad Kakkar who had this habit of sharing his film ideas at the last minute, much to the irritation of his colleagues at Radeus like K Kurian, Gulrayys etc. One of his last-minute film ideas was based on throwing away the drinking straws and drinking Limca straight from the bottle. No doubt Jayant Kripalani helped, and a new trend was started where the drinking straws were thrown away and people started drinking straight from the bottle.

In the 80s, Limca’s thirst-quenching and the youthful image remained. A young Salman Khan as a footballer promoted Limca, enjoying a victory with it.

Radeus also created some memorable properties that became a part of popular culture. Remember Quiz Time? It was one of the earliest sponsored programmes on TV. Limca was almost embedded into the programme. It was K Kurian and Gulrayys Jameel who shortlisted Siddartha Basu from the many who had auditioned. Talk about creating a famous personality!

Radeus also created another property called the Limca Book of Records (LBR) on the lines of the Guinness Book. The idea was to encourage all Indians to succeed, set records, and be recognized for it.

Unfortunately, Limca changed its proposition after Coca Cola bought it. But after much philandering, Limca is now back to the thirst proposition!

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