In a warm conversation Mr. Shadab Ahmed Khan, the Managing Director of Coca-Cola Bangladesh, talked about Coca-Cola, its brand value, relevance to culture and food and many other issues.
In reply of first question,why Coca-Cola is doing so much in Bangladesh this Ramadan and what a beverage brand could possibly have to do with this Holy Month,
Mr. Shadab, with big gestures, said, “From a brand standpoint, you know Coke has always had the stature of one of the best brands in the world. And the reason is that we believe not just in the product, but in how it can play a role in people's lives. Festival is a time when people come together. There's a lot of joy and happiness, and friendships are built and strengthened at that time. From a Coca-Cola standpoint, the brand being what it is, is also a harbinger for bringing social connections.
Ramadan in particular is one of those moments when friends and families, people in offices come together for Iftar and Eid celebration. Coke wants to be part of that celebration in a meaningful, yet understated way, because our idea is 'How can we add to an already happy and joyous occasion being the great tasting beverage that we are?' So that's the reason why Coke and Ramadan have come together – and we do this across the world! In every market where we operate, we look at possibilities of celebrating Ramadan and Coca-Cola together.” he added.
What about Bashay Iftar (Ifter at home)?
He answered,'We've basically revived Bashay Iftar with Radio Foorti again this year. The intent of that is,'How do you ensure that families don't have to worry about preparing Iftar?' So Coca-Cola brings together, with Radio Foorti and Nando's, Bashay Iftar, so that these busy families can get the full Nando's platter with a case of Coke to celebrate without having to hassle.'
What about Sehri Nights and what is your plan with the cricketer Mustafizur Rahman?
''We created two properties around Sehri. One is a continuation of what we did last year – the Sehri Nights which we do with Foodiez, and was on the 23rd and 24th of June. Consumers from across all walks of life can come to Bashundhara and enjoy a great Sehri while having a chilled Coca-Cola. “And, for an exciting reveal, all the winners of the Bashay Iftar contest will have the opportunity of meeting with Mustafizur Rahman over a meal. It's a great combination with Coke, in my mind! We also asked Mustafizur to join us during one of the Sehri Nights and share a meal with fans of food and Coca-Cola, and last Friday fans were ecstatic to meet the young legend in such a close and intimate space!
We believe it's a great platform, we believe it's a great opportunity for people coming together – Coca-Cola at the end of the day only facilitates the whole process. “he added.
The other thing is that Coke has always had a perspective to events and things happening in the world at any given point in time. Because of that unique heritage that we have with Coca-Cola as a brand, we always work to try and see how it works in a manner that works with the consumer group that we're working with. And therefore across the world whether in terms of food or culture, Coke has always tried to be a part of it, as a great tasting beverage. We are not here to change the world but we're here to make little moments with food and culture, and filled with optimism and joy.” he further added.
When asked about the new Coca-Cola television commercial that has been airing and how it captures the idea of Ramadan;what does a brand have to do to be able to capture that essence?
He replied, “Our perspective to any commercial at the end of the day is that it has to work for the consumers who are looking at it. It has to be a slice of life. If it is not that, if it doesn't build relatability. Especially with festival advertising, building relatability is key. Therefore one of the things that we have tried to do is that we have tried to ensure moments of consumers lives in Bangladesh and use it in the ad that we did. So whether it is taking a train journey back home to celebrate Eid with loved ones which is what it depicts, or it is breaking a fast and sharing it with friends and neighbors on the train who are absolute strangers. It's part of what Bangladeshis do! And that's what we've tried to use in the ad. And it's the same that then goes into the theme of the television commercial as well – how people come together and how Coke can make the moment special.
How the brand finds itself relevant to culture and food? So what is it about sharing a meal that is so important these days than before?
He said,“From a larger standpoint sharing a meal is an important aspect – I fully agree. Building personal connections and relationships is more important as we live in the social realm. In Bangladesh, the society itself is culturally family-oriented. So there is a lot of people-to-people connection. so in Bangladesh we're just trying to enhance that connection. And again, it's not what Coca-Cola is doing – it's what people are doing in their normal lives, and if we can be part of that journey I guess we have done our job so that's what we're hoping we can do.”
How long has Coca-Cola been available in Bangladesh?
“Coca-Cola started its journey in Bangladesh in 1962 in its first form. So we've been available here for 54 years, in some form or fashion across the country.
We could become more integrated and I think it's a journey-- a journey of us working here and growing here and being a part of everyday life in Bangladesh and a part of the people's lives.” he summed up.
Interviewed by Sohel Rana