Made in India

Insight Story of Indian brand Thumbs Up

Sep 24, 2021

In the year 1977, a new foreign exchange act came into force. The government gave Coca-cola an ultimatum. Accept it or quit India. Allegedly, George Fernandes, the then Minister of Industries asked Coa-cola to reveal its secret formula. While Pepsi agreed to the terms and condition, joining with Punjab Agro Industrial Corporation and Volta India, starting the Leher Pepsi wave, Coca-Cola exited. This created a void in the market. A market filled by Ramesh Chauhan of Parle. He knew about the Indians and their love for masala. Thus, creating Thums Up. A battle began between Pepsi and Thums Up. While the former used celebs, Thums Up relied on sponsors. Bottle sizes were increased and their ads focused on middle class. In the year 1993, cola returned. They never thought of Thums Up as competition. And expected an open armed welcome by Indians. But Indians long forgot Coca-Cola. They preferred the slightly spicy taste of Thums Up to Coca-Cola and Pepsi’s sweet one. Coca-Cola had three options left if they wanted to stay. Grow organically, acquire the company or the bottles. They chose the latter. Out of 62 factories creating their bottles, Thums Up owned only four of them. Coca-Cola began to chase the rest. They offered irresistible benefits, making enough of the factories change teams. This led to Thums Up unable to meet the demand. Ramesh Chauhan, forced to give up, signed a contract to Coca-Cola, while emotional and crying. There is no official announcement regarding the deal. But apparently, he was paid 60 million dollars. The deal meant bigger advantages to the Coca-cola company. Not only there were no rivals but they also got Thums Up’s network. They killed Gold Spot to make way for Fanta. They tried to explain to their US bosses that Indians were addicted to Thums Up, it was shelved too. In the year 1996, during the Cricket World Cup, Pepsi committed to aggressive marketing. With Thums Up absent, Pepsi became the King of Market. Thus, forcing Coca-Cola to return with Thums Up and the tagline, ‘I want my Thunder’. Right now, Coca-cola in planning on paying tribute to Ramesh Chauhan, the man who found Thums Up and take it outside of India.