Canada Dry boogies with Bollywood Picnic

The soda brand rolled out an in-store contest to appeal to South Asian consumers as part of an ongoing multicultural strategy.


Soft drink brand Canada Dry once again looked to reach South Asian shoppers beyond “special occasions,” this time creating a Bollywood-inspired contest that brings its products into people’s living rooms.

For a two-month period, ending July 31st, the brand offered a “private Bollywood picnic experience” for a winner and up to 20 guests, which includes a performance by Bollywood singer and actress, Miraya Varma (pictured above). Auxiliary campaign elements included in-store POS, along with 30-second TV and 15-second digital video ads, which ran on major ethnic channels including Zee TV, B4U and PTC Punjabi, with media buys executed by the brand’s AOR, Ethnicity Matters.

Consumers were invited to enter the 12-digit unique product code found on participating Canada Dry and C’Plus beverages to be eligible for the contest. The contest was rolled out in both mainstream and independent grocers.

This is not the first time Canada Dry has reached out to South Asian consumers. “Real Everyday Moments” put hockey fans’ photos into the Hockey Night In Canada: Punjabi Edition on Omni Television as part of the brand’s overarching sponsorship. It employed the tagline, “real ginger, real chill,” and its strategy was to tie the product (often seen as connected to special occasions like Diwali) to more everyday moments. The brand has also engaged with the Chinese community through mall takeover campaigns running during Chinese New Year events. And Mihiri Tillakaratne, brand marketing manager at Canada Dry Mott’s, has told strategy that the brand will be looking to identify new opportunities as part of an ongoing multicultural strategy.

The brand was unable to comment on the Bollywood picnic campaign before press, but Seneca College marketing professor Bhupesh Shah, who is the founder of Ethnicomm, a niche marketing firm catering to businesses seeking to connect with ethnic markets, spoke to strategy about the growing importance of the South Asian community, stating that it’s become a viable target for brands with products that are naturally aligned with the group, like Canada Dry.

Shah says the brand is in a good position to increase its “share of stomach,” as ginger ale is seen by many South Asians as a healthier option versus soda or other carbonated drink options. Ginger is a digestive that’s ubiquitous in South Asian cuisine, Shah says, and that it’s a reminder of products back home, as it’s a bit like the spicy masala soda drink (a street vendor hit in places like India). Also, he says flat ginger ale is a South Asian “go-to” for upset stomachs, a more convenient option than brewing ginger tea.

As for the campaign, Shah says that creating a contest that features Miraya Varma is an apt one, as she was born outside the Indian subcontinent, but has a South Asia flair that appeals to second-generation South Asian Canadians. Shah says that Miraya is approachable too, due to her relative newness on the scene. She’s also in a similar age group to those that would be making decisions on what type of pop to consume or allow their kids to consume. “South Asians, like many other cultures, are family and extended-family oriented,” adds Shah. “Picnics are typically not just a small affair and there is a lot of sharing of favourite dishes. Why not share your pop as well?”