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Desi cold drink ‘Campa Cola’ to make a comeback, Reliance Industries acquires the brand to relaunch during Diwali

Reliance Industries purchased the Campa Cola brand from Pure Drinks Group for around Rs 22 crore and said that it would relaunch the Campa cola by October this year.

Long before any of our favourite cold drink brands dominated the market, there existed this ‘Made In India’ cola drink named Campa Cola which was closer to probably everyone’s heart during the 1990s. Campa Cola was a huge part of the Indian market for over two decades before two US-based cola giants led to the eventual decline of the desi cola brand.

Campa Cola vanished from the shelves of grocery stores by the year 1999, but now is making a comeback as Reliance Industries plans to relaunch the product by Diwali this year. In a bid to scale up the FMCG business, Reliance Industries this week acquired the brand Campa and has planned to re-launch the Cola product by October this year nearing Diwali.

According to reports, Reliance Industries purchased the brand from Delhi-based Pure Drinks Group for around Rs 22 crore and said that it would relaunch the Campa cola by October this year. The Campa Cola will be relaunched in three flavours including its iconic cola, the lemon flavour, and orange.

With this, the brand will attempt to compete with existing similar cola products including Coca-Cola and PepsiCo, which once led to Campa’s gradual demise in the 1990s. While other desi cold drink brands Thums Up, Limca, Gold Spot, Citra and Maaza were purchased by Coca-Cola from Parle in 1993, resulting in the continued presence of those brands in the market, Campa Cola was not subject to any such acquisition. Reports mention that the product will be accessible for purchase in Reliance Retail shops, JioMart outlets, and Kirana retailers that buy Reliance items.

Reliance eyeing on the FMCG market

Reliance Industries is planning to enter the Fast-Moving Consumer Goods (FMCG) market. Recently, at the 45th Annual General Meeting (AGM) of the company, Isha Ambani who is the director of Reliance Retail Ventures Ltd (RRVL) said that the company would launch the FMCG goods business this year.

According to the reports, Reliance Industries have identified around two dozen potential brands which can be acquired or partnered with by the company to strengthen the FMCG sector. “A couple of deals have already fallen through due to the high valuations sought. Reliance’s strategy is to go for small-sized deals valued at a few crores”, the company executive stated to the Economic Times.

Earlier, the company collaborated with Meta and Jio Mart to launch Reliance Retail on WhatsApp, allowing customers to order groceries over WhatsApp. The business is also in advanced negotiations with an edible oil and namkeen brand, as well as a soap brand.

Campa Cola was huge hit after Coca Cola was asked to leave India

The recently acquired cola brand named Campa was quintessentially a Delhi brand and was manufactured at its headquarters at Shankar Market. The production was a huge hit since its launch in the year the 1970s. Campa Cola was launched by Pure Drinks Group, which also owns the Le Méridien hotel in Delhi after Coca-Cola was asked to leave the country in 1977 by the then Janata Party government over alleged violations of the Foreign Exchange Regulations Act. The then Janata Government had also asked other multinationals such as IBM to leave the country along with Coca-Cola.

Goerge Fernandes was the Industry Minister in the post-emergency government led by former PM Morarji Desai. He had asked the Coca-Cola company to follow the regulations and demanded it dilutes its equity stake in its Indian associates to 60 percent. Fernandes also desired that Coca-Cola Company share the formula for its concentrate with Indian stockholders. The corporation stated that it was willing to transfer a majority of the shares but not the formula, which it claimed was a trade secret.

The firm, therefore, left the Indian market as the then government denied them permission to import Coke concentrate. However, once the P V Narasimha Rao administration liberalized the Indian market in October 1993, it made a strong comeback and has maintained a significant presence ever since.

The instant hit Cola vanished by 1999

It is notable that Pure Drinks Group (PDG) was the first to introduce Coca-Cola to India in 1949, and it remained the company’s sole licensed maker and distributor in India till the 1970s. The PDG then launched Campa Cola in the decade of 1970s after Coca-Cola exited the Indian markets. For about 15 years after 1977, Campa Cola became Delhi’s cold beverage of choice. The brand was an instant hit and was manufactured in over 50 factories across the country, including four in Delhi. Reports mention that the CP factory was the oldest one hosting the production of Campa Cola and the other three factories were located at Moti Nagar, Najafgarh, and Okhla.

Later, similar products began to enter the market to compete with Campa Cola. The Parle Group brought Thums Up which eventually ruled over the customers in Mumbai. Thums Up was later acquired by Coca-Cola in 1993 along with other brands owned by Parle, Limca, Gold Spot, Citra and Maaza. The production of the Campa Cola carbonated drink also declined and stopped in the due course after the return of Coca-Cola in 1993, and the entry of Pepsi in 1989, due to the dominance of their brands. Local brands could not compete with the mighty ad budgets of the American multinationals, and all the Campa production units were shut down by the year 1999.

However, Campa has made repeated efforts to re-enter the market, the most recent in 2019, but has been unable to compete with established players owing to a lack of financial strength. Reliance Industries has now acquired the brand and is planning to relaunch the product by October this year nearing Diwali. RIL had the financial and distribution muscle to compete with the global brands, and soon Campa Cola could become a familiar cold drink across India.

Ayodhra Ram Mandir special coverage by OpIndia

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OpIndia Staff
OpIndia Staff
Staff reporter at OpIndia

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