Coca-Cola Journey Staff in conversation with Rizwan Ullah Khan, General Manager, The Coca-Cola Export Corporation, Pakistan & Afghanistan.
Music and religion have always found meaning in each other and what better place than the subcontinent itself be witness to the unison. Music here is inspired from nature, religion, culture and our history. The Coke Studio concept commenced in 2008 in Pakistan where it quickly became a cultural institution and inspired an international franchise rooted in musical and cultural fusion. The format – which has been scaled to India, the Middle East and, just recently, Africa – combines Pakistan’s myriad musical influences, from eastern classical and folk, to contemporary hip-hop, rock and pop.
Journey Pakistan (JP): Why was music chosen as the primary vehicle for this campaign?
Rizwan Ullah Khan (RUK): Corporations are continuously in the quest to tap into the nation’s diverse passion points to drive consumption but fail to connect to the broader context of people’s lives. Extensive research suggested that the two main driving factors amongst the Pakistani youth are cricket and music.
With more than 60% of the population falling under the youth bracket, Coca-Cola Pakistan realized that there was a need to create an asset for the youth of Pakistan that they could identify with. An asset that would bridge tensions between traditional values & the prevalent modern culture in Pakistan which would culminate in the youth a sense of passion, patriotism but most importantly provide them with an outlook, that they can aspire towards. With the parent company having a long association with music, it was decided that music will be employed as a passion point to fortify the company and brands position to recruit youth as well as further  build the company and brand love in Pakistan.
Music is such a big realm, how did you manage to connect with your consumer?
Precisely. Even within the category of music, the question that remained relevant was:  ‘how to ‘connect’ to the broader context of people’s lives and only then they can uniquely add value or meaning’. Coca-Cola found its answer by creating an asset titled Coke Studio that posited itself as a source material for self-expression and imagination for the youth of Pakistan. Coke Studio aims to connect with its consumers by transcending all boundaries of race, creed, and religion to unite people of all age groups, of all cultures and all persuasions through the universal language of music primarily focusing on fusion of music.
Could you tell us about the process?
Coca-Cola developed a multi-dimensional strategy that foremost aimed to identify its post-modern consumer, as an active user, who is continuously seeking for solutions in their social setting and environment, but most importantly an emotional intuitive searcher.  Secondly, promised to provide superior value asset that will deliver customer satisfaction by reviving the music industry in Pakistan.  Lastly, create an asset that would become an integral part of the consumer’s life and enrich his/her experience with the brand Coke.
How is Coke Studio different to other music platforms?
Coke Studio distinguished itself and created a unique individual space within the collective music space  by focusing on fusion; fusion of different genres of music, languages and cultures.  By weaving together eastern values with western influences, Coke Studio introduces the youth of Pakistan to their cultural fabric in a way that is totally palatable and acceptable to them. They are introduced to languages they’ve never heard of and hear lyrics that stimulate them emotionally and intellectually. Coke Studio has given a strong sense of ownership, inspiration and pride to Pakistanis. As an asset, Coke Studio is all about bridging barriers by fusing optimism and this is what the brand Coca-Cola also stands for – Open happiness.
What do you think is the primary factor for Coke Studio’s success?
Although the acclaim Coke Studio receives is anchored in the unique insight that drove its inception, the manner in which it was amplified across multiple touch-points over the course of seven seasons has contributed a great deal to its popularity and success. Coke Studio is a prime example of working with various stakeholders and the success of this asset could not have been possible without our previous producer Rohail Hyatt and our current producers Strings. Digital media definitely played an instrumental role in enlarging its scope and making it accessible to a wider audience.
What are your future plans with Coke Studio?
 We have just reached the tipping point with Coke Studio. The asset has great potential in the future, with more than 100 million views on its YouTube Channel, 48% international viewership, more than 4 million facebook fans we can take it to greater heights and destinations. Each year we add a unique dimension to the campaign, you all will have to wait and see what we bring next year!