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  • Writer's pictureKanhaiya Maheshwary

Britannia Khao World Cup Jao - A marketing campaign that knocked the ball out of the park!

It was a hot summer evening in 1999 and I, all of 8 years, was returning home after having scouted the entire 2 kilometer radius around my apartment complex along with my neighbor to find a store that still had THE scratch booklet in stock. It wasn't any ordinary booklet. The one I was looking for carried the promise of a ticket to the '99 Cricket World Cup in England. I had finally found a store that gave me one with former Indian captain and '83 World Cup winner Kapil Dev's cover, and as soon as I reached home, I was berated by my brother because we already had an identical one.

If you grew up in India anywhere around or before the 1990s, you will exactly know what I am talking about. FMCG bigwig Britannia had come up with a campaign - 'Britannia Khao World Cup Jao' (Eat Britannia, visit the World Cup!) which promised to send 100 lucky winners to the Cricket World Cup. In a cricket-frenzied country like India, they really knocked the ball out of the park with this campaign.

In a cricket-frenzied country like India, they really knocked the ball out of the park with this campaign.

The premise was that you had to collect a total of '100 points' by purchasing various products like biscuits, fruit-cake, bread. Every product was worth certain points as indicated on the wrapper. The more expensive the product, the more it was worth. For instance, the fruit-cake was worth 40 points, whereas the regular sized bread packet was worth only 15. And as soon as you'd collect 100 points, you could give it to any shopkeeper who stocked Britannia's products in return for a 'booklet'. There were 9 such booklets, each featuring former World Cup winners on the cover such as Kapil Dev, Imran Khan, Jayasuriya, and so on and so forth.

At that point of time, it was estimated that at least 300 million Indians would be watching the upcoming World Cup. In anticipation of grabbing these many eyeballs, Britannia conceptualized this sales promotion campaign and spent about INR 900 million including both ads around this campaign as well as on the actual sales promotion itself. At Rs. 3 per person, it ensured great cost per reach. And while stats and increase in sales (which we will discuss later) surely paint a great picture about this campaign, the success of this promotional campaign goes far beyond the numbers. For one, I remember having force-fed myself bread and biscuits just so that I could ask my mom to re-stock some more whilst secretly harboring the hope that I would get more product wrappers with points, and hence more booklets.

In a country of 300 million cricket viewers, they spent a total of INR 900 million on this campaign. At Rs. 3 / person, it was a very economical cost/reach.

And talking about the booklets, they were a magical world in itself. Every booklet contained World Cup '99 group fixtures and schedule, brief notes about the past World Cup finals and iconic games, statistics of key players against their upcoming '99 World Cup opponents, quizzes and much more.

And while every booklet I ever got resulted in 'Try Again', there was a certain charm in collecting the booklet itself regardless of what the outcome would be. I remember having spent several evenings with my brother and our friends simply sitting and comparing the different booklets we had, and all the fun information it contained. After a point of time, even the shopkeeper knew that we were visiting his store either to purchase bread / biscuits, or to redeem our 100 points in return for a booklet.

Britannia played it extremely smartly all along, and created a campaign that tugged the emotional heartstrings of a country of hundreds of millions of cricket fanatics. For me, there are reasons, both practical and emotional, as to why this campaign was so great & hugely successful.

  1. India was still a country of lower middle income people back in the 90s. This campaign had an aspirational value which promised to take people to a place that they could possibly only ever dream of during that time.

  2. In 1997, Britannia's top management had set a target of making every third Indian its customer. With 300 million cricketing fans out of a country of roughly 1 billion people, the ratios looked ripe.

  3. Britannia had been seeing a 30% fall in biscuit sales during the end of Q1 since the last few years. This campaign, which ran between Jan to April 1999 coincided with Quarter, and would help in not just arresting that fall but also in growing it!

  4. The final business outcome - profit growth by 37%!

In the next 2 years, Britannia eventually went on to feature in a Forbes Global list of 300 companies, as well as featured among one of India's largest companies in 2000. This campaign was instrumental in leapfrogging the fortune of the company. And hidden behind all the profit numbers are hundreds of thousands of Indians like me who look back fondly at those evenings when they would sit and compare their booklets with their friends. It's a memory that will always be as sharp as that Lance Klusner run-out in the '99 World Cup semi finals.


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