If you’re from Africa, chances are you’ve heard about Coke Studio Africa. The music show which is on its fifth season this year and has stolen the hearts and minds of millennials everywhere and made dreams come true for hopeful artists all across Africa, all while spreading happiness with every sip. Coke Studio is “where music meets”. How does a Brand go about connecting all Africans from all walks of life? Here’s what Waithera Kabiru, Digital Manager, Africa at Coca-Cola had to say about the Coke Studio journey.

Waithera Kabiru
Waithera Kabiru, Digital Manager for Coca-Cola Africa

1. What is Coke Studio and how long has it been running for so far?

W.K: Music is one of Africa’s strongest passion points. Coke Studio is a music show that is created by the Coca-Cola brand to speak to this passion. Coke Studio allows us to engage and connect with teens and young adults across Africa.

The show is currently in its fifth year and we have grown significantly by airing in more and more markets with each season making Coke Studio a truly Pan African show airing in 30 countries across the continent.

We always knew we wanted to do something around music, and after studying what we had done with Coke Studio in Pakistan we decided that this was a platform we can take and adapt for Africa.

2. The line goes “where music meets”. How do you feel Coke Studio has pushed the envelope in breaking boundaries or changed the game so to speak?

W.K: Coke Studio has played a big role in enabling music and culture to travel across different countries in Africa and as you know, Africa is not a country [Laughs].

All the individual countries on the continent of Africa have unique identities, different languages and different music genres and we recognize that. And that’s what we mean by “Where music meets”. Coke Studio Africa brings all these different elements and fuses them together.

And there are segments of Coke Studio where it’s not just about the music but about the culture and the audience gets to be exposed to that too. 

3. We’ve seen a lot of music shows, what is the Coke Studio X factor, the thing that gives it that edge

W.K: Coke Studio is a collaborative rather than competitive platform. It is the only show that brings independent musicians to work together, who would otherwise never meet, to make music together. We mix genres to create new genres and the end result is a fantastic fusion of sounds. We truly believe that music is the universal language and that is what drives us.

4. We know that Coca-Cola is all about great pairings, with food and now with music. Could you tell us a little bit about how the brand is a hero when it comes to Coke Studio?

If you really think about it, music is all about bringing joy and happiness and feeling. And Coca-Cola too is all about spreading joy and happiness. So pairing the two was just seamless.

Our view is the best way to enjoy music is with a Coca-Cola.

5. The landscape is changing every day and people are consuming content more on digital than on TV. How is Coca-Cola adapting to this shift?

Initially, Coke Studio was a TV show predominantly aired on TV. However, times have changed and consumers in all our markets are going more online to watch the digital version of Coke Studio.

All of the research that we do after every season has pointed toward our viewers shifting to digital, so we have made a deliberate switch to online and using a mobile first approach. All our content is available on YouTube or as bite size content on social media.

Coke Studio has now evolved into an online show and television complements it.

6. When did the realization that Coke Studio could be really big hit you?

From the jump, when we started Coke Studio Africa our vision was for it to be Pan African and all inclusive. We knew we would bring fresh elements to the show by creating new genres and bringing out new artists and that set us up to be a big hit. When we started off a lot of people didn’t really understand what we were trying to do but I can say that now people get it. We are creating music in a very unique way.

7. Coke Studio has some diehard fans and their number has grown quite a bit over the years. Do you see a version of Coke Studio that will include them in the show?

W.K: I will never say never, because as the years go by we’re always looking at what we can do differently and better.