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BOMBAY -- Coca-Cola Co.'s latest commercials in this cricket-crazy nation feature Bollywood superstars Aamir Khan and Aishwarya Rai, who ap-pear as ordinary viewers in separate ads running on national and satellite TV. The ads were creat-ed by Leo Burnett Worldwide, which recently lost the Coke business here to McCann-Erickson World-wide.

The theme of both commercials is "superstition linked to cricket" -- the fact that many fans link some little personal ritual to the outcome of a game, such as the seat they sit on.

In a jab at rival Pepsi, bad luck is linked to the color blue, while good play is associated with red.

The spot opens with Mr. Khan tossing a Coke top in the air and the cap lands Coke side up. He then gets ready to watch the match at home with friends by arranging chairs according to a superstitious seating plan. A boy wearing blue is told to leave the room as he would bring bad luck. Mr. Khan then "influences" the play by tossing the Coke top.

Coca-Cola has a number of film stars as celebrity endorsers, but only a few cricket stars, such as Anil Kumble and Srinath, on its side. Archrival Pepsi has been successful in sweeping most of the cricketing greats into its endorsement stable.

Copyright March 2001, Crain Communications Inc.

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