No. It's not the big, eagerly awaited theme commercial, which, industry watchers feel, could be Pepsi's ace in its war against Big Red in India. (That one is slotted for release only next month.) However, yesterday Amitabh Bachchan for the first time, appeared in a commercial for the Pepsi brand, along with Pepsi's livewire mascot Cyrus Broacha. The platform: a commercial for Pepsi's latest UTC (under the crown) promo 'Hai koi jawaab?'
The commercial is set in an elevator where Cyrus makes a startling entrée, shouting, "Main kaun hoon? Hai koi jawaab?" The camera pans to reveal the lone occupant of the lift - Amitabh Bachchan (attired as if he's straight out of the KBC sets), reading a newspaper report about a 'madman' on the loose. Bachchan stares at the intruder a trifle uncertainly.
Cyrus moves up to Bachchan and asks, "Amar Akbar Anthony dekha?" Bachchan, a bit taken aback by Cyrus, mumbles, "Haan… shaayad." Cyrus immediately launches his sawaal: "Usme Anthony ka kholi number kya tha?" Bachchan smiles, comes close to Cyrus, and whispers, "Kholi No. 420. Excuse me please."
Well, 420 happens to be the lucky number in the first round of this season's UTC promo. Anyway, once the mechanics of the promo are explained by the voiceover, the camera shows Cyrus asking Bachchan, "Uncle, aapki shakal Anthony se itni kyon milti hai?" To which Bachchan thoughtfully replies, "Milti hai, ya milti thi? Hai koi jawaab?"
While the mechanics of the two-and-a-half month long 'Hai koi jawaab' promo are quite similar to last year's UTC promo ('Mera number aayega'), the rendition of the communication is quite different. Explaining this, Deepak Jolly, executive vice-president, corporate communications, Pepsi Foods, said, "Last seasons' promo was a phenomenal success. So we decided to run a similar promo this season too. However, Pepsi does not repeat its ideas. Which is why, while last year we went for 'Mera number aayega', this time it's 'Hai koi jawaab'."
The thinking at Pepsi was that as there are so many gameshows all over the place with celebrities asking questions, here was a good opportunity to get "the messiah of non-stop nonsense (Cyrus) to ask celebrities questions" - questions with answers that pertain to numbers (such as 420) which could enable consumers to win. In fact, Pepsi has lined up a series of celebrities of whom Cyrus will ask questions: Preity Zinta, Rahul Dravid - and new Pepsi recruits VVS Laxman and Harbhajan Singh. "Like last season, this time too the promo will end up being a big attraction - if not bigger," Jolly insists.
Meanwhile, down south, Pepsi claims that its latest Tamil Nadu-centric commercial featuring Madhavan has "received very positive feedback". The commercial, released some 10 days ago, is based on the chartbusting Tamil song 'Desinga raja…' from Mani Ratnam's latest movie Dum Dum Dum. In the commercial, a girl who needs a bottle opener, tries to get the opener that Madhavan has slipped into his pocket, even as they dance.
"In the movie, the original song sequence is all about the one-upmanship between the hero (Madhavan) and the heroine (Jyotika)," says Vijay S. Subramaniam, vice-president, marketing, Pepsi Foods. "This fits in well with the mischievous one-upmanship in the ad. Also, the ad will reinforce Pepsi's association with Dum Dum Dum." Incidentally, Pepsi had tied up with Mani Ratnam to promote the movie.
The company is not willing to compare how the Madhavan ad has fared against rival Coke's ad featuring Vijay. "It's early days," is all Subramaniam says. However, Jolly insists that Pepsi's regional foray has met with a good response. "Even in Andhra where we now have Pawan Kalyan, the feedback is positive," he says. Subramaniam adds that the company has managed making a strong Pepsi-celebrity connect in the South.
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