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Pepsi Max: Lending a new dimension to the youth

By Rohit Nautiyal , afaqs!, New Delhi | In Advertising | August 23, 2010
The first TV commercial for Pepsi Max shows a bunch of friends pulling off a violent act to get what they want. The ad is an adaptation of a global campaign

While Pepsi continues to add nuances to its Youngistaan, keeping in line with the global communication, the first commercial for Pepsi Max - the beverage giant's latest offering for the Indian market - takes the madness quotient to the next level.

& #BANNER1 & #An adaptation of one of the Pepsi Max commercials launched in the US last year by CLM BBDO, the film opens in an office where a job interview is on. The interviewer calls for the first candidate, who walks in with a bottle of Pepsi Max. The interviewer asks him why he should be given the job. The candidate looks at the ceiling as if thinking and groans loudly, pretending to be bashed by the interviewer - who is baffled at the act.

In the next few scenes, the candidate slaps himself, throws himself against a wall and some books off the shelf, immerses his head in the aquarium, rips off his shirt and finally, throws himself out of the interviewer's office into the waiting area to take off. Falling for the act, the other candidates make a hasty exit in terror. Only one candidate holds on to his seat and eventually, the helpless interviewer has no option but to offer him the job.

In the end, one realises that the violent act was a set up by three friends to ward off other prospective candidates and guarantee the job for one of them. The ad ends on the shot of all the three friends celebrating with a dance.

The Indian film has been created by the team at JWT, including Soumitra Karnik, executive creative director; Hari Krishnan, vice-president and Amit Wadhwa, associate vice-president. The production was handled by Bang Bang Films; the international director duo of Nic and Sune, who also directed the last Youngistaan commercial featuring Ranbir Kapoor, has put together the film this time as well.

Discussing the film, Karnik shares that as the storyline was universal there was no need to reinvent the communication. "In order to appeal to the Indian sensibilities, the needful was done by getting an Indian cast and adding some Hindi dialogues. It is an attempt to start a conversation with youngsters who are out of their college in a new friend circle and are looking for their first job."

"The Pepsi Max drinker is street smart and someone who revels in laugh out loud experiences with his mates," he adds.

More films will be rolled out as the brand goes national.

Punita Lal, executive director, marketing, PepsiCo India, reveals that Pepsi Max is one of PepsiCo's most successful brands that has driven growth and rapidly built market share across the globe.

"With this launch, brand Pepsi further strengthens its leadership in the cola category by offering its consumers a beverage with a higher cola kick, more fizz, punch and an added advantage of no sugar," she says.

Pepsi Max, currently available in Delhi and NCR, comes in a new black packaging comprising of can and PET bottles. While the 250 ml can is priced Rs 15, the 330 ml can and the 500 ml PET are priced at Rs 25.

The launch is being supported by a multi media campaign involving outdoor innovations such as building wraps and larger than life bottles of the drink fabricated on mobile vans.

In addition to in-store activations, experiential sampling will see exclusive mobile bars in high visibility areas such as multiplexes and malls, allowing consumers to interact with bartenders through a sampling exercise. This approach will also extend to the social media domain, with plans to engage the core target group online.

With its many global campaigns over the years, PepsiCo has managed to strike the right chord with the youth. For instance, the 'Ask for more' campaign became 'Yeh dil mange more' in India. Also, the copy of one of the commercials for Miranda, created in India, was tweaked and launched in other Southeast Asian markets.

According to Jagdeep Kapoor, chairperson and managing director, Samsika Marketing Consultants, global communication works well across different markets with the right local adaptation.

"While the brand positioning should be distinct and clear, equal importance should be given to the setting and the language. If the communication is not localised properly, the target group may feel alienated," he says.

Well adapted?

Kunal Gill, executive creative director, Dentsu Creative Impact sees the ad as a fresh breath of life to Pepsi's communication. "I can't remember the last time Pepsi's advertising did not feature celebrities. Secondly, some of the most memorable Pepsi work has always been about people doing strange things in order to get their hands on Pepsi. So, this one gets full marks for being different," he says.

At the same time, he has doubts on the suitability of the ad to convey the brand message. "What is the connect between the guy's behaviour and the drink? My take is that they're talking about a sugar-free drink that has a strong flavour but it could also be a drink with a kick in it - like Red Bull," he adds.

Anirban Mozumdar, senior vice-president, planning, Publicis India sees no reason why the communication will not click with the youngsters. "Even when the main idea is same across the globe, one needs to make suitable changes depending on the peculiarities of each market. With proliferation in the Internet, the Indian youth is in line with the global environment," he says.

Also, he believes that the brand could have worked on the topicality of the ad by launching it close to the time when academic sessions end and young people are on the lookout for jobs. Overall, he feels that the commercial is well executed and the soul of the brand remains intact.

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