afaqs!

Pepsi's signature style

By Biprorshee Das , afaqs!, Mumbai | In Advertising | March 04, 2011
The cola giant's 'Change the Game' World Cup campaign, currently on air celebrating cricketers' signature characteristics, has been much talked about; afaqs! takes a look at what went behind the idea of the big noise, large-scale campaign.

Brands normally shout at the top of their voices to announce their official partnership with a sports event. A similar trend can be seen during the ongoing ICC Cricket World Cup tournament, where most brands are proudly flaunting their 'official sponsor' tag as a suffix in their communication.

Fortunately, not every brand has gone the same way. Pepsi's way of announcing its official sponsorship through a slightly cheekier route has instantly grabbed eyeballs. The campaign is rightly titled - 'Change the Game'.

Created by Taproot India, the film showcases the signature style of each cricketer through an interesting story.

The creative duo at Taproot, Agnello Dias (Aggie) and Santosh Padhi (Paddy) reveals that the insight was derived from the fact that no other game has undergone so much change in the way it is played, watched, and evaluated in such a short time, as cricket.

"Most of 20th century saw the evolution of just Ranji's leg glance and the leg spinner's googly. However, in the last 20 years, we have had many more such styles as the Doosra, the Switch Hit, the Upper Cut, the Helicopter Shot, the Paddle Sweep, the Dil Scoop, and more."

Interestingly, none of these styles is in the coaching manuals, or in the technical videos of the game.

The television commercial showcases everything that is unorthodox about the game, be it Virender Sehwag's Upper Cut, Mahendra Singh Dhoni's Helicopter Shot, Harbhajan Singh's Doosra, Dilshan Tillakaratne's Dilscoop, and Kevin Pietersen's Switch Hit.

The umpires have not been spared, either. Billy Bowden, the international cricket umpire from New Zealand, features with his Tedi Ungal, a reference to the unusual way the umpire signals a batsman out - with a crooked finger.

Aggie and Paddy say, "No coach teaches you this. Each player creates his own. So, we just thought that it would be interesting to have Pepsi as the unofficial partner of all the new-age, unorthodox, out-of-the-textbook innovations in the game, including Billy Bowden's Crooked Finger."

The creative duo states that Pepsi, since the beginning, has always been a challenger brand. Its irreverent, anti-establishment, unorthodox tone of voice has not only been the soul of the brand, but has also personified its communication target group over the years. "So, our starting points were three - Very Pepsi, Very Youth, and Very one-day cricket," the duo says.

The other interesting aspect of the same is that the ad film has used real match footage, and the innovations were renamed in order to give them more mass popularity. The films have been directed by Prasoon Pandey of Corcoise Films and Vijay Maurya of Rising Sun Films.

Sandeep Singh Arora, executive vice-president, marketing, PepsiCo India, says, "The idea was to own everything that is unconventional and unorthodox. It is all about inspiring and provoking the youth. We are inspiring in the context of the game, and that is what the cricketers are doing."

The idea has met with mixed response from advertising professionals, though. While its whackiness has been appreciated, the critical views remain. To many, it also brings to mind the 'Nothing Official About It' campaign by Pepsi, done over a decade back.

Raghu Bhat, founder director, Scarecrow Communications, says, "It is a really cool idea, very original. The concept of borrowing from cricketers' DNA is very good. This comes from a brand that is closely observing the changing culture. It sends out a message that here is a brand that is associated with the game, not at a shallow level, but at a fundamental one. This is the 2011 edition of 'Nothing Official About It'."

However, Bhat is of the view that the multiple executions take away the charm, and suggests that there should either have been shorter renditions, or fewer executions. That would have made the campaign crispier. Moreover, the idea to feature actor Ranbir Kapoor in the Sehwag film does not go down too well with Bhat.

"Ranbir takes something away. The real stars are the unconventional shots. There was no need for another star in the film," says Bhat.

Rajeev Sharma, national planning director, Leo Burnett India, is a bit more critical. According to him, the campaign almost makes the brand slightly dated.

"As a passionate cricket lover, I have to say these innovations are five-to-six years old. Dhoni does not use the Helicopter Shot anymore. He is a much more composed cricketer. If I am not wrong, Saqlain Mushtaq invented the Doosra many years back. Ajantha Mendis' Carrom Ball would have probably been more appropriate," says Sharma.

"When the objective of a brand is to be contemporary and happening, this idea makes it slightly dated. The game is changing very rapidly and is becoming more technical. More should have been explored on what is new, and what is game-changing," he adds.

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