Pepsi: Soaking up the Pressure

By Saumya Tewari , afaqs!, New Delhi | In Advertising | October 09, 2014
Pepsi picks the out-of-form Virat Kohli to represent the irreverent uber coolness of Indian youth who choose to wink in the face of pressure and succeed with confidence.

Continuing with its philosophy of irreverence, Pepsi is back with a new campaign, 'Pressure is Good', featuring cricketer Virat Kohli. Pepsi's timing and choice of model would seem impeccable especially because the player's below-par performance has attracted immense media scrutiny.

The new design glass bottles of Pepsi

The TVC opens with Kohli looking out at a packed cricket stadium from the window of his dressing room. Vijay Raaz (playing a journalist) questions him about the intensity of pressure he is facing. Virat chooses to sip Pepsi and face legendary South African all-rounder Jacques Kallis, answering all the questions through his performance. The campaign celebrates the never-say-die attitude of the Indian youth with the refrain 'Yehi hai moment, Live it Abhi'.

Ruchira Jaitly

Anuja Chauhan

Babita Baruah

Ruchira Jaitly, senior director marketing - Social Beverages, PepsiCo India believes that 'pressure' no longer is a negative term. "India is brimming with possibilities and positive force. The youth today wants to make a change and stamp their individuality on everything they do," she explains. Speaking on their choice of featuring Kohli in the campaign, Jaitly emphasises that the young cricketer epitomises 'confidence' and represents today's young generation who take pressure in their stride and perform, instead of succumbing to it.

Interestingly, the ad also features the new 'swirled grip' and twisted-bottle, designed by the company's global team based in New York. Dubbing it as 'new equity packaging', Jaitly explains that the revamp aims to bring out the brand's 'youthful' element. Apart from design, the company is also experimenting with product size. "We are now offering the drink in 400 ml and 150 ml packs. We changed the logo earlier this year. It is a part of PepsiCo's global positioning 'Live for Now', which is youthful."

PepsiCo's major competitor is Coca-Cola but increasing number of companies are launching beverages targeting the urban cola consumers. Does this mean that the cola segment is plateauing? "Absolutely not," asserts Jaitly, adding that there is a strong growth and momentum in the segment. "We understand that with increasing per capita income and penetration, the consumer will demand better and wider choices and we are continuously making efforts to address that. We have 'Indovation' - meaning India-focused innovation - in place where we innovate and create products as per evolving consumer preferences."

This is the first Pepsi campaign released after the integration of PO1 creative team at JWT. Anuja Chauhan - of 'Yeh Dil Maange More' and 'Oye Bubbly' fame - JWT's creative consultant for Pepsico has scripted the TVC. "Pepsi, as a product, comes alive under pressure, and so it inspires you to do the same - to stay chilled, audacious and optimistic, no matter what life throws at you," she notes adding that Kohli is the apt choice as a celebrity endorser for this campaign as he is a perfect representation of a young achiever who has the courage to face pressure and perform.

Babita Baruah, SVP and executive business director, JWT Delhi says that this campaign is reflective of Pepsi's spirit of effervescence. "The brand connects deep, with a wink, and reflects the confidence of youth today who look at pressure in the face and say - 'it's my moment'. This is the spirit of irrepressibility embodied by Pepsi, which comes alive under pressure. Virat reflects this spirit as a Pepsi protagonist," she explains.

PepsiCo entered India in 1989 and has grown to become one of the largest MNC food and beverage businesses in the country. The company has 37 beverage bottling plants and three food plants with a diverse portfolio that includes Pepsi, Lay's, Kurkure, Tropicana 100%, Gatorade and Quaker. Currently, the company has eight brands each of which generate Rs 1,000 crore or more in estimated annual retail sales.

What pressure?

Our experts believe while Kohli is the right choice to represent the success-hungry youth who refuses to buckle under pressure, the ad is lacklustre. However, the company manages to score brownie points for its sleek new product design.

Suman Srivastava

Ektaa Aggarwal

For Suman Srivastava, founder and innovation artist, Marketing Unplugged, the campaign does not bring out the 'Pressure' element well. "As a fan, I would like to see how Kohli copes with immense pressure and performs. I don't think the ad brings out this aspect well," he points out. Hiring sportsperson as brand endorsers is risky business, believes Srivastava. According to him, underperformance is a temporary element - a brand hires a sportsperson for the values he/she brings to it. "Virat is aggressive and a young achiever. He connects with youth who are Pepsi's primary TG. I believe he does full justice to the brand," he quips.

Speaking about the new product design of Pepsi bottles, Ektaa Aggarwal, creative director, Landor Associates notes that the structural twist design is thought through and sleeker. "On the functionality side it scores higher. The new design feels a lot more ergonomic. The grooves provide a better grip," she says. Aggarwal believes that while the new brand positioning 'Live for now' connects emotionally with the TG, in India activation campaigns outside cricket would be interesting to watch.

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