Youngsters Mohammed Kaif and Yuvraj Singh dug their heels in and enabled India to pull off an astonishing win (chasing a mammoth 326 runs) against England in the finals the NatWest Trophy in mid-July. Hopes soared.
Last week, Virender Sehwag and skipper Saurav Ganguly savaged the English bowling to score 270 runs in just 40 overs to secure India a place in the Champions Trophy semi-finals. Hopes soared.
A mere three days later, the Indian team choked the spirit out of the gritty South Africans to come back from the brink and register an incredible 10 run victory to enter the finals of the Champions Trophy. Hopes soared.
Hopes have been soaring a lot these days in India, at least if you're half a cricket fan. In fact, as the Indian team ran the victory lap at the NatWest finals, somehow, mysteriously, images of the current team holding aloft the World Cup floated in front of the eyes. Quickly remedied with a small shake of the head, of course. For remedied they had to be. These are early days, and no point in dreaming about winning the World Cup and putting the pressure of expectation on our players. (The more pessimistically inclined would also see the entertainment of such thoughts as an open invitation to disappointment, should the expectations not be met.)
Yet, it can't be helped if hopes soar…
It is this predicament of the Indian cricket fan that Pepsi's pre-World Cup 2003 advertising campaign (created by JWT, Delhi, and produced by Highlight Films) focuses on. The campaign, on air to coincide with the ICC Champions Trophy (the last big pre-World Cup tournament, also termed as the 'mini World Cup'), consists of two 30-second 'montage' commercials, where cricket fans take pains to assure our cricketing heroes that they are under no pressure to perform. At the same time, dropping broad-as-daylight hints about how they'd love the team to bring the Cup home.
So you have first commercial where endorser Shah Rukh Khan tells the camera: 'Our message to the Indian team - haar-jeet toh lagi rehti hai. Koi pressure nahin.' However, it is soon revealed that Shah Rukh is actually concealing a cup that, to him, is representative of the World Cup. Cut to the shot of an ascetic making his way along a bathing ghat. 'World Cup ki hamein kya ichha hogi?' he asks. 'Sab moh-maya hai,' he assures, but a glimpse of his hand shows him carrying a 'cup' in place of the traditional 'kamandal'. Cut to a construction site where an engineer looks into the camera: 'We are not building any hopes… yeh toh aise hi…' The 'yeh' he is referring to is a huge cup-shaped construction coming up behind him… Cut to Shah Rukh, who smiles and says, 'Ek Cup aur.'
Similarly, the second ad has Shah Rukh walking down a flight of stairs. 'Guys, just get me something from South Africa, something nice…' he says. He zips up his jacket, and in the process, reveals a cup-like motif adorning the jacket. 'Zyaada kuch nahin…' he smiles cheekily. Another fan, a handcart-puller, complains, 'World Cup jeeto, World Cup jeeto… yeh fan log bahut dabav dalte hain, bhai.' However, as he runs off dragging his handcart, we see the cart loaded with cups. Another shot has endorser Fardeen Khan asking the guys to 'just party' in South Africa. Needless to say, that suggestion too is loaded.
Speaking about the 'Cup Fever' campaign and its timing, a Pepsi spokesperson says, "The World Cup takes place in Feb 2003. Most of the participating countries are also treating the Champions Trophy as a preparation for the World Cup. So the Champions Trophy provides a good platform for the build-up to the World Cup."
The interesting aspect about this campaign is the focus on the Indian cricket fan, as opposed to the cricketers themselves (of course, a different ad featuring the players is parallelly on air). Also new is this element of latent hope fans nurture about our winning the World Cup. "The Indian team has a new look, a new aggression, a new will to win," says Rohit Ohri, vice-president and client services director, JWT. "As our team grows in confidence, the hopes of millions of cricket fans grow as well. It's this new feeling that these Pepsi ads are reflecting. Yeh dil maange World Cup..."
Pepsi, on its part, believes that this campaign serves in refreshing the brand's association with the game and the stars. "The commercials not only have cricket lovers from different walks of life, but also feature film stars such as Shah Rukh, Fardeen Khan and Kareena Kapoor as cricket lovers," points out the Pepsi spokesperson.
Wanting more… without really asking for more. A tone slightly different from Pepsi's usual figure of speech. "The insight is best brought alive through an aspect of the mother-child relationship when the mother tells the son to just study hard and not to worry about coming first in exams," Ohri explains. "But in her heart, she hopes that he tops the class. In much the same way, Indian cricket fans don't want to put pressure on their team. At the same time, they want the World Cup."
"The thought behind the two commercials is that even though the 'dil' of millions of cricket fans craves for the World Cup, they don't want to put too much pressure on the Indian team," is Pepsi's take. "This conundrum of the Indian cricket fans saying 'just play well', yet feverishly praying for victory, is captured by Pepsi's brand idea 'Yeh dil maange more.' Our message to the Men in Blue: 'Ek cup aur'. The campaign captures that conflict."
Ohri reveals that this campaign is likely to form the backbone of all Pepsi advertising in India, during the run-up to the World Cup 2003. He adds that with time, these two ads "will be supplemented by shorter edits" with "some new situations". However, the 'building hopes' message and its tone will not change to something more demanding. "The whole insight is about 'wanting' but not being too aggressive about that desire. Subtle hints... from the fans…" he informs.
Incidentally, Pepsi's theme ad for this World Cup is scheduled to break in February 2003. During the last World Cup, Pepsi's theme ad had been the Shah Rukh-Sachin two-part 'impersonating' commercial. To a question on the extent to which the current campaign will dovetail with the planned theme ad, Ohri's reply is, "Wait and watch!" Â© 2002 agencyfaqs!