Shibani Gharat

Pepsi changes the game, literally

The cola brand has switched from cricket to football in its latest TVC, created by JWT India.

Pepsi, a brand that has been associated with every ball, run, wicket, century and inning of cricket in India since it entered the country, has launched a new television commercial on football. The goal is to connect with the youth and their liking of the game. However, the brand claims that it stands by cricket, and everything is official about it this time!

The recent TVC created by JWT India brings alive Pepsi's youthful irreverence, where a young football enthusiast gives a fittingly cheeky reply to actor and brand endorser Ranbir Kapoor, who questions his passion for football. The TVC ends with a delightful take on Kapoor displaying his football skills, with hilarious results.

Pepsi changes the game, literally
The TVC is directed by Shujaat Saudagar and produced by Ashit Ghelani of Boot Polish Films. The music director is Clinton Cerejo.

Cricket and Pepsi

The cricketing season is about to begin with the next season of Indian Premier League (IPL), which will be followed by the T20 World Cup. As a brand, Pepsi has had a long standing relation with the game in India. From its famous ambush on rival Coca-Cola during the 1996 World Cup (There is Nothing Official About it campaign) to the 2011 ICC World Cup's 'Change the game', Pepsi has stood rock solid with the game.

Pepsi changes the game, literally
Pepsi changes the game, literally
In fact, during World Cup 2011, Pepsi highlighted its association with the tournament through the campaign 'Change the game'. Conceptualised by Taproot India, the campaign showcased the signature style of each cricketer through an interesting story. Later, the beverage company returned during the fourth season of IPL in 2011 with a new rendition of the same campaign. Only this time, the idea was conceptualised by its other agency, JWT.

The current TVC reflects the waning influence of cricket on Youngistaan.

Deepika Warrier, executive director, marketing, PepsiCo Beverages India feels that football is gaining immense popularity in India. "Pepsi has always taken the lead in celebrating newer and emerging youth platforms; from cricket to movies to music, the brand has successfully created memorable campaigns and experiences for Youngistaan."

However, this will not stop Pepsi's association with cricket. "With an exciting line up of cricketing events including IPL, ICC World Twenty20 and a host of thrilling football initiatives, Pepsi promises an action-filled, fun year ahead," she adds.

Surjo Dutt, executive creative director, JWT India, too, defends the campaign and Pepsi's association with cricket. "However, Pepsi has always been on the lookout for other platforms to connect with young people. Football is one such platform. People love cricket. But they have also started liking football."

He says that the idea was to convey what the young are saying anyway, that "football bhi achha game hai". "The brief was to create a cool, funky, classically Pepsi commercial talking about the youth's new love for football. The youth have changed the game by loving another game. That is what we wanted to talk about," he adds.

The campaign will have a 360-degree approach including outdoor, consumer engagement and social media programmes.

Football and Pepsi

Pepsi changes the game, literally
Globally, Pepsi has had some memorable TVCs on the game of football. In April 2003, the eyes of every football lover were glued to the Champions League quarter final showdown between Manchester United and Real Madrid. Pepsi took advantage of the situation and produced a topical TVC on the clash, where ManUs ride into a Real-occupied desert town.

Another noteworthy TVC from Pepsi featured giant Sumo wrestlers beating football's finest players at their own game, carrying away the ultimate prize - no points for guessing - Pepsi, of course.

"We anticipate that football will gain a lot of social currency in India in the coming years," says Atika Malik, senior vice-president and executive planning director, JWT India. Calling football the 'next big buzz in the life of the youth', she says that in India, Pepsi is merely reflecting the global approach of association with the game. "Also, every year, PepsiCo has big plans for the summer and this campaign is a part of the plan."

Old game?

Pepsi changes the game, literally
Earlier, a few brands have associated themselves with football in India. In 2010, for Asia Cup football, the Indian team's sponsor Panasonic used all its major brand ambassadors in a TVC. The list included cricketers Gautam Gambhir and Virender Sehwag, and members of the Indian football team such as Baichung Bhutia, Mehrajuddin Wadoo, Steven Dias, N P Pradeep and actor Ranbir Kapoor, as well. In the same year, Maruti Suzuki's TVC for the Swift had a football in the back seat and the vehicle playing the game. In fact, DNA India carried out a campaign titled 'India Posi+ive 2022 World Cup.'

Nabankur Gupta, founder of Nobby Brand Architects, likes the change of the game for Pepsi. "It is clutter breaking," he says. He feels that if the brand was moving away from cricket to only concentrate on football, then it would have been a different issue altogether. "But the brand will use cricket as a platform anyways and moving to another popular game is a smart move. Football is a popular and energetic game and it blends well with Pepsi," he adds.

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