In its latest campaign called 'Bhaag', Pepsi - title sponsor of the IPL - addresses and applauds the nation's aspiring cricketers.
Titled 'Bhaag', the campaign is timed perfectly; the IPL 7 recently entered both, its most exciting phase and its homeland.
Created by Taproot India, both TVCs have a similar storyline. Each 75 seconder shows a young boy sprinting across town, all the way to a cricket stadium, where an IPL match is underway. The boy somehow manages to dodge the security guards, run onto the field and interrupt the ongoing game; he bumps into Dhoni (in one film) and Kohli (in the other) while the two professionals are hard at work - see what we mean by headline of this article?
Visibly stumped by this sudden encroachment, the cricketers ask the boys (by this time a second youngster has come onto the filed) what they're up to. In each film, the brazen protagonist casually replies, "Khelne ki jaldi mein the, isliye yahan tak aa gaye," highlighting their pressing need to succeed, instantly. Amused, the cricketers identify with this need and challenge the boys to a game.
In a bid to portray the unharnessed enthusiasm that aspiring cricketers have for the game, the agency has used a slightly - how should we put it? - dramatised version of reality in the films. Agnello Dias, chief creative officer, Taproot India, reminds us that the IPL, despite all the negativity surrounding it, has given many young cricketers a platform to revive their careers.
Aggie, as he is popularly known, elaborates, "Not everyone can make it to Ranji and Indian cricket team. The IPL has given the country many talented, young players... and has given these players some hope." The campaign is thus built on what he calls 'aspirational ground'. Which is why the tournament is showcased as an 'open event' in which anyone with caliber is given a fair chance to participate. The two protagonists represent 'young India', one that's full of youngsters willing to traverse the length and breadth of the country to claim their "one big chance," he explains.
The films are laced with a thumping background score created by Clinton Cerejo. Produced by the Nirvana Films, the ads have been directed by Prakash Varma.
Besides TV, the media mix includes digital and print.
In a move to walk the talk as far as supporting young talent goes, Pepsi (in partnership with the BCCI) has announced a sum of Rs.10,00,000 as prize money for the winner of the Pepsi Emerging Player Award. Players under the age of 26, with five or less ODI matches and 25 or less IPL matches under their belt are eligible for this award. The selection process will be a combination of public and expert votes.
For the most part, our expert panel gives the campaign the thumbs up.
Lending a director's perspective, Razneesh Ghai, founder of Asylum Films, a production house, says, "I like the camera work - hand-held, in some places... there's a sense of urgency that comes through. Being from a feature film background, Shankar Raman (director of photography for this campaign) has managed to shoot some interesting compositions."
Razy, as he is popularly known, appreciates the 'crash zoom' shots. "They add a lot of energy to the spot," he says. For the record, these are shots in which the camera zooms into one part of the frame very rapidly, usually to add an element of drama to the scene.
"The film," he says, "has the raw energy of a fast-paced documentary. And Virat's acting skills must be applauded. The lyrics are interesting and the 'spoken words style' of delivery has added an extra edge."
Priti Nair, co-founder, Curry Nation, says, "It is an energetic campaign that has the quirky brashness that young kids like to see." About the way the two youngsters are shown getting onto the pitch during a match, she says, "Pepsi has always brought cricket down to ground level."
Nair would've loved to see different TVCs for Dhoni and Virat. "That would have been more entertaining," she says, adding (ever so empathically) that it was probably the agency's production deadlines that led them to take this "efficient" route of repeating so many scenes across the two films.
Meanwhile, Abhishek Dey, senior creative director, Enormous Brands, tells us that "though the commercial seems to have its heart in the right place," the concept of "regular Joes photobombing an international tournament" just doesn't work for him. By the way, OnlineSlangDictionary.com defines photobombing as 'the insertion of one's self, uninvited, into a photograph being taken.'
"It is interesting," Dey explains, referring to the overall idea, "but I wish it were captured with all the chutzpah that it needed. It evokes a sense of bravado and irony in an, at best, tepid manner. Finally, we have a commercial that looks like, well, a commercial. I personally miss the spunk and surprise of Pepsi's 'Change the Game' series."