Abid Hussain Barlaskar

"It's a cool, non-messy way of eating namkeens": Gaurav Verma, PepsiCo, on Kurkure variant

The new ad for Twistkeens is as much about the packet and packaging as it is about the product. We spoke to PepsiCo's marketing director - Indian snacks, about the product and package design.

Twistkeen, PepsiCo's latest snack offering from its Kurkure product line is a new product all the way from form to packaging. In the new products' ad films, the brand takes a witty jab at the spillable nature of traditional namkeen snacks like bhujiyas and introduces its new, easy-to-consume format. The brand has launched three variants - Bikaneri Bhujia, Andhra Murukku and the Shahi mixtures.

"It's a cool, non-messy way of eating namkeens": Gaurav Verma, PepsiCo, on Kurkure variant

Kurkure Twistkeen's latest ad film

Moreover, with these new variants, the brand has also refrained from going back to the original Kurkure sticks offering. Twistkeen is also offered in new 'stackable' packs, unlike the regular Kurkure packaging.

We asked PepsiCo, why and to what end?

Earlier this year, Kurkure revamped its packaging for 40 variants in an attempt to 'catch attention at cluttered points of sale'. The project was a collaboration between Pune-based design and strategy firm Elephant Design, PepsiCo India's marketing team and its New York-based global design team.

The PepsiCo team claims Twistkeen's design is inspired by Indian traditions - the Bikaneri Twistkeens product design has been inspired by Rangoli. R&D teams from India, the US and Mexico brought about this change.

"It's a cool, non-messy way of eating namkeens": Gaurav Verma, PepsiCo, on Kurkure variant

Kurkure Twistkeen's second ad film

Both ads are set in a living room and have been created by J. Walter Thompson (JWT) and Tube Light Films is the production company.

"It's a cool, non-messy way of eating namkeens": Gaurav Verma, PepsiCo, on Kurkure variant

Gaurav Verma

Gaurav Verma, director marketing, Indian Snacks - PepsiCo India, says, "Kurkure is an all-Indian brand. Launched in India, grown in India. It has always tried to introduce innovation in traditional Indian snacking. Twenty Five years ago, Kurkure sticks were a take on traditional snack consumption. All launches since have been on similar lines and Twistkeen is on the same ethos.

"The brand is going to take on traditional snacking and take it to a new modern format - bhujiya, ganthia or mathri. Namkeen, for us, has been the largest category, but we don't have significant play here. We wanted to innovate the category. The brief to the R&D team was to do something innovative and make 'traditional' more 'modern'. This was followed by testing concepts with consumers. The idea is - namkeen is messy and inconvenient and Twistkeen is a cool new way of eating this favourite flavour," Verma explains.

Why not use the flavours of the original Kurkure sticks?

"The original Kurkure has become a category now and is itself a fairly large share of the pie. Over the last 20 years, it has become a separate identity in the world of snacking, just like potato chips etc. Just slapping the namkeen flavour onto the original Kurkure sort of product would not have done what we wanted. We had to create a new format. We want people to buy the new format instead of what they typically buy," Verma responds.

"While designing the product, we asked ourselves who the target consumer was. Our set was the younger SEC-A sort of people who are interested in trying out new formats. Their shopping mostly happens in modern trade and e-com. While the packaging had to be a visually disruptive show-stopper, it also had to be shelf-friendly. The format is self-standing and stackable unlike our typical packaging meant for racks."

Verma also explains how the package can be served to guests as is i.e. the pack can be torn on one side and can replace a serving bowl.

Speaking about the selection of the three variants, Verma states, "For us, it is a new platform and we are looking at taking on a whole spectrum of namkeen. We launched with these three variants since they are the largest in the segment and they are the most preferred among consumers."

Expert speak:

"It's a cool, non-messy way of eating namkeens": Gaurav Verma, PepsiCo, on Kurkure variant

N Chandramouli

"It's a cool, non-messy way of eating namkeens": Gaurav Verma, PepsiCo, on Kurkure variant

Shouvik Roy

N Chandramouli, CEO, Trust Research Advisory, a brand intelligence and data insights company, says, "Kurkure has been known to bring out a twist and this aspect has been shown in the advertisement. The fact that they have a new product is wonderful; the packaged snacks category desperately needed some innovation."

He adds, "If attention-grabbing was the intent, the ad achieves it. But if product-grabbing from shelves is an objective, I feel taste should have been a key focus. Bikaneri's mouth-watering flavour and taste has been wasted by its absence from the ad."

Shouvik Roy, a brand consultant and senior partner at YAAP - a digital content company - says, "I was slightly confused; the brand has introduced a new product - Twistkeen, which is probably a namkeen with a twist. But this seems disconnected from the communication as the communication is basically trying to say that it does not spill."

He concludes, "Although the execution is fine with the characters and the way the ad has been moved around, the problem is that there are too many things the brand is trying to say at the same time. Firstly, it's a new product - a namkeen with a twist, a Twistkeen - and then they wish to convey that eating typical namkeen is messy, but eating Twistkeens is easier. However, not one issue is communicated clearly. It took me a while before I was able to get those points from the ad. Among the name, packaging and product, only the product stands out of the clutter. The communication should have concentrated on that."


Creative Agency: J. Walter Thompson (JWT)

• Managing Partner: Varun Channa

• Business Head: Jaibeer Ahmad

• National Planning Director: Mythili Chandrasekar

• Chief Creative Officer: Senthil Kumar

• VP & Executive Creative Director: Tirtha Ghosh & Nakul Sharma

• Creative Director (Art): Partha Sengupta

• Creative Supervisor (Copy): Priyadarshi Khastgir

• Film Department: Girish Singh

• Account Management: Binay Mehra & Kirti Sinha

Production House:

• Production House: Tube Light Films

• Director: Prashant Issar

• Producer: Aditi Pakala