Abid Hussain Barlaskar

"Campaign doesn't work if product is not available at POS": Vineet Sharma, PepsiCo

The new Slice spot isn't just another mango-Katrina Kaif ad.

"The thickest mango drink in India." That's Slice's new proposition this summer. The mango drink brand from PepsiCo just unveiled its latest ad campaign with the tagline ‘Naya Slice Itna Thick Kaise’, featuring Bollywood star and Slice brand ambassador Katrina Kaif. The campaign has been crafted by Wunderman Thompson.

There are a few things worth noticing about the campaign. While PepsiCo has kept the over-a-decade-old relationship with Kat intact, it has tweaked the overall nature of Slice's communication. The brand's ad this year includes a significant amount of fun elements alongside the staple heavily sensualised visuals – indulgence just got a shot of fun. PepsiCo says that the new proposition is substantiated by an independent research conducted by Nielsen.

The brand shares the Rs 6,500 crore mango drink market with players like Coca Cola's Maaza, Parle's Frooti and Paper Boat's Aamras. The market is reportedly growing at a CAGR of close to 15 per cent. Maaza commands the lion's share followed by Frooti and Slice which compete head to head. And, the mango drink market is almost twice the juice category in India. Given India's obsession with the fruit and 55 per cent of the global produce sourced in the country, brands in the space have historically highlighted the close resemblance of their products to real mangoes in ads. Slice called it 'Aam Sutra', Maaza offered 'Laalach for aam', Paperboat compared it with the traditional 'aamras' and Frooti had its iconic 'fresh'n'juicy' tag.

The 'thickness' proposition could be Slice's bet at standing out amid the clutter. A brand in another domain (albeit in the foods business) has also built itself around a similar proposition over the decades – Heinz ketchup. At the front of the better-bang-for-the-buck stakes, there might not be a better story than Fogg which won the deo market with its 'no-gas' proposition.

But why is it necessary for a mango beverage to be perceived as thick?

Vineet Sharma, director, Juices, PepsiCo India, tells us that the overall mango drink category is built around indulgence. "The more thick and pulpy it is, the better it is considered. We asked consumers through our research what they wanted and thickness came out as an important attribute, almost as a surrogate for taste and preference. We developed multiple products and went back asking which one they liked and finally concluded that this was something we had to offer," he says.

Vineet Sharma
Vineet Sharma

While the campaign looks like a claim of a superior product, it is more of an invitation to try the "new" Slice and boost market penetration. Alongside the campaign and a new product proposition, the brand is also upscaling the distribution of its Rs 10 tetra packs across the country from its current presence in the the eastern markets. Most of Slice's consumption happens on the go with a significant share taking place inside homes (close to 30-40 per cent).

Speaking of distribution, while there aren't a large number of players in the space, the offerings from competing players closely resemble each other in both taste and pricing. (1.2 litre pet bottles of Maaza, Slice and Frooti cost Rs 65.) In such a scenario, is loyalty even a thing? And will consumers hop shops in search for their brand of choice instead of going with the closest available alternative?

"While we have romanticised the experience of having a mango drink, we have delivered an equally valued product. The point of sale becomes very important. The entire campaign doesn't work if we're unable to drive availability at the point of sale. India being a value sensitive market, the price points of Rs 10 and 20 are core," Sharma says.

Speaking on the inclusion of a fun quotient in the new ad, he says, "With fun, the idea is to drive engagement. Because we want to ensure that people don't see it as yet another Slice communication and they get the 'thicker and tastier' message of the brand. As the codes of Slice's proposition remain the same, the way to bring it alive is to build engagement."

The new Slice will be available from March 2020 across retail outlets and the campaign is being run across TV, digital, outdoor and social media.

But will it give Slice an upper hand?

Industry Speak:

John Thangaraj, national planning director, FCB Ulka

Strategically, moving to a ‘thickest mango drink’ space seems sound. Mango has always stood for indulgence and dialling up product sensorials only reinforces that. That being said, ‘thickest mango drink’ is a proposition, not a consumer facing line. Given Slice’s historic Aam Sutra-led equity, I feel the brand could have cracked something far more evocative as a consumer promise. The codes of this film seem far more confectionery than beverage to me.

John Thangaraj
John Thangaraj

Will consumers ask for Slice? Perhaps. The film has a strong call to action and effectively builds drool value for the product. Will consumers move to a different store? Of course not. That isn’t the way the real world works. Especially since the competition is hardly lacking in taste delivery themselves.

Vishal Mittal, group creative director, Dentsu One

As a proposition, it's fine and pretty pointed. I think most of us would like our mango drink to be thick. But I am not too sure about the execution. It's not exciting enough for me. I think it should help the brand because the proposition is so basic and un-deniable.

Vishal Mittal
Vishal Mittal

It can make consumers ask for Slice, to an extent. Though personally I would go for a Paperboat, whose communication has always managed to strike an emotional chord. A consumer moving to a different store if the store doesn't sell Slice is highly highly improbable. I don't think anybody takes a mango drink so seriously.

Campaign credits:


Sumati Singh, executive creative director and VP

Reshna Bannerjee, creative director

Account Management:

Anish Thakur, client services director

Senthil Kumar, chief creative officer, Wunderman Thompson, India

Vivek Das, WPP Lead - Team PepsiCo Beverages, India

Have news to share? Write to us atnewsteam@afaqs.com