Shreyas Kulkarni

Kurkure keeps its new spice flavours a secret; tweak in brand strategy?

Kurkure has chosen a brand new strategy by refusing to reveal the main spice ingredients in its two new flavours. Will this move work in the brand's favour?

PepsiCo India has roped in Bollywood actor Akshay Kumar as brand ambassador for its salty snack brand Kurkure. Launched in 1999, the corn puff eatable has grown to become a household name and is one of the company's eight brands that generate over Rs 1,000 crore approximately in annual retail sales (PepsiCo press release on April 24, 2019).

But the actor's appointment as brand ambassador surprised many because the brand has historically used a female face to market itself. Actors like Juhi Chawla, Parineeti Chopra, Taapsee Pannu, Farida Jalal, and Kareena Kapoor have featured in Kurkure ads.

Kumar's golden run at the box office and his sustained stardom may have prompted PepsiCo India to choose him as Kurkure's brand ambassador. The brand, on the other hand, is facing tough competition from the likes of Bingo! from ITC, Haldiram's, and Too Yumm!, in its segment.

According to a story published in the Economic Times on May 7, 2019, Kurkure saw its value share drop from 31 per cent in FY18 to 28 per cent in FY19 and its volume share dip from 30 per cent in FY18 to 27 per cent in FY19. However, a PepsiCo spokesperson told the financial daily in an email response that while it didn't subscribe to Nielsen data (basis which the numbers were published) for the past 18 months, both Lay's and Kurkure remain leaders in the snacks category and that the Nielsen data has been under-reported.

Thus, the brand may have wanted to cash in on the actor's popularity base and strengthen its market share and perhaps capture an audience segment which it may not have reached out to in recent years.

Kurkure dropped its first TVC with the actor on February 17, 2020. In it, we see a girl walk into a spices store and ask the resident masala expert/shopkeeper (Kumar) to guess the spice ingredient of Kurkure's two new flavours - Herapheri Hungama and Gazab Golmaal; an obvious nod to the actor's hit movie franchise 'Hera Pheri'. On taking a bite, Kumar is only able to tell that it's chatpata, tangy, and spicy but isn't able to guess its secret spices.

Kurkure keeps its new spice flavours a secret; tweak in brand strategy?

He then tells the girl that his father won't be able to tell the secret spices of the new Kurkure flavours either. Cue in the father (Kumar, again) who's unable to tell the secret spices. The father then claims that even his father would fail to guess the spices. And yes, it's the grandfather (Kumar, yet again) who appears and the same story is repeated.

Created by Wunderman Thompson, the TVC doesn't reveal the secret spice ingredient of the new flavours, which is surprising because most snack brands do that. They bank on their flavours to market and sell their product. That's the reason we see most snack ads featuring tomatoes swirling in water or red chilly masala being sprinkled on the snacks or cheese being grated; it is to entice audiences to buy the product.

Senthil Kumar
Senthil Kumar

Commenting on the campaign and the mystery behind the secret spice ingredients, Senthil Kumar, chief creative officer, Wunderman Thompson told afaqs!, "In the current campaign, we’re very much talking about the sensorial appeal of the new Kurkure flavours. But what we’re also saying in a quirky way is that the new flavours are so out of this world, that no one can put a finger on the exact mix of masalas but maybe you can try and find out what the masala mix is at a store near you? It’s a quirky trial challenge to everyone. Can you guess what these amazing masalas are?"

On the insight behind #kyamasalehain communication they chose to go with, he says, "The insight was simple – good things can be explained. Great things can only be experienced and are often very hard to explain."

While the agency may have decided to go with the insight of 'Good things can...', afaqs! inquired about the brief the brand gave them. In response, Kumar says, "The brief was to generate trials for the new Kurkure limited-time variants. With the brief, we also got plenty of packs to try. The creative team led by Harsh and Pallav delivered the masaledaar film idea in a trail blazing media mix."

When quizzed about the wisdom of roping in Akshay Kumar to help Kurkure connect to or capture an unexplored audience group, he replies, "Akshay undoubtedly has an enormous following. But more importantly, he is the perfect fit for the brand. He is full of masala, multi-faceted and a family entertainer. So is Kurkure."

According to the brand's press release, the two new flavours - Gazab Golmaal and Herapheri Hungama are available for Rs 5 and Rs 10 at traditional retail outlets and e-commerce stores, but for a limited period.