Abid Hussain Barlaskar

“Often, one is seduced into changing the brand formula”: Naseeb Puri, PepsiCo

As Mountain Dew resurrects its original ‘Darr Ke Aage Jeet Hai' tagline which was last used in 2014.

Originally a brand tagline, the phrase 'Darr Ke Aage Jeet Hai' has become a part of popular discourse. PepsiCo's fizzy beverage brand Mountain Dew was built in India around these five words, which literally translate to 'There's successs beyond fear'. In 2015, Mountain Dew dropped this key piece of branding after eight years and replaced it with 'Risk Utha Naam Bana' or ‘risk to earn’. The brand has now rolled back to the original tagline. It can be seen in the latest Mountain Dew campaign featuring Bollywood star and endorser Hrithik Roshan alongside the original copy 'Darr Sabko Lagta Hai, Gala Sabka Sookhta Hai'.

Like the new ad, the copy of the original tagline was also crafted at Wunderman Thompson back in 2007, and was written by Anuja Chauhan, then a creative hand at the agency. However, apart from the brand's fizzy beverage nature, it has over years been positioned on the lines of energy drinks (ED) alongside brands like Monster and Red Bull. The core story has been about 'overcoming fear' and ‘confidence’.

Mountain Dew's external associations also reflect its ED-like nature. It can be seen at adventure sports and gaming venues. It is also among the leading brands in PepsiCo's portfolio (which also includes Pepsi, Mirinda and 7Up) and has a strong presence in North Indian markets. Statista pegs the value of the domestic soft drinks segment at $4,704 million (or Rs 35,000 crore), which Mountain Dew shares with the likes of Coca-Cola, Sprite, Limca, among others. The market is expected to grow annually by 7.9 per cent (CAGR 2020-2023) and the expected average per capita consumption stands at 4.1 litres in 2020.

In a chat with afaqs!, Naseeb Puri, director, Mountain Dew and Energy, PepsiCo India, says that over the last few years, the Dew marketing team realised that 'Darr Ke Aage Jeet Hai' continues to be the first preference for consumers. "What we heard back from consumers was that it had become part of their own vocabulary. We embraced it and decided to bring it back," she says.

Naseeb Puri
Naseeb Puri

The brand is targeted at the youth and has a stronghold in small towns and villages. "The strength really emanates from the core of India, small towns and deep rural markets in states like UP, Rajasthan, Haryana and Punjab," adds Puri.

On the brand's positioning as an ED, Puri shares an anecdote from one of her visits to a small town in Uttar Pradesh. She says, "We asked consumers about how they felt about the brand. On one occasion, a consumer said – Jab kuchh bada karne jaate hai aur jhijhak hoti hai, tab thoda Dew pee lete hai to chhati fuul jaati hai." This translates to – When I feel hesitant about doing something big, I drink Dew and feel confident.

Puri elaborates that while there isn't anything in the drink that could numb fear or senses, consumers tend to feel this way only because of the 'instigating' positioning of the brand.

Apart from regular advertising, the brand has also maintained its youth-oriented partnerships. For instance, its partnership with action sports such as stunt biking, BMX, skateboarding, bungee jumping, and so on. Over the last couple of years, the brand has also cosied up to e-sports and gaming by launching the Dew Arena, its own gaming tournament and championship. There are plans to invest more muscle into this initiative.

"Gaming, although at a nascent stage, is among the fastest-growing youth trends in India. We decided to not just partner, but also help create the trend," says Puri.

Now that its original tagline has been resurrected, there are no plans to tweak the brand in the near future. "We have a formula that works, and there's often the possibility of brand and agency teams getting seduced to change the formula," Puri says.

She explains that the secret lies in various facets like the tagline, the long-necked glass bottles (that resemble a pint bottle), the 'grip' PET bottles, and so on.

The conversation with the brand's agency is about staying true to these codes ... "and then it's about how to not get seduced into messing and trying out too many shiny new objects. We always seem to give in to these temptations," Puri elaborates.

Speaking on the media plan for the year (2020), she says that while it's anchored on TV, it would involve optimisations for deep rural markets. "We are building the broadcast-narrowcast model this year. Along with TV, we will also have micro-market plans for big states like Rajasthan and Haryana. A one-fit-for-all model doesn't work for such markets and mediums will include all – OOH, print, feature phone, social media, digital," Puri adds.

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