Ubaid Zargar

Pepsi puts AI in ‘Thandai’ in its Holi ad

The new spot sees a Pepsi employee bring his ‘Thandai’ idea to the company CEO, only to have him stall it.

Holi just breezed past us, and brands had their colours ready. But Pepsi, beyond its red, white and blue colours, also has a ‘thandai’ to serve, with an AI twist. 

The Soft drink brand’s new Holi-themed ad is all for putting AI in Thandai, Bujiaai, and Mithai. Do you get the word play here? All these words end with the letters ‘AI’. and if you added a single dot ahead of the letters ‘a’ and ‘i’, each of these words would sound eerily similar to popular AI domains.

‘Thand.ai’, ‘Bujia.ai’, ‘Mith.ai’, so on and so forth. A cheeky dig at the apparent AI 'takeover' the marketing world seems to be going through. This is the underlying premise of Pepsi’s new commercial, which has accumulated some praise online.

Communications strategy consultant Karthik Srinivasan took to LinkedIn to share his review of the ad. "A terrific mix of a topical day, a topical theme, and a brand," he said, commending the 'tongue in cheek' humour of the film.

Other users on LinkedIn chimed in to express their views on the ad under Srinivasan's post. "Glad to see the slogan back", said one user. Another user wrote 'Brilliant dig at the .ai fad.'

The protagonist of the film, who is an employee of the company, lands upon a business idea when he looks up Thandai on the internet. Accidentally placing a dot ahead of letters ‘a’ and ‘i’, he instantly imagines all the possible products he could come up with AI. This, in his train of thoughts, could potentially disrupt the market and even circumvent the cricketing fever that has gripped the nation at the moment. 

It isn’t long before he takes his million-dollar idea to the CEO. He walks in and pitches what he has in mind, only to have the boss say those six magic words- Let me get back to you. 

He doesn’t let his idea be crushed under the corporate hierarchy, as he sits and assesses all the potential ways he can let AI create products until he finally suggests that Pepsi should rename itself as ‘Peps.ai’. This is where his bag is thrown at him and he’s shown the exit door. 

The ad film also carries the tagline Yeh Dil Maange More, Pepsi’s iconic slogan from the late 90s, coined by JWT. The slogan was actually revived by the brand a few weeks ago when it unveiled a new global branding. 

As part of Yeh Dil Maange More series, the brand has also launched other ads ahead of IPL. One of the ads is a straight-up high-octane ad film bringing in all the Holi colours. Other ads feature celebrities such as Bollywood actor Ranveer Singh, Telugu actor Yash, and popular comedian Zakir Khan.

Watch the ads below:

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