Shreyas Kulkarni

Teasing its supposed ad like an upcoming flick and helping couples make love all night long, PepsiCo’s Sting is going places

And while at it, the energy drink takes a dig at rival Charged by Thums Up in a recent ad.

Sting, the humble seven-year-old carbonated energy drink from PepsiCo India, has, like all things of that age, started exploring the world and trying new things.

How else does one explain the energy drink finding itself on posters reserved for movies on the wall of a cinema multiplex and standees inside a PVR theatre?

What is more noteworthy is the copy on these posters. It speaks of ‘Dart’, supposedly India’s quickest thriller film, with two minutes and 15-second runtime.

Ankit Singh, Leo Burnett’s EVP of strategy and planning head, north, shared the two photographs on LinkedIn. The Publicis-owned advertising agency started servicing Sting after it nabbed the PepsiCo India creative account in 2022.

PepsiCo India's Sting promotion
PepsiCo India's Sting promotion
Ankit Singh/Leo Burnett/LinkedIn

There is a good chance these promotions are not for any movie – regardless of size – but for Sting’s upcoming commercial – a trailer for an ad.

Sting's poster inside PVR cinema hall
Sting's poster inside PVR cinema hall
Ankit Singh/Leo Burnett/LinkedIn

Energy drinks are often seen pumping up people before they cycle down a cliff, jump from an aeroplane, or become the poison of choice for those pulling all-nighters. That’s how the category often promotes itself until the recent past.

But, such a marketing tactic usually reserved for the movies may sound absurd, but brands disagree.

Kartik Smetacek, chief creative officer, L&K Saatchi & Saatchi, told us (afaqs!) in a previous story (read above) that we live in a time when an ad’s success is measured not so much in the sales it generates but the buzz it creates.

“Teasers and trailers serve as the drumroll that gets the buzz started. They also help cut through the clutter so the ad registers better when it launches.”

Brands such as Hyundai and Oppo have indulged in this marketing gimmick and released trailers before their ads. They released video teasers, unlike Sting which, as of today, has released print promotions.

Market research firm IMARC Group says India’s energy drinks market size is projected to exhibit a growth rate (CAGR) of 9% during 2024-2032.

Sting in this market competes against Charged by Thums Up, Red Bull, Monster Energy, Budweiser Beats, Hell Energy, and Raze, among others.  

Six months ago, PepsiCo India launched a second flavour after the raspberry-flavoured Sting – Blue Current, and the company says it is available for a limited period.

Actor Akshay Kumar was Sting’s most famous endorser until the PepsiCo India-owned energy drink decided to turn the brand’s positioning on its head with its latest ad (the video above).

52 seconds long, an uptight and traditionalist uncle (actor Gajraj Rao) cannot sleep in his hotel room because a young couple in the next room is making love, rather loudly.

He comes to their door to accost them, only to see a bottle of Sting outside their room. The poor guy understands the meaning of it – the two will be in the throes of passion all night long.

Positioning an energy drink as the liquid that’ll keep the couple going all night is clever positioning.

And if that’s not enough, Sting, in another recent ad, takes on direct rival Charged by Thums Up (Coca-Cola) when a consumer rejects a red-colour energy drinks bottle – a dig at counterfeit makers or the direct rival – and makes the store owner offer him only Sting, nothing else.

This ad was seen during the ongoing Indian Premier League on JioCinema, the T-20 league’s digital streamer.

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