Shreyas Kulkarni

Pepsi Cola flows towards Gen Z in new campaign

Category lead Saumya Rathor explains the rationale behind the cola brand’s new philosophy.

Crack open a Pepsi bottle, and a sharp pop and then the fizz rising to the top, are all too familiar sounds. The carbonated cola beverage brand is using these sounds and visuals to encourage youngsters to rise up, do their thing, and not pay too much attention to what others want them to do.

“The cap is almost like a metaphorical judgement of society…,” says Saumya Rathor, category lead, Pepsi Cola, PepsiCo.

After seeing actor Salman Khan tout the brand’s fizz over the last few years, Pepsi’s new beverage focusses on the consumers. “While you think it (the initiative) is delinked from the product, for us, ‘Rise Up Baby’ is inherent to our product core,” Rathor remarks.

The campaign first released a music video, starring actor Ranveer Singh grooving to a remixed version of Yahan Ke Hum Sikandar’. Following it were two more spots, starring Yash and Samantha Prabhu.

Made by Leo Burnett, the campaign comes at a time when the Indian unit of PepsiCo, as per ‘The Economic Times’, has reported double-digit growth in the beverage unit volume.

The brand chose the three celebrities because they “resonated with our strategy,” says Rathor.

Singh, she says, is constantly judged for his clothing, but he just doesn’t care and does what he wants to.

Saumya Rathor
Saumya Rathor

Yash comes from a small town and with ‘KGF’, he’s had a meteoric rise. You don’t have to come from a particular place to do good work and shine, mentions Rathor.

Prabhu has battled challenging societal judgement with so much grace, power and effortlessness.

“I feel the universe we’ve created, is so in sync with that strategy, and I’m happy to see the way it has been brought to life,” Rathor states.

The cola brand will not have different faces for its ‘blue’ and ‘black’ offerings.

“We don’t discriminate between our celebrities,” says Rathor.

It’s important to note that at the end of all three ads, Pepsi’s ‘blue’ and ‘black’ offerings are visible.

The campaign, Rathor reveals, is “subtly targeted towards the Gen Z consumers” because the growth in India, is coming from the young diaspora. Rathor, however, reassures that the brand isn’t discriminating against other consumer cohorts.

The media strategy for the ‘Rise Up Baby’ campaign is all-encompassing.

“If a consumer is watching TV, he’s going to see Pepsi ads. If he’s watching the IPL, he’s going to see Pepsi ads. If he’s on digital, he will be finding the Pepsi campaign through Instagram or YouTube,” explains Rathor.

The three ads in the campaign, barring the one starring Prabhu, are less than 45 seconds in length. This is in contrast to the minute-long ‘Youngistaan’ ad, starring actors Shah Rukh Khan, Ranbir Kapoor and Deepika Padukone, nearly a decade ago, when the brand targeted the youth.

It must be challenging to get a story out in mere seconds.

Rathor responds, “I think it depends on the medium and the way you deploy the edits.”

Rathor prioritises strategy, consumer insight, human truth, and how it all can be brought to life, in a particular medium.

“If the narrative deserves three stories, we’ll do three stories and then edit them.”

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