Shreyas Kulkarni

The BTS of Kurkure’s foray into the light-textured snacks category

The first ad from the new sub-brand Kurkure Playz is scary and funny. Leo Burnett and the brand explain why.

It’s easy to say, take it lightly, buddy, but incredibly hard to achieve. To help you practice what you preach is PepsiCo India’s salty snack brand Kurkure, with a new sub-brand.

Kurkure Playz marks Kurkure’s foray into the soft-textured snacks category. Kurkure has traditionally played in the extruded category with flavours like Masala Munch, Chilli Chataka, Green Chutney and the six-month-old Chatpata Cheese.

Kurkure Playz is building the mother brand's presence in the soft-textured snacks category's pellet space with the already existing puffcorn flavour and the new Pastax, which is a creamy, herb and onion flavour in a pasta-shaped bite.

“Pellet has picked up over the last few years and has been growing more than puffed,” says Neha Prasad, associate director and brand lead, Kurkure. She reminds everyone Kurkure had entered India with extruded products. “That is how the category was built… with the emergence of the light textured snack, we must play in this segment as well.”

The brand has launched an ad to promote Kurkure Playz and another one is on its way. Unlike previous Kurkure ads, which have walked the chaotic, witty and wink-wink tropes, this one chooses the horror-comedy genre.

Made by Leo Burnett, which won PepsiCo India’s creative mandate in 2022, the ad features a guy who, despite seeing a ghost in a room he’s about to move into, can keep his cool after taking a bite of puffcorn with his trembling hands.

What happens next? He’s able to calm the fear-riddled atmosphere and, instead, bargains a rent-sharing agreement with the spirit.

‘Halke Mein Lo’ is what the ad tells the viewers. 

“Today's generation doesn't take things too seriously and this is the truth we could own,” says Vikram (Spiky) Pandey, national creative director, Leo Burnett. He says the team decided to take this attitude and the aspect of the sub-brand being a light snack, forward.

‘Halke Mein Lo’ is colloquial and travels well, says Pandey. “It tends to remind people of your product or communication when they'd use it in normal conversation. That's where the line came from.”

Pandey says that if someone takes things lightly during something as bizarre as meeting a ghost in your room, then “it's a story worth watching and telling everyone else.”

The two products under Kurkure Playz are the most differentiated flavours in the category, remarks Prasad. “The concept was written, checked with consumers and needed to have differentiated propositions. That's how we came up with this idea.”

What’s interesting to note here is how the ads and communication plan were made. Pandey reveals they’d come up with dialogues that were different from the core DNA of the Kurkure brand. But, Prasad and her team while appreciating it would veer them back to terrafirma.

Kurkure launched Chatpata Cheese last year. The brand could have done the same with Pastax, rather than indulging in the tedious task of launching a new sub-brand.

The dynamic of this light-textured snack character is different, in terms of the cohort, positioning and competitive landscape, says Prasad. “It is important that we (Kurkure) build a portfolio and, so, we must hold it together under a sub-brand.”

When asked about the worries of cannibalising other Kurkure flavours and snacks from the PepsiCo family, Prasad agrees that a bit of it can happen but for her, the new soft texture snacks under Kurkure Playz stand to give “more business potential.”

Kurkure Playz will predominantly target a young cohort (read Gen Z). While Prasad knows this consumer group isn’t on TV, the medium she says “is still the most effective way of reaching out to the masses. So, it will be in the mix, along with digital, social and on-ground activations.”

The brand, which is available on leading offline and online channels, has already made an appearance on ‘The Kapil Sharma Show’ and ‘Indian Idol’.

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