Shreyas Kulkarni

When Pepsi urges you to add any soft drink to your Swiggy food order

For every such order, Pepsi will ensure a meal to a restaurant worker in a bid to help the struggling sector.

The restaurant sector is reeling. Not only has the pandemic and the subsequent lockdown made it shut its doors, now, when the lockdown has lifted in many parts of India, people remain hesitant to visit these spaces while governments remain apprehensive about their reopening.

Anurag Katriar, president of NRAI and Executive Director of deGustibus Hospitality Pvt Ltd said, "... the restaurant sector is the second largest employer after agriculture." And for such a sector to remain shut doesn't bode well. Kartiar remarked that it could lead to 30% of the industry workforce losing their jobs which when translated in numbers is about 22 lakh.

The restaurant business and its workers are badly hit. Many of these workers are migrants from small towns and villages who depend on these jobs to send money back to their families.

Now, Pepsi's campaign is in partnership with Swiggy and the National Restaurant Association of India or the NRAI. Called #PepsiSaveOurRestaurants, you add any soft drink to your Swiggy food order and Pepsi will ensure one meal to a restaurant worker. It aims to provide approximately 2.5 million meals to the distressed restaurant community workers. Wunderman Thompson is the agency behind the ad.

Please note that it says you can add any soft drink to your food menu on Swiggy, not just Pepsi or any other brand from PepsiCo. "The intent was to get consumers involved in the process of helping the restaurant workers who have served them with much warmth for so long.

As from a brand perspective, the fact that contribution is applicable to any soft drink which is ordered, shows the commitment to the larger cause... " said a PepsiCo India spokesperson in an email and added, "When you want to help, the cause needs to take precedence over one’s business priorities given community service is all about winning with purpose."

Vani Gupta Dandia
Vani Gupta Dandia

According to Vani Gupta Dandia, founder, CherryPeachPlum Growth Partners, "Had it said only order Pepsi, it would be seen as a selfish or commercial-minded. But by saying order any soft drink, it's creating an emotional tug that works in its favour."

Dandia went a couple of years back to a campaign Pepsi started to raise consumption via 'meal accompaniment' and referenced the '#KyunSookheSookheHi (Samosa) campaign (it set the impression that Pepsi and food go hand in hand.)

She remarked that 'Meal accompaniment' was a powerful space to occupy and it opened a huge market for the brand – the chance to replace a nimbu paani or lassi that's consumed with khana.

"Now Pepsi is extending the same strategy but in a manner that's relevant today. In supporting the cause of restaurants, Pepsi evokes empathy. People will love the brand a little more, for what it is doing," said the founder.

It's also interesting to note that the present scenario has dented Pepsi's B2B revenue earned from sales to restaurants and hotels. As per the spokesperson, "The closure of hotels and restaurants has impacted the social get together occasions where beverage brands play a key role," but he then stuck a hopeful note that consumer demand in delivery/in-home occasions is showing good growth momentum... and that it's hopeful things will slowly and steadily return to normal for the entire industry.

The campaign's beginning

Anurag Katriar
Anurag Katriar

Katriar told us that Pepsi had reached out to him with a desire to do something. He said that for a while, nothing much had been done for the workers and they soon zeroed down on the ration story where we will give one month's ration for a family of five for three meals a day. He further revealed the campaign's nitty-gritty was fine-tuned in a week to 10 days.

Regarding Swiggy, he said that it came on board later because Pepsi needed to trigger consumption as this campaign wasn't "direct CSR like a donation" and with restaurants being shut right now, it made a lot of sense for Swiggy to join.

The road ahead

Creation or sustenance of job is directly proportional to the number of visitors... if there's no business there is no income and there will be job loss in the sector remarked Katriar.

He continued that for people to keep their jobs in the restaurant sector and for businesses to remain afloat, the immediate need is fiscal support and for consumption to happen.

And speaking of consumption, the NRAI chief told us about a striking piece of news where UK's Rishi Sunak, Chancellor of the Exchequer, said anybody who eats out between Monday to Wednesday at any restaurant, 50% of their bill will be paid by the government of UK - he's trying to trigger consumption.

Coming back to India, Katriar said that he can never imagine this happening in India where, "eating out is considered a luxury and drinking out is still considered a sin," and further remarked we'll have to find other ways to trigger consumption.

But, as PepsiCo India's spokesperson said, "In the meanwhile, the need of the hour is to help those that have been impacted by the tough times and we are committed to supporting as many members of the marginalized restaurant workers as possible."