New Delhi: Fido Dido, the tall, slim and curly haired cartoon man, the face of PepsiCo owned lemon drink 7UP when it debuted in India, is making a comeback through a summer campaign “Back to Cool". Rendered in black and white, the brand mascot with wiggly strands of hair, will be seen on 7Up bottles as the company plans to leverage the ’90s nostalgia.

The spiked hair character was created by Joanna Ferrone and her artist friend Sue Rose in 1985 in New Year and was later licensed to 7UP as brand mascot in 1987-88. Created as a clear lime-flavoured drink, 7UP entered India in 1990 and was promoted through the international mascot in its advertising in 1992. The objective was to position the brand as a cool drink for youngsters and also an alternative to cola drinks. With the “Keep it cool" tagline, Fido embodied coolness with his sneakers, loose tee and shorts look. Coupled with the laid-back attitude, he truly became a part of the 90s pop culture.

Noting that retro is the coolest consumer trend right now, Gaurav Verma, associate director, flavours marketing, PepsiCo India, said the company wanted to recreate the magic of Fido Dido character. 

“In India, the lasting memory of 7UP is the cartoon character ‘Fido Dido’ so we have focussed the India leg of the campaign on the character. Everybody who has grown up in the ’90s has a fond memory of the cool character," he said.

Globally, PepsiCo has also launched six vintage design bottles tracing the journey of the brand 7UP from the 50s to 2000s. In India, the focus is from the 1980s to 2000s. “Clearly the uncola" reads the bottle label inspired by the 1980s, the 1990s bottle sees “King of Cool" Fido Dido taking a break while lying in his hammock while the 2000s bottle says “Timeless Taste". 

“In the age of throwbacks and selfies, the 7UP Vintage bottles are the perfect representation of our shelf to media strategy and we are confident the new, limited edition packaging will truly make 7UP stand out on retail shelves," added Verma. 

Along with the design change with the limited edition bottles, the campaign also has a television ad, conceptualized by creative agency BBDO India, showing the evolution of the different designs. 

“These are collector’s items. Fido is the original daddy of cool. It’s so awesome that you want to own every one of these global vintage packs. Now everyone has a chance to go back in time with a bottle of 7UP," said Josy Paul, chairman and chief creative officer, BBDO India.

Over the years, 7UP advertising saw different avatars of Fido Dido. While in some ads, he dominated the screen time, in others he shared space with Bollywood actors like Mallika Sherawat. If fact, the brand’s “Qawaali" ad spot featuring actor Yana Gupta saw a desi avatar of Fido where he was shown for the first time in colourful attire. 

Apart from television ads, the cartoon character appeared in the brand’s outdoor and on-ground promotions. In 2007, Fido Dido games were also released. A brand licensing agreement with Delhi-based apparel company, Perfect Apparels saw Fido Dido merchandise launch in India. 

Under the current “Back to Cool" campaign, consumers will be able to win limited-edition design merchandise, including Bluetooth speakers, headphones, T-shirts, hoodies, notebooks, sippers and slap-bands inspired by the new packaging. The company has introduced promo packs on select bottles in Kerala, Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh, Telangana and West Bengal.

Navin Talreja, co-founder of advertising agency The Womb thinks that brands that tend to have a visual mascot especially an endearing one like Fido Dido help build saliency, and cut through. 

“Asian Paints enjoyed the benefits of Gattu for many years. Bringing back Fido Dido character is a smart move as consumers in today’s fast paced life are more open to going back in time and enjoying the nostalgia that it creates in minds," he said.

Shekhar Badve, founder director at design firm Lokusdesign believes Fido Dido was a rage and the coolest guy around. “It was hugely popular and everybody wanted to be as cool as Fido Dido. I think it is one of the best suiting brand mascots," he noted. 

According to Badve, brands will leverage design centered campaigns and strategies going forward as consumers are looking for global language and free world, yet something that they can hook on to. “Being ethnic or regional is passé. The generation Z is going to be agnostic to such regional phenomena. They will value everything that’s cool and what matters and adds ‘real value’. The Back to Cool campaign will definitely standout," he said. 

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