New Delhi: Summer is upon us and so is “thirst-quenching" advertising from cola brands. Pepsi, the beverage brand from PepsiCo India stable, has launched a high-decibel summer campaign featuring lead actors of popular Hindi film  Fukrey. The advertisement, capturing the camaraderie between the popular film characters, Hunny, Lalli and Choocha, highlights that snacks are best enjoyed with a chilled glass of Pepsi. The commercial released on 11 March on the streaming platform YouTube has garnered over 14 million views. 

Made by advertising agency J. Walter Thompson (JWT) India, the campaign titled ’Kyun sookhe sookhe hi?’ features Pulkit Samrat (Hunny) and Manjot Singh (Lalli) bidding farewell to Varun Sharma (Choocha) at a crowded railway station. The goodbye is interrupted by Choocha’s wish to indulge in samosas, which leads to a frenetic chase. Pulkit Sharma (Hunny) dodges myriad obstacles before he successfully boards the train to ensure his best friend enjoys the samosas with a chilled bottle of Pepsi. The objective is to highlight the inherent association of the cola beverage with Indian street food.

“Our research shows that there is high demand for Pepsi when friends get together for small occasions to enjoy snacks. The common question often asked is ‘Kyun sookhe sookhe hi? hinting at the need of a beverage and hence Pepsi becomes a core product of this consumption occasion. Apart from the TVC, we continue to play around the packaging where we have used origami art to bring alive Pepsi packaging which will feature food items on the Pepsi bottle. We have chosen 35 food items popular among youth across regions from samosas, pakoras to momos," said Raj Rishi Singh, director - marketing, Pepsi, PepsiCo India.

Pepsi has created “Foodicon” bottles, which will feature images of various street foods.
Pepsi has created “Foodicon” bottles, which will feature images of various street foods.

Pepsi has created “Foodicon" bottles, which will feature images of various street foods. The distinct visuals have been interpreted in origami art and crafted by Spain-based artist Raya Sader Bujana as well as design firm Cocktail Art. Apart from mass media (television) and digital (partnership with online food ordering platforms), the brand will also execute on-ground activations at youth hangouts (campus canteens and shopping malls). Pepsi has also partnered with quick service restaurant chains, including KFC, Pizza Hut and Subway.

“Brand Pepsi has always created popular culture and echoed the current youth trends and aims to connect with BFFs everywhere. This summer, Pepsi takes a friendly dig at friendship. You can ask your friends for anything and they will go to unreasonable lengths to get it for you. Don’t you feel grateful? Of course not. The real, raw friendship of the Fukrey gang gave us an amazing casting opportunity. The chemistry between these bright, young, goofy characters fit the script like it was written for them," said Senthil Kumar, chief creative officer, J Walter Thompson India.

Pepsi India has been relying heavily on its packaging led campaign since 2016 when it launched Pepsi Moji campaign featuring multiple emojis on the product packaging. Last year, Pepsi went hyperlocal in its packaging using colloquial pop culture words in eight regional languages in its Moments campaign .

Also Read: Brands create localised packaging to woo young consumers

Ayan Banik, head of brand strategy at advertising agency Cheil India, said while the new campaign is supported by the fantastic camaraderie between the lead actors, the ad does little for the consumer and creates only plain vanilla brand awareness. “Pairing a cola with snacks to increase the consumption occasion beyond plain thirst is not new in the category. For many years, Coca Cola has been building this premise of food pairing with colas," he noted. 

Banik also feels that of late Pepsi has been saying too many things all too soon. According to him, the recent brand campaigns lack a single big thought which ends up giving a confused imagery to what it is trying to convey. “From ‘Pepsi thi pi gaya’ (loosely translated as ‘It was Pepsi, so I drank it) to vernacular language usage (which is there in this commercial as well) to emojis on packs. While this approach might create momentary audio-visual freshness but unfortunately, strategically they don’t come across as fresh thoughts. I feel the brand’s struggle, both at a strategic and communication level, to say something refreshingly new is becoming way too evident," he added.

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