Home >Industry >Advertising >87-yr-old social media star to debut on TV as India faces New Zealand

As India faces the Kiwis at the ICC Cricket World Cup semi-finals on 9 July, 87-year-old Charulata Patel, who rose to fame after she was seen cheering for team India playing against Bangladesh last week, will be seen across television screens once again, but this time in her maiden television campaign for beverage brand Pepsi.

After signing Patel as its new face for its “Har Ghoont Mein Swag" campaign last week, the beverage maker will break a television and digital commercial featuring Patel, among other cricket fans, as India plays New Zealand at Manchester’s Old Trafford cricket ground. The campaign, an extension of its earlier Swag promotion, which was released in February, and saw the brand associate with Bollywood actors Disha Patani and Tiger Shroff, will be accompanied by a Tik-Tok activation, along with digital and television clips featuring Patel.

This will make it brand Pepsi’s first cricket-related campaign (in India) during the ICC World Cup, which counts rival Coca-Cola among its global partners for a period of five years.

The beverage maker is known to have bought advertising spots across key news channels and on video-sharing website YouTube. The campaign will also be accompanied by a Fan-Anthem, which will be played both across digital platforms as well as TV channels, the company said. Advertising agency Wunderman Thompson has worked on the campaign.

“We are honoured to bring the story of the unassailable Swag of Charulata Patel, an 87-year-old cricket fan. The response from Indian cricket fans has been truly heart-warming. Pepsi’s Har Ghoont Mein Swag campaign reflects the same self-belief of India today. Living in the moment, seizing new, interesting opportunities and doing it all with SWAG is an attitude that defies any age," said a PepsiCo India spokesperson.

Patel was born in Tanzania and raised by Indian origin parents. She has been watching India’s favourite sport since she retired 20 years ago. Her own children used to play county cricket for Surrey.

Last week, images of Patel, her face painted in the tri-colour, as she cheered the boys in blue became symbolic of India’s passion for the sport.

She was later greeted by Indian cricket team captain Virat Kohli who offered her tickets to all matches featuring India. On 6 July, as India beat Sri Lanka, Patel was present in the stadium.

Beverage maker PepsiCo was quick to utilize Patel’s popularity by signing her up for its campaign. Last week, PepsiCo India shared an image of Patel on its Instagram handle introducing her as “Pepsi’s latest swag star". Since then, Patel, has featured in short clips, and images on the social media platform.

The association, said Chirag Chandiramani, associate media director, Dentsu Webchutney, is a “solid play on moment marketing". Pepsi, he added, has been able to quickly leverage her “virality". The moment was fairly emotional with India winning the match and Kohli greeting her. So, using her as the face of a campaign gives an emotional twist to the brand, he said.

Pepsi’s association with Patel is also a throwback to the 1996 World Cup tournament when the cola giant bombarded television screens with its widely popular “Nothing Official About It" campaign in the era of peak cola-wars, when rival Coca-Cola was the official sponsor. 2019, is no different, as Coca-Cola’s campaign featuring Bollywood actor Ranbir Kapoor, has been airing. “This is version 2.0 of the ‘Nothing Official About It’ ad," said Harish Bijoor, a Bengaluru-based marketing expert. Clearly, the Cola wars are alive, even though the category is struggling, he added.

However, PepsiCo might lose out on key spots on Star India that has a chock-a-block inventory during key matches. Webchutney’s Chandiramani said a strong presence on digital media, especially Facebook and YouTube, should help brand Pepsi.

Patel is expected to be present during the India-New Zealand match as well.

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