Charulata Patel did not expect to take social media by storm when she fused into the crowd during the India-Bangladesh encounter at the ICC World Cup. Yet, the 87-year-old Patel’s spirited cheering for the Men In Blue transformed her into a rage, and she seems to be revelling in her new-found popularity. Dressed in traditional attire, with a bright-red bindi on her forehead, Patel blew her vuvuzela to glory. Her passion, with India’s Tricolour plastered on her flagging cheeks, instantly drew the focus of lensmen covering the Birmingham clash. The next thing we knew, PepsiCo had signed up the sprightly octogenarian for an ad campaign.
Patel, who began following cricket after she retired 20 years ago, is the star of Pepsi’s latest “Har Ghoont Mein Swag"—literally, a swagger in every gulp—commercial that’s currently on air for the final stages of the World Cup. The ad spot, which features the “swag" of a selection of fans, signs off with Patel declaring herself to be a “Swag Sadasya", or member, of the Pepsi cheering squad.
The commercial also marks a renewal of Pepsi’s legendary rivalry with Coca-Cola, whose campaign for the season features Ranbir Kapoor and Paresh Rawal. Pepsi’s shrewd “moment marketing", while not quite as punchy as its “ambush" ads of earlier times, appears to have caught viewer attention. It was inspired by an emotional encounter between Patel and Virat Kohli and his deputy Rohit Sharma. The 87-year-old Pepsi cheerleader promises to give the Bollywood superstars a run for their Coke.