Oh Yes Abhi… or Never!!

The trend setters are alive again and they are ready to set jitters through the spines of the modern Indian consumers. The recent ad campaign of Pepsi can be justified by its connection with the latest version of the Indian Premier League but the underlying theme surrounding the promotion is nothing new. Pepsi has always regarded itself as a brand representing Indian Youth and most of the ads have that subtle essence of restlessness, flashy decors and catchy taglines.

Starting from their first Yehi hai Right Choice Baby campaign, we have observed how the brand has positioned itself by linking with the most happening trends around the country and for that purpose connecting with Bollywood and Cricket was a compulsion. Pepsi never tried to promote any social changes or dug deep into the subjective alterations in the contemporary urban societies but rather they always had focused on two most important parameters; they chose the right celebrities and wrote the perfect taglines!

If we flip through the pages of the Pepsi Ad Campaign album we will get to know, who the most popular Indian celebrities were in the last decade or so. The Yeh Dil Mange More and Yeh Pyaas Hai Badi campaigns mostly highlighted the likes of Sachin Tendulkar, Sourav Ganguly and Bollywood superstar Sharukh Khan. But those days are long gone and though Sachin Tendulkar is yet to retire from International Cricket it is unlikely that he will now feature in some trendy Pepsi ad campaign. In fact one of the recent ads of the brand, associated with the tagline Yeh Hai Youngistan Meri Jaan showed how the new face of Bollywood, Ranbir Kapoor, tricked the veteran Sharukh Khan in order to take out his daughter for a date. Apparently this ad shows a picture of how a street-smart young boyfriend made a fool out of an over-possessive father but it surely implies much more than that!

Pepsi has always positioned itself as a brand which dictates the trend. They are the one who wants to decide which trend is “in” and which are “out”. More precisely they always want to be the hottest topic of discussions in the college canteens and their success can be determined through the popularity of their taglines amongst the young consumers. In this way Pepsi has evolved only not as a brand but eventually have become a part of the modern Indian vocabulary and the culture which young India reflects. One must appreciate their keen sense of observation and understanding of the changing mindset of the young college goers. By tracking down the popularity of the Barclay’s English Premier League, the club-football competition in England, among the young TV viewers, Pepsi was quick to invite football stars in the likes of Fernando Torres, Drogba and Frank Lampard in their Indian ad scenario and merged their appeal with the more known faces like Dhoni, Kohli and Raina. In this way Pepsi perhaps tried to play a role by bridging the virtual gap between cricket and football followers thereby satisfying both sets of Indian consumers and making the presence of the brand felt in both the markets.

If we analyze the trend of Pepsi ad campaigns and the consequent taglines there are few things which are very common. Firstly it is the newer breed of consumers who always appear to be taking over the older ones. Secondly the newer generation always is more playful, tricky and clever which makes them more appealing and perhaps the more deserving candidate for grabbing a bottle of Pepsi at the end of the ads. As the brand has set its agenda straight, it is rather the challenge for the celebrities to keep up to the changing pace. As Dhoni has taken over Ganguly in the battle of the cricketing icons, Ranbir Kapoor and Priyanka Chopra have replaced Shahrukh Khan and Kareena Kapoor… But this change is also temporary as we have seen how in one of the most recent ads the brand has highlighted the youngster Under-19 cricketer Unmukt Chand. This journey taken by the brand, from Sachin to Unmukt Chand, from Amir Khan to Ranbir Kapoor indeed tells us a story; the story of changing India and how the mass perception has evolved through the years. The brand has essentially transformed itself into more of a Coolness determinant and this strategy is yet to fail. Adolescence is a very tricky time and in order to grab the desired attention the young consumers are readily associating themselves with this trendy brand. It is not that they are only drinking Pepsi from the ever appealing Pepsi cans (named “My Can”) but they are also literally walking Pepsi and talking Pepsi, by imitating the images shown in the ads! The ad campaigns and social changes have become complimentary to each other and these campaigns have very successfully represented the core target consumers.

It seems like Pepsi as a brand has got hold of the livewire which passes the latest campus buzz or perhaps Pepsi has located the Fountain of Youth, drinking from which it will never get Old!!!

However while Pepsi is busy playing the role of a Trend Setter and becoming a youth icon for the Indian consumers, their closest rival Coca Cola has identified another budding market segment. By not going for the obvious target consumer trends and perhaps avoiding the over-focused and over-pampered college goers, Coca Cola has shifted its focus on the young-adults of India who are presumably detached from their families for work or education. The ad film created by McCann Worldgroup portrays the importance of bonding between the family members how the brand actually plays a central role in any Indian family dinner. The focus is here on the importance of dining together as a family and how Coke helps in connecting the generations. The ad is launched with an assumption that the career driven young-adults hardly get time for their respective families and this ongoing process is loosening the family ties. This social change is actually countering the global image of the traditional Indians, who are mostly represented by their big and loud families associated with over-expressive adoration and affection thereby signifying the bonds which the parents and the grandparents share with their kids . Keeping that image in mind, Coca Cola is trying to connect the dynamic youth with the core Indian values thereby presenting itself as a brand which is injecting sensibility and responsibility into the young adults and perhaps encouraging them to keep connected to their families.

 

One of the latest campaign taglines of Coca Cola, Haan Main Crazy Hoon, though primarily focuses on the fun-loving youth but it delivers a critical message, an appeal for change of the ignorant behavior with which the kids of the rich parents are often characterized with. Coca Cola is appealing the generation to spread happiness among strangers and mostly to the underprivileged like in the case of a security guard of a café or a waiter of a restaurant. This subtle approach of showing a hint of sensitivity among the young Indians is perhaps purposely done to mock the kind of irresponsibility often reflected in the Pepsi ads.

On one hand as Pepsi is showcasing stories about the young icons taking over the older ones mostly stunning them by tangy phrases or deceiving them physically in order to snatch their bottle of Pepsi, Coca Cola is busy promoting the idea of spreading happiness by distributing bottles of Coke to thirsty strangers. Now as the fight between the brands will continue, their respective advertising campaigns actually tell a lot about the changing culture of Indian consumers. The strategic positioning accompanied by the well placed ads actually gives a complete picture of how young India has changed over the years and provides the idea of their altering habits and the symbolic representations which helps us to identify our urban culture. Advertising of such nature cannot only be regarded as mere art, but rather it provides a live commentary of the changing social behavior of young Indians with particular attention towards what is happening Now or Abhi.-because if it is not capturing the real changes of modern India, it cannot be considered as an advertisement anymore!!

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