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Pepsi: The game changer

Pepsi’s cricket World Cup campaign, which displays experiments and surprises on the field, is fun and highly watchable. It also embellishes Pepsi’s core value, which is about irreverence and breaking rules

Pepsi's campaign for the ICC World Cup, which has just broken, looks pretty promising; at least going by the first ad, which should serve as a taste of things to come.  

Readers will recall that a few Cups ago, Coke was the official sponsor for the World Cup, which prompted Pepsi to run that tongue-in-cheek but very effective campaign, 'Nothing official about it'. Well, this time Pepsi is the official global partner of the ICC World Cup 2011. The bad boy is now the class monitor. But instead of going all serious and official about it, they have tried to 'change the game', and this strategy makes the campaign fun and highly watchable.



Apparently, they have signed up a number of cricket stars for the campaign and the names include MS Dhoni, Virender Sehwag, Kevin Pietersen and Harbhajan Singh. Each ad will feature a peculiar technique perfected by each player… and how that quirky act has helped change the game of cricket.

While the full campaign will break in time, the Dhoni ad is now on air. And this one features the Indian captain's famed and unique 'helicopter shot'. The ad is about how and where (much like in the Bollywood film Lagaan), he picked up this strange stroke. The setting is the rural hinterland, and we discover that Dhoni learnt the helicopter shot on a hay-cutting machine. The action of which is quite similar to the cricket stroke. Later, of course, the scene shifts to the stadium where Dhoni is see blasting runs with his trademark helicopter shot.

Reportedly, the other ads will feature Kevin Pietersen's 'switch hit', Virender Sehwag's 'upper cut' and Harbhajan Singh's 'doosra'. Naturally, with a story provided in each.

I like this approach. Not just because it's entertaining, but because it keeps in step with the changing times. For the one-dayers and the 20/20 matches, the audiences basically come to have some quick fun, and have no time or patience for pure cricket. They look forward to experiments and surprises, so they will connect with this idea.

On another front, the campaign also embellishes Pepsi's core value, which is about irreverence and breaking rules. (Unlike Coke.) And 'change the game' falls nicely in line with that brand personality. So, despite being the official sponsor, Pepsi has managed to hold on to its attitude.Net net: Good insight; sound strategic thinking; unique creative renditions. All that good advertising must possess.

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