With the pesticide controversy refusing to die down, PepsiCo India has decided to silence its critics with the help of endorsement from sources that are more credible than film stars. The FMCG giant will be roping in scientists to endorse its products for a mass media campaign.
This is a change in stance from the strategies adopted by other entities in India, when mired in controversies. For instance, Cadbury's had roped in Amitabh Bachchan to endorse the product during the controversy related to worms infestation. Similarly, the National Egg Coordination Committee had roped in Sanjay Dutt to promote chicken consumption in India during the outbreak of bird flu.
"This is a serious situation where we do not think it is right to use film stars to promote our brand. We will be using the services of well-known scientists to add credibility to our statements pertaining to the safety of the product," Rajeev Bakshi, chairman of PepsiCo India Holdings, said in Hyderabad.
The company plans to launch a full-fledged campaign shortly. Bakshi, however, declined to divulge further details on the budget or the strategy, claiming it was still in the conception stage.
However, once the controversy dies down, PepsiCo will fall back on cine stars to promote its products. "Pepsi is a fun brand. We therefore need to associate it with film stars," Bakshi said.
Some of the stars that have been associated with the brand include Amitach Bachchan, Shah Rukh Khan, Kareena Kapoor and Priyanka Chopra.
With regard to the effect that the controversy has had on the business of PepsiCo, Bakshi said that the sales in the last 10 days have been "little soft" and that it would hurt their image if the controversy runs for a long period.