Can Salman’s ‘Swag Se Solo’ add more fizz to Pepsi’s biz?

We asked industry experts to evaluate the new Pepsi brand anthem

e4m by exchange4media Staff
Updated: Feb 11, 2020 7:02 PM

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Swag Se Solo

Pepsi is back with another groovy anthem with brand ambassador Salman Khan making the nation swing to ‘Swag Se Solo’.

With the new campaign anthem that was rolled out on Monday, Pepsi has picked on the advertising tactic of conceptualising brand anthems. The mandate for this campaign has been awarded to JWT.

The brand recently created a lot of buzz on TikTok with the ‘Har Ghoont Mein Swag’ challenge, featuring Tiger Shroff, Disha Patani and Badshah. 

The brand’s strategy for the ‘Har Ghoont Mein Swag’ campaign was to go for user-generated content and this led to the campaign garnering 3 billion views with consumers coming up with their own take on the challenge. 

Prior to Pepsi, Salman was the face of Thumps Up for three years. The Bollywood superstar has also endorsed brands like Campa Cola and Parle Agro’s Appy Fizz for the campaign #FeelTheFizz.

We spoke to industry experts to understand how big an impact would the new anthem create.

According to Brand Strategist Harish Bijoor, “When you advertise a Cola, a little bit of Cola sticks to you and your persona. To an extent, the first Cola that had you as an endorser gets the best of equity of it all. To an extent, Salman Khan is the sum of all the Colas and drinks he has advertised in the past. There sure is a dilution.”

Talking about the various Cola associations, Samit Sinha, Managing Partner, Alchemist Brand Consulting says, “Way back in 1985/86 there used to be a soft-drink brand called Sprint launched by the UB group. This was before Coca Cola and Pepsi. 34 years ago too Salman Khan was associated with this soft drink brand too.”

“The brand took this decision to penetrate the market and go into the belly of the country. They must have been looking at endorsers who appeal to that segment. That’s how they must have decided on Salman’s because he has delivered many box office hits for the semi-urban audiences,” Sinha added.

“This category of soft drinks is a low impulse involvement category. It is highly driven by advertising and therefore being top of mind at all times is very important. The association of any particular celebrity in this category is weak so that association doesn’t last very long. With the consumers, they would not even remember the ads he appeared on earlier. In any case, there is very little differentiation in the category to most people. Whichever is the most top of mind brand tends to be the one that most people ask for. The brand should be currently visible and making noise. Once that dies down the top of mind awareness also comes down,” he further said.

However, Prathap Suthan, Managing Partner, CCO, Bang In The Middle, fails to find the magic in this new Pepsi anthem. “Salman is a great star. Pepsi is a great brand. But this is something else. I don’t get the beverage feel of the brand. I don’t get the macho feel of the star. Both the brand and the celeb have done great work individually, but this quite doesn’t come together. I cannot see it working for younger audiences. Versus Coca-Cola. And all the other cooler brands out there. Swag is certainly not a sub-12 expression. It’s definitely more adult than that. The first feeling I got was that Pepsi has launched a deodorant. What with the overdose of women in the ad. There is certainly an evident dilution of Pepsi’s global genes, pride and new generation. Honestly, this looks like the agency and the client lost their grip on the audience. Unless they are only aiming it at Salman’s north-skewed fan base. Which again doesn’t make much sense.”

Jagdeep Kapoor, Founder Chairman, and Managing Director, Samsika Marketing Consultancy is of the opinion that each brand tries to build a Brand Personality. “The ingredients include the script, the positioning, the role played by the celebrity and the complete tangible and intangible package. In this case, using the brand’s (logo) and brand personality symbol (bracelet) and the unique style of dancing, keep it different from earlier ads in the category. Just as in films, the same actor plays different roles, in different eras, the same brand ambassador may be accepted by consumers if the treatment and situation are different. This song and dance are refreshing, even though the person is familiar, the brand personality is unique. Elements like swag, the dance and the bracelet and the sign of the hand, differentiate it while maintaining the entertainment, memorability value,” concluded Kapoor.

According to N Chandramouli, CEO, TRA Research: "Salman's connection with Taste the Thunder had been long standing and iconic, something that made the product relateable to audiences. His endorsement of Pepsi is not likely to yield results for the brand immediately, and may in fact work for Thums Up more than Pepsi. Today, cola brands face an existentialist challenge as they struggle to stay relevant among the youth. This effervescent lot is extremely aware, independent with choices difficult to decipher. Often brands don't understand the reasons for their own Buying Propensity, or why their consumer is keen to buy them. In such a flux, brands can make kafkaesque choices of celebrity icons or their ad campaigns, often bordering on the absurd. One such example is the use of the 53-year-old actor, trying to woo millennials with a swag." 

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