Pepsi to boost football’s growth in cricket-crazy India

After years of partnership with cricket – the most popular game of the country – Pepsi has now decided to 'change the game' and become a partner to the growth of football in India

e4m by Deepika Bhardwaj
Updated: Apr 4, 2012 9:54 AM
Pepsi to boost football’s growth in cricket-crazy India

What happens when the world’s leading food and beverage company starts taking interest in a sport other then cricket in India? What happens when bollywood’s most charming face, Ranbir Kapoor, is shown changing the game from cricket to football? Chances are that the fortune of that sport turns around and it begins a new journey of love, adulation, success and fan-following in a country where people swear by cricket!

The whole nation took notice when few days ago, a new TVC created by JWT for Pepsi showcasing Ranbir Kapoor ‘changing the game’ literally for the brand from cricket to football, came on air. Pepsi is now hoping to partner with the sport for its growth in this country with ‘Pepsi T20 Football’.

The brand wants to popularise football in a uniquely Pepsi way and stay relevant to its core TG – the youth, said Homi Battiwalla, Category Director – Colas, Hydration and Mango Based Beverages, PepsiCo India. He added, “Pepsi has always taken the lead in celebrating newer and emerging youth platforms; from cricket to movies to music, the brand has successfully created memorable campaigns and experiences for Youngistaan.”

“Football is gaining popularity at a pan India level now. While the sport has always enjoyed near fanatical following in certain pockets of India, we see huge interest among the urban youth as reflected by the high viewership across popular football platforms on TV. We see great future for football in India and Pepsi will be a part of it,” said Battiwalla.

Pepsi’s vision has been initiated at the grass root level by mega football league format, ‘Pepsi T20 Football’ that would involve 448 teams, 3136 players, seven cities and the entire Indian cricket team.

The tournament will be supported by a 360-degree approach including on-air, outdoor and on-ground initiatives, special edition packaging, and digital engagement programmes. Pepsi has also partnered with ESPN Star Sports to produce and showcase the tournament in a special eight-episode series, starting April 2012. ESPN will promote the concept on-air to drive participation. A host of apps, games, contests and social media engagement will drive the campaign forward.

So is Pepsi becoming the custodian of the sport in India and will it create more event properties like this? “The response in first year would determine the way forward. We aim to give a refreshing twist to the game by ‘Pepsi T20 Football’ tournament and through the involvement of Indian cricketers, bollywood and an international football star,” said Battiwalla.

“The campaign would engage not only existing passionate football fans but the entire nation. An initiative of this scale, illustrates our commitment to the sport and in the first year, we intend to learn from our experiences and plan the way forward,” he added.

The creative, media and digital partners for Pepsi i.e. JWT, Mindshare and Zapak, respectively, have all come together to make the campaign really ‘change the game’. The action which has begun in March will last till June when the tournament will see its finale.

So would Pepsi invest in other sports as well that are gaining great youth traction? “It is great to see other sports such as hockey, motorsports, etc. gaining popularity in the country but right now our focus is on football as we see it as an emerging youth trend in India,” concluded Battiwalla.

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