Oh, yes, but kabhi?

25 Apr,2014


By Ratna Bhushan


Why hasn’t IPL title sponsor PepsiCo not featured its prized and most famous brand ambassador MS Dhoni, India captain and captain of IPL team Chennai Super Kings, in any of its IPL ads yet, despite PepsiCo being title sponsor of the IPL, and despite this being peak season for colas?


Dhoni, the most prominent face of PepsiCo other than actor Ranbir Kapoor, is conspicuously absent in Pepsi’s advertising at least till now in the ongoing IPL, a departure from previous years when PepsiCo, in its trademark flamboyant style, had splashed media bursts on TV and outdoor featuring Dhoni either before the IPL kicked off or coinciding with the start of the tournament. But this time, the cola firm has restrained showing him in ads till now.


For the time being, PepsiCo has released teaser ads, which are expected to culminate in advertisements showing the India captain and the flavour of the season, cricketer Virat Kohli together as one of the options. But the timing of when these ads will be released isn’t clear yet. A PepsiCo spokesperson, however, said releasing Dhoni ads later in the tournament was part of strategy.


According to an official, one of the ads showing the Dhoni-Virat duo, which is likely to be released later as the tournament progresses, shows Dhoni as the lesser aggressive of the two and Virat as the younger go-getter.


The PepsiCo’s IPL ads so far have featured actor Ranbir Kapoor, based on a theme called the Pepsi Intern.


Last year in January, PepsiCo had announced its Oh Yes Abhi campaign, featuring Ranbir Kapoor, Dhoni and Priyanka Chopra. And the previous year too, Pepsi’s ‘change the game’ advertising featured Dhoni as the star in ads featuring several cricketers including Virat Kohli, Suresh Raina and Harbhajan Singh, along with many top footballers like Didier Drogba and Frank Lampard.


In Pepsi trademark style, the ‘change the game’ hoardings and ads were pushed very aggressively.


Two officials who work closely with PepsiCo, said the firm is being cautious about using Dhoni because of the company’s global code of conduct, which says, among other things, that the company needs to restrain itself from showing celebrities who’s names are involved in controversies. PepsiCo works with ad agencies JWT and Dentsu India-owned Taproot.


“It’s a given that Pepsi would want to cash in on their association with the India captain in peak cola and cricket season. But they are walking a tight rope and need to tread cautiously,” one of the officials mentioned earlier said.


On the other hand, it would not want to disassociate itself from Dhoni – still a youth icon, hugely popular and a successful captain. But Dhoni’s name is been dragged in the IPL spot-fixing scandal, and he has been alleged to have hidden the fact that Gurunath Meiyappan, named as accused in betting, was not the team principal of Chennai Super Kings but just a cricket enthusiast.


The IPL probe committee headed by Justice Mudgal indicates that Dhoni did not say the truth on the matter. The Mudgal report also mentions prominent cricketers as involved in spot fixing, though the names of the cricketers are not in public domain yet.


On the other hand, brands like telecom services player Aircel and Orient are liberally showing ads featuring Dhoni, cashing on the cricket season.


The IPL is currently being played in the UAE, as its timing clashed with the Elections. The tournament will return to India in its second leg.The time difference between the UAE and India is less than two hours, so the tournament remains a prime time view for Indian audiences.


Pepsi also happens to be a leading sponsor of the IPL on broadcaster Multi Screen Media.


Source:The Economic Times

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