The New Pepsi Challenge Is Inviting Indians To Create Commercials For IPL 2015

The Pepsi Challenge is on for the social media audience, the campaign comes to India during the IPL giving consumers a chance to create commercials for the brand

The Pepsi Challenge India

The biggest challenge for any marketer today is to reach out to the youth. 84 percent of millennials don’t like traditional advertising nor do they trust it, according to a recent study. To solve this problem, brands need to empower their customers on social and put people at the heart of their marketing strategy, according to executives from Crowdtap, Weight Watchers, and MRY.

However the phenomenal success of the Ice Bucket Challenge purpose driven campaign has given a ray of hope to marketers, at least for Pepsi to get attention from the youth with the re-launch of its iconic campaign -  The Pepsi Challenge. The campaign isn’t about trouncing Coke repeatedly in head-to-head contests between blindfolded judges, launched back in 1975.

This time the global campaign integrates social responsibility with popular culture on social media. To reach out to the youth Pepsi has signed on a crowd of celebrities, including Usher, Serena Williams and Usain Bolt, to recruit consumers to participate in a series of challenges meant for the social media generation. Pepsi has also signed on Jerome Jarre, a bonafide star on social networks like Vine and Snapchat. The yearlong promotion rolled out on Wednesday, reported The New York Times.

“We’ve taken the DNA of the Pepsi challenge, then reinterpreted it for a new generation,” said Brad Jakeman, president of PepsiCo’s global beverages group. “Now more than ever, we are in a world where the consumer expects to hear from the brands they love in whole different ways.”

Every month, Pepsi “ambassadors” will use social media to issue a new challenge — many of which blend social responsibility with popular culture — that encourages consumers to “do something different.” All the challenges will focus on social media in some way, and they could involve technology, music or sports. “It could range from submitting videos or written work, taking a selfie, or working with our ambassadors in another way,” Patrick said. “This generation doesn’t necessarily care about winning things. They care more about getting their thoughts and content out there.”

For instance, later this month fashion designer Nicola Formichetti will present the first challenge from Hong Kong to bring light to poor communities across the globe using plastic Pepsi bottles filled with water and bleach to refract sunlight.

Pepsi initiated the campaign online with a video launch on YouTube. “It’s a modern marketing take on a wonderful piece of our history,” Pepsi chief marketing officer Kristin Patrick told “Back in the day, we used to just focus on a TV spot and the key art for retail. Now because of the Internet, it’s more about the creation of content and our digital program. It’s much more about how we’re making that connection with consumers to open up the brand so that it’s not just us talking at them any more.”

The Pepsi Challenge Comes To India and emerging markets

The new campaign also focuses on Pepsi’s expansion in the emerging markets. India, the market where Pepsi scores above Coke will introduce the campaign during the forthcoming Indian Premier League (IPL) cricket tournament.

The title sponsor of IPL, Pepsi will give the Indian consumer the opportunity to show their affection for the Pepsi brand by making 30-second ad films on the theme ‘Crash the Pepsi IPL’. A jury will select the best entries and those will be aired. “There will be six new advertisements every weekend throughout the IPL season, On the last weekend, best consumer voted advertisements will be aired, said Ruchira Jaitly, senior director (social beverages), PepsiCo India. “It is a risk. But, it is all about the consumers”. Finalists will get a cash prize of Rs 1 lakh.

With the ICC World Cup on, Pepsi India has been busy promoting #LiveItAbhi, our belief is that post World Cup, the brand would be more active on the Pepsi Challenge Campaign. Right now the brand has just updated its networks with campaign visuals.

The company has plans for a music challenge in Latin America and a food-related challenge in Thailand. One challenge Pepsi plans to introduce in several countries in the Middle East, including Saudi Arabia, Egypt and Lebanon, will ask consumers to record the sounds around them — the shouts of fruit vendors or clanks of construction, for instance — and upload them to the Pepsi Challenge website or through a mobile app developed specifically for the region. A celebrity producer will use them to create a compilation of various sounds. “The context in which consumers live really mandated for us as a brand to be as locally relevant as possible,” said Carla Hassan, PepsiCo’s chief marketing officer for the Middle East and Africa region.

Pepsi has added a social responsibility layer to the campaign in alliance with the Liter of Light organization, which has brought solar lighting to 18 countries in need while also recycling plastic bottles. Any time consumers use the #PepsiChallenge hashtag on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter or YouTube, the company will donate $1 to Liter of Light.

Connecting with the millennials

Marketing has evolved from 1975 to 2015 and so has the medium. From TV it is now social media with the target audience being the youth or the millennials. Not just Pepsi, Coke is also celebrating the Coke bottle which is 100 years young now.

Coca-Cola, which holds 42% of the total carbonated soft drink market compared with Pepsi’s 30%, is celebrating with a year-long campaign that includes new advertising, a music anthem and a series of art exhibits featuring works from some of the world’s leading contemporary artists including Andy Warhol, Norman Rockwell and Peter Blake. Throughout the year, Coca-Cola Journey will act as a hub for all centennial celebration content, providing a single destination for consumers to experience the campaign.

Comparatively the evolution of Pepsi’s legendary campaign is also in sync with the present times. Inclusion of Jerome Jarre, the social media celebrity in its ambassador list is one such example. Blending the campaign with regional taste, involving celebrities with taste buds that match with the youth and involving youth in social activities is sure going to touch the right chords.

In India it has chosen to associate its campaign with cricket. Crowdsourcing for ad films isn’t a novel idea, but it has gone by the tested norms in the country. Such a campaign sure has its own challenges but at the same time it opens up the creativity box and hopefully the consumer might witness ideas beyond Cricket and Bollywood.

It would be interesting to see how the youth would respond to a corporate sponsored challenge.