Pepsi is known for its creative ad campaigns and punch lines, having provided the Indian populace with one-liners such as “Yeh Dil Maange More” and “Oh Yes Abhi”, but its recent ad seems to have hit the wrong chords.
The ‘Pepsi thi pi gaya’ spot features a group of kurta-clad college students holding a protest against the college authorities, and swearing to go on an indefinite hunger strike until their demands are met. The scene is reminiscent of the recent protests by the students of the Film and Television Institute of India (FTII) in Pune against the appointment of actor Gajendra Chauhan as the institute director.
But that is where the script takes a turn that has evoked many negative responses across social media over the past few days. In the TVC, as soon as the student leader claims to go on a hunger strike to a news reporter, one of the protesters is shown glugging down a chilled bottle of Pepsi. As everyone stares at him accusingly, he simply shrugs and says “Pepsi thi yaar, pi gaya” (It was Pepsi, I drank it). The reporter’s focus immediately shifts from the cause of the protest, to disregarding it, as the leader tries to salvage the situation.
The message in the ad is heard loud and clear — Pepsi is so irresistible that everything else fades in the background. But it’s the TVC’s timing and tenor that hasn’t sat well with its viewers.
Even the FTII students let known their disapproval of the ad on Twitter.
— Wisdom Tree (@FTIIWisdomTree) October 13, 2015
Responding to all the negative reactions, PepsiCo issued a statement to the media, saying the ad “has no correlation whatsoever with the ongoing protest by the students of FTII…The new ‘Pepsi thi, pi gaya’ campaign simply highlights the great taste of Pepsi through the eyes of its consumers”. In the meanwhile, the hashtag #SoNotCoolPepsi has been doing the rounds on social media, calling the beverage ad insensitive and distasteful. Here are a few examples:
— Aparna Bhattacharya (@chhuti_is) October 16, 2015
Watch the controversial commercial: