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PepsiCo stings Coca-Cola’s official World Cup sponsor tag with new ad, ET Retail

<p>Representative Image</p>
Representative Image

New Delhi: PepsiCo is seeking an encore of its iconic ‘Nothing Official About It’ campaign by releasing a spoof ad campaign for its Sting energy drink on the day of the mega India-Pakistan clash in the World Cup.

The ‘Nothing Official About It’ campaign during the 1996 Cricket World Cup had stolen the thunder entirely from official sponsor Coca-Cola that year in one of the most disruptive moves in ambush marketing history in the country.

The new ‘Unofficial Sponsor of Blue Energy’ advertisement for Sting seeks the same impact as Coca-Cola is the official World Cup drinks sponsor this year too, industry executives said.

They said PepsiCo’s ad seeks to ambush Coca-Cola’s official sponsor status, and yet stays on the right side of the legal requirements of the International Cricket Council (ICC). “PepsiCo has recast two of its most iconic campaigns – ‘Nothing Official About It’ and ‘Men in Blue‘ – in this ‘Unofficial Sponsor of Blue Energy’ Sting ad,” said Rohit Ohri, chairman of ad agency FCB Group India. “The two Pepsi campaigns redefined the game, players and fans,” he added. Ohri was involved with both these when he was with ad agency JWT. The new Sting ad has been created by ad agency Leo Burnett.

An email seeking comments from PepsiCo elicited no response till press time.

The ICC has released a series of stringent advisories for brands, sponsors and partners to safeguard interests of sponsors. “It is evident that many people are eager to use the ICC IPR (intellectual property rights) to boost their business activities by marketing their products in connection with the event. The ICC is aware of businesses seeking to gain an unauthorised association with the event,” it has posted on its website.

Sting energy drink is PepsiCo’s fastest growing brand, and its new blue variant has been launched to time with the Indian team’s trademark blue colour.

“Sting’s growth trajectory is steeper and stronger than any other soft drink brand launched in India in the soft drink industry over the past three decades,” George Kovoor, senior VP-beverages at PepsiCo India, had said in response to an ET query in July. Executives said citing data from researcher NielsenIQ that energy drinks are growing 50-55% a year. Within it, the affordable segment priced at ₹20-25 a bottle is growing at a whopping 150% annual rate, they said. Carbonated soft drinks are growing 8-10%, though on a much larger base. Sting is priced at ₹20 for a 250-ml bottle. The brand was launched in India in 2017 and now has distribution in more than two million outlets.

Sting competes with Coca-Cola’s caffeinated beverage Charged by Thums Up, and higher priced brands like Red Bull, Monster and Hell. On Friday, Coca-Cola India said its brand spends would be the highest-ever in the second half of the year as it bets on a surge in consumer demand during the World Cup and the festive season. For the World Cup, Coca-Cola said it is extensively advertising its Thums Up, Sprite and Limca Sportz brands. The latter is also the official sports drink for the tournament.

Reliance Consumer Products, too, has launched a cricket-themed lemon-flavoured sports-based carbonated drink called Campa Cricket.

  • Published On Oct 15, 2023 at 11:46 AM IST

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