Tuesday, September 13, 2011

The Cola Wars... PEPSI

One of the most striking differences between the Asian entertainment industries (and I'm talking about all of Asia here) and the Western ones is that the concept of "selling out" doesn't really exist. Asian stars happily do commercials and act as brand ambassadors for various products without compromising their artistic value in the eyes of the audience. Western actors and musicians do commercials, as well, but there is always a suçon of shame to go with it. When actors like Brad Pitt go to Japan to film commercials and the media picks it up, it's not scandal exactly but an embarrassment. Now that I think about it, the concept was explored a bit in Lost in Translation.

Fortunately for us fans of Indian pop culture, the ridiculous notion of "selling out" has yet to catch on in a big way and stars still happily entertain us in commercials while picking up big pay checks. And one of the most visible products is soda. Yes, for whatever reason, that sugary-flavored tooth-rotting water has a huge cachet in the advertising world and to be asked to be the brand ambassador for a major soda brand means that you have arrived.


Pepsi has long branded itself as 'The Choice of a New Generation' - inspiring a young, fresh feeling in its advertisements.

The main man for Pepsi in India is the one and only Shahrukh Khan, who was the 'choice of the new generation' of the 1990s and remained the choice of that generation until very recently. His ads mostly trade on his romantic image and play up how Pepsi will get you in with women.

Here's Shahrukh's famous "Dil Maange More" commercials, starring Rani and a young Shahid Kapoor!

Shahrukh and Saif Ali Khan...

And Shahrukh playing spin the bottle.

The current reigning champ of Pepsi is Ranbir Kapoor, who has starred in a series of ads with a "Youngistaan Ka Wow" slogan. These focus mostly on how clever our Ranbu is to be getting away with drinking Pepsi in various situations.

Taking over the reigns from Shahrukh!

Vintage Youngistaan Ka Wow!

South Indian Pepsi Ambassadors include that Mr. Youngistaani Ram Charan Teja!

Here in an ad with Ranbir's ex-girlfriend Deepika Padukone.

And some members of the India cricket team...

ETA: Thank you to Banannie for pointing out that Tamil actor Suriya is also part of the Pepsi brand family!


batulm said...

I think it is Shahrukh Khan who made working in commercials acceptable. Until then, it was considered as a selling out for big stars to do ads. But he made even dancing at weddings acceptable. :)

Even now, the public doesn't approve too much of any star doing too many ads. At least the older generation doesn't.

Jess said...

I don't really get why a huge star would want to do a ton of endorsements. Some of them have like 10 products to shoot ads for...I'd take a day off instead of that many paychecks.

And Brad Pitt shooting watch ads (or whatever) in Japan isn't embarassing, at least I never heard that--I mean Wes Anderson even directed one of those commercials.

Banannie said...

There's also a Madhavan and Surya version of the Pepsi ad with SRK and Saif. I think Surya is the brand ambassador of Pepsi for the Tamil audience. Amir and Aish were Pepsi brand ambassadors before they switched to Coke.

Chrism929 said...

What a delightfully entertaining post! Thanks! Have you seen Morgan Spurlock's documentary on product placement (POM Wonderful Presents: The Greatest Movie Ever Sold)? Great fun and good information, too, though I guess this is getting a bit off-topic. But having seen that, it did make this focus on the difference with Bollywood all the more interesting.

Filmi Girl said...

@batulm Interesting point and I'll pick it up in my next post. I wonder if it wasn't 'selling out' as much as 'nobody to buy.' The loosening of the economy surely had something to do with the flood of 'brand ambassadors' and product placement in film.

@Jess I think there is a two-sided appeal. Commercials keep an actor's face in the public mind, even if there is a long time between films - Ranbir and Aamir are a prime example of this. And the other one is that a big paycheck for commercials allows an actor to take a chance on a film that may have a smaller budget, without compromising their lifestyle... or all the family they are supporting. I think SRK does this.

@banannie Ooo!! I will update the post with that if I can find it.

@chrism929 I have more coming up... stay tuned for a slew of soda CMs. ;)))

Amol said...

@batulm. sorry, no. Film stars had been appearing in print ads for a very long time before this newfangled "teevee" came along. Hell, Dara Singh was pimping "Milkfood Desi Gyo punjab da" on TV long before pepsi.

Filmi Girl said...

@amol That is what I thought - that the relative lack of ads came from fewer companies to offer the chance to appear in them.

A google search for some vintage ads might be in order.

The Bolly 'Hood said...

Interestingly, SRK has also done ads for Sprite--a Coca Cola product ;)

Pessimisissimo said...

As to why a star would want to do an ad...they pay much better than films do, for far less work.

While I would have to get an SRK-level payday before I'd drink "sugary-flavored tooth-rotting water" of whatever brand, I thought the ad with the young Shahid was pretty fun.

A.S. said...

Yes it is true, Amol. SRK did not start trend of stars working in commercials or made it acceptable. There were ads with stars like Shammi Kapoor and Ashok Kumar, who used to appear in Pan Parag ads. There was Dara Singh. Even some famous Punjabi singers like Gurdas Maan used to do ads for brands like Texla TV. Mithun, Jackie Shroff, even Dilip Kumar have appeared in print ads. Amitabh Bachchan's Videocon (or was it BPL?) ad was very famous in 90s. I do remember Amitabh did ad for an electronics brand, confused between Videocon and BPL! He did music videos too and once even released an album in which he had sung all songs! In late 80s, early 90s, Aamir and Salman also appeared in Pepsi, Limca ads respectively. I remember Dharmendra used to endorse Bagpiper! His ad was classic, it capitalised on his He-man image really well. :D [It had him mouthing the legendary ''Kutte main tera khoon pee jaounga'' line too!]

It is not like SRK made it trendy to endorse products. But yes, he endorsed many products while other stars were rather selective. Amitabh also started endorsing too many brands post 2000.

Note from Filmi Girl:

I love Bollywood - and all the ridiculous things that happen in Bollywood - but it doesn't mean that I can't occasionally make fun of various celebrities and films.

If you don't like my sense of humor, please just move on by - Trolls are not appreciated and nasty comments will be deleted.

xoxo Filmi Girl
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