PepsiCo aims to recreate the magic of its legendary ‘Nothing Official About It’ campaign by unveiling a playful advertising campaign for its Sting energy drink on the same day as the high-stakes India-Pakistan clash during the World Cup.
The ‘Nothing Official About It’ campaign during the 1996 Cricket World Cup completely overshadowed the official sponsor, Coca-Cola, making it one of the most disruptive moments in ambush marketing history in the country.
According to industry executives, the new ‘Unofficial Sponsor of Blue Energy’ advertisement for Sting aims to achieve a similar level of impact, especially since Coca-Cola remains the official drinks sponsor for this year’s World Cup.
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.
PepsiCo’s most rapidly expanding brand, Sting energy drink, has introduced its new blue variant in synchronization with the iconic blue color associated with the Indian team.
In July, George Kovoor, Senior VP-Beverages at PepsiCo India, highlighted Sting’s remarkable growth trajectory, surpassing any other soft drink brand introduced in India’s soft drink industry over the past thirty years. Referring to data from researcher NielsenIQ, executives mentioned that energy drinks are experiencing a robust growth rate of 50-55% annually. Particularly, the affordable segment, priced at INR 20-25 per bottle, is witnessing an impressive 150% annual growth rate. In contrast, carbonated soft drinks are growing at a rate of 8-10%, albeit on a much larger base. Sting is priced at INR 20 for a 250-ml bottle. Launched in India in 2017, the brand has expanded its distribution to encompass more than two million outlets.
Sting faces competition from Coca-Cola’s energizing drink, Charged by Thums Up, as well as premium-priced brands such as Red Bull, Monster, and Hell. Coca-Cola India recently announced that its brand investments for the second half of the year would be at an all-time high, anticipating a substantial increase in consumer demand during the World Cup and the festive season. For the World Cup, Coca-Cola is actively promoting its Thums Up, Sprite, and Limca Sportz brands, with the latter being the official sports drink of the tournament.
Reliance Consumer Products has also introduced a lemon-flavored sports-themed carbonated beverage named Campa Cricket, inspired by cricket.