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Ad men endorse Crash the IPL, but say agencies need not worry

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MUMBAI: PepsiCo is known for its innovations when it comes to television commercials, from Yeh Hai Youngistan Meri Jaan to the Cricket VS Football ad, featuring football legends like Frank Lampard, Fernendo Torres, Didier Drogba and Indian youngsters Suresh Raina, MS Dhoni, Virat Kohli and Harbhajan Singh. Be it cricket or football world cup or Indian Premier League (IPL), Pepsi has always maintained its elegance while promoting them by hiring a top class creative agency, roping in big names as brand ambassadors and spending bagfuls of money. However, the 2015 IPL saw an absolute new initiative from the cola giant, where it handed the creative reigns of its ads to the consumer.

Pepsi launched an ad film competition where consumers were asked to submit a 30 second ad film. The best of the lot would be showcased as a TVC (television commercial), besides that the winner of a phase would get a cash prize of Rs 1,00,000. Five such winners would be judged by a panel which comprises Bollywood actor Ranbir Kapoor, music director Pritam Chakraborty, film producer and director Gautham Menon, Pepsico India senior director marketing Ruchira Jaitly and advertising veteran-turned author Anuja Chauhan. Besides, the cash prize winner also gets the opportunity to enjoy the match from the Pepsi VIP box.

Not many knew about Nikita Deshpande before the ad she made got recognition and was telecast on television. Deshpande is an aspiring filmmaker and has been working in the film industry. With the help of her friends, she ensured that they don’t leave any stone unturned. From VFX to colour correction, from set designing to voice modulation, from creativity to technicality, the ad ticked all the check boxes. Practically by paying just Rs 1,00,000, Pepsi got a quality ad without holding numerous meetings with creative agencies.

PepsiCo India Holdings chairman and CEO D Shivakumar was asked during Goafest if consumers started making ads, what will agencies do? He replied, “The agency is very much involved in the campaign as a jury member and they will ensure that the content that’s showcased isn’t derogatory or controversial.”

Ad filmmakers are the best story tellers and have the capacity to change the fate of brand with just one ad. However, here instead of making TVCs, they are judging them. This opens the door for many other companies too. If they aren’t satisfied with the creative agency or vice versa and they have a good consumer connection, they may ask consumers to make ads instead of agencies. However this has the possibility to irk the advertising fraternity.

Ogilvy and Mather national creative director Rajiv Rao believes that Pepsi’s campaign is an amazing example of crowd sourcing. He says, “I don’t think advertising has to worry about anything. Crash the Pepsi IPL is also a creative idea. It is an amazing concept to engage consumers and if you have a platform like IPL and a product like Pepsi, you can experiment and implement such ideas. All the ads that have been aired would have been rejected if an agency would have approached with it. The concept behind crash the Pepsi IPL is not the video but the engagement and this is not something new. Twenty years back also agencies interacted with consumers for taglines and slogans. This is a one of a kind campaign where the motto was to make the country a part of it. At the end of the day, people want to see quality ads executed exclusively, which only the ad agencies or evolved ad film makers can produce. Whenever an ad agency make an ad its tested, well researched and then executed and hence in my opinion Crash the IPL is a great concept but advertising agencies have nothing to worry about. The bottom line is - Not everyone can make an ad.”

On the possibilities of the advertising fraternity getting impacted by Crash The IPL campaign, Lowe Lintas + partners national creative director Arun Iyer says, “I think it is an interesting and creative idea when it comes to engagement. People will submit good videos and some would be silly too. I don’t see any possibility of the advertising fraternity facing a blow of any sorts. The agency will stay relevant the way they are and we will keep making ads for various clients.”

A source from the advertising fraternity asserts, “There will be few more attempts by different brands and not all will succeed. Pepsi’s campaign has given an option to brands not satisfied with the agencies to try something different and this thought will stay in the mind of the agencies when they go for a client meeting. Overall, if we keep doing quality work, no one will be able to take our place. Yes, while consumers are making the ad, the brand is also surrounded by popular figures like Virat Kohli and Ranbir Kapoor. We have to keep that in mind too.”

Maxus managing partner South India & South Asia Sanchayeeta Verma opines, “Our world has changed. Both professional broadcast content and amateur but exceptional user-generated content co-exist today and there is a place and need for both. This is a brave move by Pepsi, acknowledging what is happening in the real world and acting on it. The communication solutions that agencies provide don't exist outside the real world and they should embrace this trend, rather than worry about it. Our content teams at Maxus have spotted this trend in the past and done some very compelling work for our brands, using this trend.”

Stalwarts like Satyajit Ray and Christopher Nolan started their career making ad for different brands, and the breed keeps multiplying with time. Ad filmmakers are always tagged as the best story tellers but sometime the standards does tend to dip. Crash the IPL campaign is a wakeup call for agencies… till they manage to stay unique, creative and allusive, no one can take their place, but if they ever become lackadaisical, there are other options too.

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