Watch: The latest Pepsi ad takes a dig at FTII protests and it’s not at all cool

The latest Pepsi ad takes a dig at the protesting FTII students and comes across in poor taste.

Zenia D'Cunha October 15, 2015 20:18:54 IST
Watch: The latest Pepsi ad takes a dig at FTII protests and it’s not at all cool

Pepsi is known more for its brand ambassadors and creative ad campaigns than the actual USP of the product. From the Indian Cricket team to Bollywood stars and from "Yeh dil maange more' to 'Oh yes Abhi', the brand has managed to keep a finger on the pulse of the nation with its marketing.

However, the brand's latest television ad, 'Pepsi thi pi gaya', seems to be in poor taste (no pun intended).

The promo shows a group of protesting college students complete with slogans and billboards. The scene looks very familiar to those following new channels — as the setting of the ad closely resembles the strike by the Film and Television Institute of India (FTII) students in Pune.  The FTII students have been on the warpath with the administration for months over the appointment of Gajendra Chauhan as director.

Watch The latest Pepsi ad takes a dig at FTII protests and its not at all cool

Screengrab from the ad

To take this comparison further, we have the leader of the morcha declaring that their four-day hunger strike will go till the college administration agrees to their demands. Several FTII students have also gone on an indefinite hunger strike in the last few weeks.

But the comparison ends here.

In a seemingly insensitive twist, the ad shows a young student lured by a bottle of Pepsi, and drinking it just as their leader tells a news reporter that the fasting students will not relent. As everyone stares at him dumbfounded, the offender merely shrugs and says 'Pepsi thi yaar, pi gaya' (There was Pepsi, I drank it) in a cavalier manner.

This leads to the reporter disregarding the agitating students and the leader trying to rectify the situation.

While the message of the ad is clear — Pepsi is irresistible — the timing and attitude of the ad comes across as highly insensitive. The FTII strike has been going for weeks, has involved various politicians and film stars and is generally considered a serious issue. This ad merely shakes it off as a bunch of fickle youngsters tempted by a beverage.

Understandably, the FTII students are not very happy with it and have said so on their social media pages.

Several other Twitter users, including Bollywood actress Swara Bhaskar, also pointed out that Pepsi's dig at FTII protests was uncalled for.

Watch the full ad here

Owing to the criticism the TVC generated, Pepsi India issued a statement later to defend itself.

"At PepsiCo we take great care to ensure that our campaigns do not hurt viewer sensibilities. We would like to bring to your notice that the latest Pepsi TVC has no correlation whatsoever with the ongoing protest by the students of FTII and in fact, viewers are sure to have noticed, that in the TVC’s fictitious situation, the placards are clearly opposing a fee hike in a college. The new ‘Pepsi thi, pi gaya’ campaign simply highlights the great taste of Pepsi through the eyes of its consumers," a PepsiCo India spokesperson said in a mail to Firstpost.

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