Why it is my best campaign
When one has been in the advertising business for over two decades, identifying the ‘best campaign’ can be a tough task. Not for me. I was fortunate to have worked on a campaign that was iconic in its time — one that truly defined the youth in India. The campaign was Pepsi’s ‘yeh dil maange more’ (YDMM), which continues being one of the most recalled brand taglines.
Brief to the agency
Our brief was to find an Indian expression of Pepsi’s then-global tagline, ‘Ask for more’. It was a simple thought and many felt it would easily work in India. We, however, disagreed. We created the YDMM campaign in such as way that while the campaign followed the ‘ask for more’ route, it became endearing in that it was without a trace of greed. The idea was to communicate that it was the heart craving for ‘more’.
The route chosen and why
We went to Vibha Rishi, who was, at the time, chief marketing officer, PepsiCo, India, with just a five-slide presentation that had the magical tagline, ‘yeh dil maange more’. She liked what we had prepared and within 30 minutes, Pepsi’s biggest relaunch in India was ready to roll out.
At the time our campaign came out, India was witnessing a change, its generation was seeing a change. The country was liberalising. Global brands were coming in. Technology was transforming lives.
The Indian youth, now increasingly confident about their identity, wanted to grab these new experiences with both hands. They wanted more... or very simply, everything.
Our launch film was about ‘more’ movie magic, starring Shah Rukh Khan (SRK), Kajol and Rani Mukerji. The trio had just delivered director Karan Johar’s Kuch Kuch Hota Hai, which was a blockbuster. Our casting, then, was the biggest advertising coup at the time. We followed this quickly by the ‘Sachin mask film’ and the ‘Sachin-SRK World Cup’ film, which made the campaign even more popular.
Problems & challenges
I can’t recall any challenges since the client was with us all the way. One interesting development, however, was when we shot the ad with Shah Rukh (Khan) masquerading as Sachin (Tendulkar), in search of his Pepsi, we ended up with a 50-second ad instead of the expected 30-seconder. The ad breaks were short, say, the time in between overs, during cricket. Yet, we could not cut short the commercial because there was a whole surprise element to it and we were bringing in Sachin only at the end.
That is when we took a call to break up the ad and run the first part as a teaser, till the sequence where Mohammad Azharuddin pats Shah Rukh on the back, mistaking him to be Sachin (the Sachin mask film). It was an interesting solution to the time challenge that got the audience extremely curious about what was next, what was Shah Rukh’s plight.
All the three films hit the sweet spot with India. Our campaign’s tagline was soon on the lips of an entire nation. When the Indian flag proudly fluttered over Tiger Hill in Kargil on the morning of July 4, 1999, and Captain Vikram Batra joyously yelled, ‘yeh dil maange more’, this tagline became India’s way of life.
Pepsi ran this campaign in India for over four years. Within PepsiCo, it was recognised as the most successful rendition of its original idea. The brand’s performance indicators reached an all-time high with the campaign.
The campaign was Pepsi’s longest running brand idea in India; it used over 40 celebrities over four years; it had over 500 original pieces of creative work; it won a host of awards in recognition of being one of the more popular ad campaigns. The tagline was soon a media darling, with headlines ranging from ‘Yeh Dal (Janta Dal) maange more’ to ‘Yeh dil maange no more corruption’.
Will it work today
The insight was relevant for the youth at the time the campaign was launched: The economy was opening up, people were looking for new experiences, there was abundance of choice. Now, the youth have moved on, the heart’s cravings have given way to cynicism.
So, today, the concept will be a bit dated.