An interesting development caught my eye the other day – Mountain Dew has roped in Salman Khan as its brand ambassador. This is the first time that Mountain Dew has taken on a celebrity endorser, and it is worth noting that Salman Khan was earlier the brand ambassador for Thums Up (and also lead the famous campaign for Thums Up proclaiming Pepsi to be sweet and ‘for kids’)
Cola Wars have been infamous for their intensity and even the low stoops of their potshots at each other. They have been strongly dominated by Pepsi vs Coca-Cola battles while others brands are relatively dormant on this (Sprite did enter the war on the Coke side in India though, running a series of spoofs on Pepsi)
Pepsi and Coca Cola have been fighting on the foundation that they are similar products. But an additional facet of the Cola Wars is being fought between Mountain Dew and Thums Up – and this time the war is not based on product similarity. This one is based on the similar positioning that these two use – both are aligned with masculinity, coolness associated with masculinity and stunts, and are strongly action-oriented.
It is this positioning which has put them on a collision course, both intent on establishing a better connect, riding on Bollywood stars Salman Khan and Akshay Kumar respectively (Mahesh Babu too for Thums Up) . Mountain Dew has been involved in some stunt-based campaigns, like ones on mountain-biking, extreme racing etc, touching here and there upon humor (remember cheetah bhi peeta hai? ). Its current campaign on Darr ke aage jeet hai promises a lot of action in the near future.
Thums Up, on the other hand, has always been about being more macho, be it through showcasing Pepsi as a kids brand, or the numerous reality-defying stunts that Akshay Kumar portrays for them. It has a strong connect with action and stunts (it has recently dabbled into getting women in the picture, showing reluctant acceptance among women for the drink as being worth it. Watch the commercial here)
With Salman Khan being brought in, it would be interesting to see how people over at Pepsico use him, especially because it is important to design campaigns distinguishing from the Thums Up style, even though the same theme is being projected.
War Ahoy !!