Interview: Our influencer strategy is complementary to our brand ambassador strategy: Dilen Gandhi, Pepsico India

Dilen Gandhi

In conversation with Social Samosa, Dilen Gandhi, PepsiCo India shares how Kurkure as a brand evolves with its customers, its’ latest campaign, leveraging social & influencers, and more.

Dilen Gandhi, Sr. Director and Category Head – Foods, PepsiCo India sheds light on Kurkure’s marketing strategy, the relevance of digital as a marketing medium for the brand, and leveraging influencers & celebrities.

Edited Excerpts :

How do you plan to communicate the brand message through digital in 2020? Where does digital stand in the scheme of things for Kurkure?

To resonate with digital natives, it is incredibly important for brands to curate creative campaigns and develop compelling content. Our Digital-first approach has become an integral part of our brand communication strategy

In 2019, we launched Ms. Kurkure as part of our ‘Khayal Toh Chatpata Hai’ campaign. Ms. Kurkure allowed us to visually showcase the quirky Kurkure humor that consumers love. Recently, we announced Akshay Kumar as the brand ambassador of Kurkure. Our digital approach ensured that Akshay Kumar shared an image of himself in a triple avatar on social media, giving way to memes and movie date announcements.

This was followed by the reveal of Kurkure’s association with the leading actor. The launch of the TVC for Kurkure’s latest mystery offerings – Kurkure Gazab Golmaal and Herapheri Hungama, clocked approx. 1 million views in a day.

The brand is surely planning to activate more digital communications in the future and reach the audience.

What is the idea behind the new campaign starring Akshay Kumar? Please take us through the conceptualization and its execution.

Being the one-stop family-entertainer all through its 20-year long journey in India, Kurkure has always aimed to add a spark of ‘quirky masti’ into the everyday lives of its consumers through its wide array of delicious product offerings and innovative storytelling. To carry forward this idea, we introduced two new flavors – Gazab Golmaal and Herapheri Hungama flavors and associated with the country’s leading actor – Akshay Kumar.

Akshay’s versatility, comic timing, creative experience, and commitment are an unmatched asset. The association between the brand and Akshay Kumar was revealed in Kurkure’s style. A shot from the TVC was shared by Akshay on his Instagram handle, which created a massive buzz on social media.]

We also have a couple of interesting social media activations in the pipeline, to further establish a seamless connection.

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What are the top digital trends you foresee for 2020?

Interactive content, Video Marketing, and Sentiment Analysis are my top picks for digital trends that will grow bigger this year.

Interactive content is expected to bring a paradigm shift to the traditional content format by giving consumers the power to personalize experiences and discover information. In this space, the rise of Voice Search is expected to change the way consumers search for information and encourage brands to tailor the user experience. Thus, a sustained focus will be to improve customer journeys across platforms and touchpoints.

Video has become an indispensable part of marketing and will continue to grow. This coupled with Sentiment Analysis will prove to be a great tool to assess a consumer’s feelings towards the product.

What is your take on micro-influencer and influencers vs top celebrities? Who do you think is more impactful to effectively communicate the brand message through digital?

To get the messaging right, Kurkure utilizes a mix of both. Influencers and celebrities are an integral part of Kurkure’s brand communication.

For us, both are of huge significance. While celebrities have a mass appeal, influencers drive consumers towards the product through their niche appeal.

We think of our influencer strategy as complementary to our brand ambassador strategy. Our brand ambassadors, apart from being amongst the best actors are also opinion leaders. Their mass-appeal and personality make them great carriers of the brand’s message.

Influencers act as micro-amplifiers that can drive engagement to the idea. It’s the equivalent to your friend relaying a message they’ve heard on mass-media. Your friend will add his own flavor while retaining the essence. This makes the message at once more relatable and stickier – however the original idea remains core.

With consumers getting more content-driven, what kind of content marketing strategy do you adopt for a product launch and marketing?

Our aim is to reach consumers in metro cities as well as Indian hinterland. Inline, we curate our messages in a manner that touches every Indian household.

As our consumers are continually evolving, it is imperative that we evolve with them and provide them with personalized and relevant experiences that they seek. Content has been pivotal to all our campaigns and platforms especially across social media. It is the drawing and differentiating factor, its scope, relevance, share-ability, are one of the many reasons for the brand success. In this context, we have experimented with differentiated content and formats.

From listicles, to videos (both short and long format), online polls and web- series, we have witnessed how content continues to be the king in marketing on social media.

What is the marketing mix for a brand like Kurkure? Which medium yields the maximum results for you and why?

To cater to a diverse audience like India, the brand has utilized both the traditional and the modern route. Our marketing mix consists of an extensive 360-degree marketing approach including Digital, Print, Radio, OOH & Retail. Television and digital media.

Kurkure has always given huge importance to the role of ‘family-time’ in a consumer’s everyday life where watching television is a part of that time. We have also been integrating digital portals and tools to reach our audience in a more personal way. It has turned out to be fantastic, as it ensures more creditability, transparency, and trust between us and our consumer.

To sum up, I would say both traditional and digital have been giving us great results in terms of marketing.

With a quirky campaign in the past year starring Taapsee Pannu challenging stereotypes, do you think larger than brand communications work?

Kurkure follows an unconventional storytelling method for its campaigns and messages. The brand has been known to take stereotypical topics and give them a ‘Chatpata’ twist. We have often portrayed and supported strong women personalities in our campaigns.

The rise of ‘causevertising’ is serving a higher purpose; the audience is becoming more aware, responsible and smart. The brands no longer play with the idea of ‘product’, they rather focus on the ‘purpose of the product’.

As Kurkure keeps on exploring new ways to connect with its consumers, the new marketing media channels have enabled us to pursue such goals.

Social media has helped us in garnering unexpected visibility.