PepsiCo India brings back nostalgia: New 7Up bottles a retro look

For years now, beverage brands have timed their launches and major campaigns for the country around its summer months, the scorching heat of the season providing the best fillip to their sales. The flip side, however, is the clutter on shop shelves and across media that has only multiplied over the years. Hoping to sidestep the crowds this year, PepsiCo India is banking on retro cool and nostalgia to refresh its 7Up brand. 

The new 7Up packs are bringing back the old familiar Fido Dido, one of the early mascots to climb the popularity charts in the country in the 1990s. The curly haired character that slipped and slithered through most advertisements for the brand was also paired with popular celebrity ambassadors of his time and was among the early licensing experiments in India. The company says the nostalgia around Fido Dido is huge and that played a big part in their decision to bring him back. 

Gaurav Verma, associate director, Flavours Marketing at PepsiCo India says that towards the end of 2017, a study about consumer behavior found that retro was cool and there are a lot of memories and nostalgia around Fido Dido. “What we are doing is building excitement around the brand and we are triggering nostalgia with the old packaging,” says Verma

Also the ‘Keep it cool’ tagline that accompanied all Fido Dido advertising works well even today. Within the PepsiCo portfolio, Verma explains, 7Up is positioned as a relaxed, chilled out and laid-back brand. Other PepsiCo brands are more about ‘fun with friends, family, excitement of love’. To reinforce the character of the brand the company is not just bringing back the mascot, but has also designed its packaging to reflect a similar ethos.

‘7Up Back to Cool’ is the brand’s marquee summer campaign and it has two parts, of which communication and packaging is an important component, Verma says. Lisa Balm, creative director at Innovation Kitchen, Singapore who has worked on the new packaging explains that in a market like India, there are so many brands and packaging options that it can get quite confusing and it is imperative that a brand’s packaging stands out. She adds, “For most consumers, packaging is the tangible and most sustainable part of the brand and it is also the one that creates maximum excitement amongst them.”

7Up underwent a fundamental design change around four to five years ago, an effort, the company says that was meant to give the product a more natural look. Packaging has always had an important role in brand design and recall but in recent years, its importance has magnified. A few new brands such as PaperBoat (juices), Bira (beer), Chumbak (retail) among others have all focused on packaging and design that helps them stand out on shop shelves.

Balm says that packaging impacts the brand in two ways, the first is that there are consumers who know what they are looking for and the clarity and familiarity of design helps them navigate retail shelves. But there are also those who go in without a fixed purchase in mind, they are looking for change. Packaging is the disruptor for such consumers and influences their final purchase decision, says Balm. More so whenthe category is packed with a slew of local and hyper local brands as the one for carbonated drinks is in India. 

Devchandan Mallick, research analyst (Drinks and Tobacco) at Euromonitor International says, “Over 2017, carbonates witnessed growth in the number of regional players in the category. As many as 50 small and regional players operate in carbonates. These companies focus on niche marketing strategies with unique positioning and traditional flavoured drinks, and now form significant competition. Furthermore, many older carbonated drinks manufacturers that ceased operation in the late 1990s have re-entered carbonated drinks in India, for example, Bisleri and Artos.” Currently Coca Cola Company’s Sprite is the market leader. PepsiCo’s Mountain Dew and 7Up take the second and third position in the non-carbonated drinks market in India according to Euromonitor.

Globally PepsiCo has launched six vintage designs tracing the brand’s journey from the 1950s to the 2000s. The 1950s’ bottle has the line ‘Sure is Swell’, a popular slang of the decade, the 60s' has ‘Far Out Flavour’, the 70s has ‘Get Down, 7Up’ and the 80s says, ‘Clearly the Uncola’. The 1990s bottle has Fido Dido lying in his hammock with the trademark line, ‘Keep it cool’ and the 2000s’ bottle had ‘Timeless Taste’. “7Up has six different labels inspired by past decades and the things that were popular then. It is the perfect representation of our ‘Shelf to Media’ strategy,” says Verma. The campaign brings back the ‘under the label promos’ and popular merchandise from the past.

7Up is one of the eight brands in the PepsiCo India portfolio to touch the Rs 10 billion mark. It is being positioned to lead its ‘Performance with Purpose’ (PwP) goals in India, where the company is investing to reduce added sugars in its global beverages says Verma. The company sees potential in the category (lime-lemon) which, it says, comprises 40 per cent of the total ~220 billion carbonated soft-drinks market.

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