"2024 Will Be A Year Of Ground-breaking Formats": Akankshaa Dalal, PepsiCo India

Dalal chats about Mountain Dew’s plans and marketing strategies for the new year, its focus on innovations, its recent partnership with Ranveer Allahbadia and The Ranveer Show and more

PepsiCo India’s Mountain Dew, as a brand, has always championed the indomitable spirit that propels individuals beyond their fears to embrace victory.

In an exclusive conversation with BW Marketing World, Akankshaa Dalal, Category Head, Mountain Dew, PepsiCo India, chats about the brand’s plans and marketing strategies for the new year, its focus on innovations, its recent partnership with Ranveer Allahbadia and The Ranveer Show and more.

Edited excerpts:

What can we expect from Mountain Dew in terms of future campaigns centred around courage and empowerment?

All through Mountain Dew has stood for ‘overcoming fear with courage’, that is our core, and we will continue to deliver this message consistently and stay relatable to our Indian consumers. So, while globally our tagline is "Do the Dew”, our local (Indian) tagline is ‘Darr Ke Aage Jeet Hai’. Starting with our tagline 'Darr Ke Aage Jeet Hai' the brand has emphasised that fear is a subjective experience without a defined measure, scale, or personal stature. Mountain Dew has steadfastly worked to destigmatise discussions about fear and highlight the inherent capability within everyone to conquer such challenges.

Encouraging people to embrace their inner heroes or sheroes is at the core of our brand philosophy. We see it as a true victory if our message inspires individuals to step into their own power. Our commitment is rooted in giving life to impactful stories of courage, with the aim of sparking significant conversations.

What are the upcoming innovations or technologies that the brand plans to integrate into its marketing strategies in 2024?

Innovation has consistently been a focal point of Mountain Dew's marketing strategies. Earlier this year, the brand spearheaded a ground-breaking experience to engage consumers in conversations about overcoming everyday fears. This marked India's first-ever brand activation of its kind, utilising real-time 3D rendering technology to create unprecedented holographic imaging and unveil a 25 ft Statue of Courage.

The on-ground initiative featured various consumer engagement touchpoints, including a #ConquerwithCourage wall designed to inspire individuals to step forward and share their tales of bravery. Subsequently, larger-than-life holograms of those who courageously shared their stories were prominently displayed at the site.

Recognising the substantial value that new-age technologies contribute to a brand's marketing campaigns, we remain committed to exploring and integrating more cutting-edge innovations in our future campaigns.

How does The Ranveer Show align with Mountain Dew's strategy to connect with diverse audiences? How has it contributed to the brand's overall narrative?

The inception of ‘Darr Ke Aage Jeet Hai' Stories was rooted in simple insight that everyone has their moments of both, feeling fearful, and having a victory story. This is also the core message of the brand Mountain Dew, which stands to acknowledge fear as an authentic universal emotion that doesn’t really have a defined scale or measure and nudges and cheers its consumers to push boundaries and conquer such fears with courage. Opting to collaborate with The Ranveer Show, was an obvious choice given its extensive fan base, reaching a wide and diverse audiences across top cities in the country. With a strong focus on younger audiences and a dedication to showcasing various tales of courage, we partnered with celebrated personalities from varied fields of sports, and entertainment. Their unique perspectives to the narrative, ensured meaningful dialogues that inspire audiences to acknowledge their personal fears and push their limit. This partnership significantly further strengthened Mountain Dew's reach, allowing us to share the brand’s core message through engaging real-life stories.

How does Mountain Dew plan to leverage the podcast's reach to foster courage and transcend individual boundaries?

As a brand we want to inspire the younger audience groups to push their limit by sharing stories of known personalities, and their journey of fear and courage. Our guest list for Mountain Dew's 'Darr Ke Aage Jeet Hai' series are all well-known celebrated people in their respective fields, who serve as role models. We believe that real life stories have powerful messages that can be very engaging, and drive change. To name a few we have had Kapil Dev, Yuvraj Singh, Bhumi Pednekar, Vikas Khanna, Neena Gupta and others on the show so far.

Making our guest list selection was not easy, because in a country like our we have so many achievers. But to ensure that the stories are relatable across the diverse demographic of our country we tried to go with celebrities who are popular and known throughout the country. We believe that the popularity of the celebrities x extensive reach of TRS x Mountain Dew’s core message (Darr Ke Aage Jeet Hai) worked as a great connect for the audiences and for us to create this property.

How does Mountain Dew measure the impact and success of its marketing initiatives?

One of the parameters of mapping the effectiveness of any brand campaign is through the number of people it reaches across the country, and the engagement and dialogue the campaign subsequently builds, contributing to the brand equity.

Based on the podcast episodes released thus far, we have achieved a distinctive reach exceeding 50 million exclusively on YouTube. Moreover, captivating snippets from various episodes have been shared and featured by diverse online and social media platforms, amplifying the series' reach and fostering virality.

How does Mountain Dew gather feedback from the audience regarding its courage-centric campaigns, and how is this feedback incorporated into future strategies?

As a brand, Mountain Dew is consistently striving to connect with its consumers by seeking their perspectives and feedback on campaigns through various channels, including feedback forms, focus group discussions, and other research methodologies. Recently, the brand recognized the inclination of consumers towards engaging in conversations that are more relatable. In alignment with this insight, Mountain Dew introduced the 'Conquer with Courage' campaign last year, delving into the everyday struggles of a diverse range of people. The campaign underscored the idea that individuals react differently to situations, emphasising that fear is subjective and lacks a definite scale, measure, or boundary.

What kind of a media mix is Mountain Dew looking at for the year 2024?

In the last few years, we've seen a significant transformation in media consumption patterns, shaped by the evolving behaviours of customers, the high access to internet in the country, this has resulted in the growing popularity of AVOD, Social Media Platforms, SVOD, and other digital content platforms. This shift has compelled brands, including Mountain Dew, to reassess their media planning and monies. Marketers focus on maintaining a significant Share of Voice (SOV) across the right media channels to maximise effectiveness and efficiency.

Our approach at Mountain Dew aligns with this evolving landscape. We strive to be present where our customers are and make media choices that resonate with their preferences. Our commitment to investing strategically in places and content that strengthen our bond with consumers remains unwavering.

Are there specific trends or shifts in consumer preferences that have influenced the brand's recent initiatives and that can be looked forward to in 2024?

As social media and easily shareable, bite-sized content continue to thrive, the landscape of influencer marketing has significantly shaped the design of brand campaigns in India. As the world gradually recovers from the pandemic, out-of-home (OOH) and experiential marketing campaigns have re-emerged to captivate consumers. The focus on over-the-top (OTT) platforms has transformed the storytelling landscape, highlighting intricate, insightful, and more relatable narratives that have recently dominated brand campaigns. We look forward to a year of even more disruptive narratives and ground-breaking formats in 2024 for brand campaigns, remaining optimistic about the evolving landscape.