Two important routes to brand creation are visual and verbal. The visual (illustration, pictures, logo) and verbal (message, headline, slogan) elements are combined to create brand image. These elements engage prospects through two of the five senses, the sight and sound. Brand slogans assume heightened importance in present day time-short and over-assaulted consumer. Perceptual filtering and defense mechanisms are pressed into action to escape from incessant barrage of messages that hit consumer’s mind. Slogans for being short and mnemonic are effective tools because of being less stressful on cognitive system. Slogans can convey brand’s essence (what brand stands for) in an instance and simultaneously contribute to brand strength by building recall and visualization. For instance a sign off/ slogan like ‘High performance delivered’ (Accenture), ‘Melts in your mouth not in your hands (M&Ms) and ‘”When it Absolutely, Positively has to be there overnight’ (FedEx), ‘We try harder’ (Avis), ‘Think different’ (Apple), ‘Solutions for a small planet’ (IBM) convey brand promise succinctly and position it in relation to competition by highlighting relative strength.
In the quest to bond with its market, Pepsi has launched its new campaign ‘Right here right now’/ ‘Oh Yes Abhi’. It is interesting to see how brands change gears in their negotiation of psychological space in their search for relevance and resonance. Brand is much more than product, in this case the drink. And the drink is likely to deliver the same kind of experience. But then why the campaign has been launched that seeks to alter brand’s meaning semiotic ally? This brings us to the question whether people buy brands only for the utility sake or their delivery extends beyond functional boundaries. A campaign that aims to alter brand symbolism without any change of its product is certainly an effort given to align brand’s meaning with evolving consumer psycho-social reality.
Pepsi’s communication campaigns provide an interesting case study on changing youth psychology and life style. The brand is quick to size up the psychological space and read its undercurrents. It seizes opportunity in hidden concerns, dilemmas, and aspirations of its young target group. Prima facie Pepsi’s slogans appear simple statements with a very definite literal meaning. The denotative meaning actually is superficial to all these communications. The brand actually engages with its consumers at connotative level. Accordingly communication says one thing at express level manner but quite another at the unspoken form. One of characteristics of good brand is that it forges bonds which transcend the logic, reason and rationality. Consider the following slogans which Pepsi has employed over the time:
‘Nothing official about it’ (1996)
‘Yeh dil maange more!’ (2006)
“Pepsi ye pyaas heh badi” (2000)
“My Pepsi My Way”(2009)
“Change the game” (2011)
“Oh Yes Abhi” (2013)
In an interview with ET (28/1/13) Justice Verma said, ‘If the government takes time, they should make way for persons who are quicker. If, at 80, I am so impatient, govt should understand the impatience of youth’. Philosophically life is a different phenomenon from what it used to be. The meaning of time, relationships, institutions, consumption and artifacts has changed. There has been a fundamental shift in life values, aspirations and goals: life is short, time runs fast, conflicting priorities, a lot to be achieved, now is when you exist, pleasure is fine, me is first, old is no wisdom. The certainty (emanating from linearity of progression in everything) coupled with philosophy of abnegation (sense control) made contentment an easily realizable goal. When tomorrow is uncertain, the focus shifts to now, young seek instant gratification ‘ Cause time can’t wait then I sure can’t wait, I ain’t got no patience no I just can’t wait… ‘No time for procrastination’ (Now generation song). The dictionary meaning of ‘impatient’ is lack of patience; intolerance of or irritability with anything that impedes or delays/ restless desire for change and excitement. Impatience is fuelled by a desire to ‘do more’ (‘yeh dil mange more’/ ‘ye pyaas heh badi’) which proportionately reduces the time available. This is the reason why the new currency of trade has become time (do you measure distance by time or kilometer?)
The idea appropriated by new Pepsi campaign taps into inner psychological reality of impatient generation (psychology of instant gratification- no urge deferment). The slogan ‘Oh Yes Abhi, does not urge you to drink Pepsi ‘right now’ as it may seem to suggest but seeks to give the brand a new consumer resonating identity.
Prof Mitra, my esteemed colleague at FMS says that Pepsi’s slogans have a third layer of meaning which operate within the realm of sexuality. Read these slogans. They do seem to be laden with sexual connotations.