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Consumers appreciate brands sharing topical content, says PepsiCo’s Tarun Bhagat

In an interaction with, Bhagat, Director, Marketing, Hydration and Cola of PepsiCo India, talks about the beverage maker’s marketing strategy

Tarun Bhagat

Effective communication with the youth is possible when a brand develops the right message and delivers it through only those mediums and formats where they want to consume it, said Tarun Bhagat, Director, Marketing, Hydration and Cola at PepsiCo India. 

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“We believe that brands need to have the right mix to be able to communicate with millennials. It is a generation that believes in strong, original ideas, snackable content and visuals. The right mix of content piques viewer interest and encourages them to respond to or engage (like, comment, share) with the content and that is where the success of social media strategy lies,” Bhagat told He said brands that share topical content along with having an opinion around newsworthy events are received very well by millennials.

Talking about the brand’s social media strategy, Bhagat said Pepsi uses captivating captions, relevant personalities and unique content formats to speak to the consumer.

“We set out certain performance indicators at the beginning of each campaign, whether it is reach, consumer connect, brand recall for a specified period, or engagement across social media. The impact of any activity is then measured against each of the present objectives,” he said. 

Bhagat said a part of the marketing budget of Pepsi is set aside for ‘fluid’, topical moments that may come up through the year.

“At the beginning of the year, we identify hero moments and platforms that are relevant to our consumers and incorporate those as part of the marketing mix for the year. Budgets are then set aside for investment depending on the reach objectives we have in mind for each activity,” he said.

Pepsi’s marquee campaigns are supported by a 360-degree marketing approach spanning TV, outdoor, digital as well as social media platforms, including TikTok, Instagram and Facebook, which helps build recall.

This year, its marketing initiatives for 2020 kicked off ahead of Valentine’s Day, with a music anthem titled ‘Swag Se Solo’ that aimed at celebrating the youth of today who is single by choice. The anthem witnessed massive success with over 120 million views on YouTube in two weeks and a TikTok challenge that had over 5 billion hits with over 50,000 videos.

Asked how the company leverages the power of sports events to build brand recall, Bhagat said the brand has a legacy position with cricket and constantly innovated itself to strengthen its position in the hearts and minds of the country’s youth by collaborating with the sport.

“We are committed to associate with youth-centric, consumer-oriented events be it sports, entertainment or music through the year, which helps us connect with our consumers and build brand recall,” he said.

“Pepsi has always been a youth-centric brand that believes in encouraging youngsters to live in the moment, seize new, interesting opportunities and be their true self. Swagstar is a property that Pepsi is trying to consciously create to celebrate confident young people from every field and platform. These youngsters resonate with the word Swag by reflecting limitless self-belief and confidence,” he said.

Pepsi Triumphs over arch rival Coca-Cola on social media

Riding on the wave of moment marketing, PepsiCo India  had created a lot of buzz over social media around ICC Women’s T20, which helped it garner more conversations than its arch rival Coca-Cola, who was the official sponsor.

PepsiCo India  had roped in 16-year-old cricketer Shafali Verma as the ambassador ahead of the finale of ICC Women’s T20 World Cup, which coincided with International Women’s Day. She was promoted as the new ‘Swagstar’ for Pepsi’s youth-centric campaign ‘Har Ghoont Mein Swag’.

The brand rode the moment marketing wave after the conclusion of the match as well, connecting it with their campaign with #HarWomanMeinSwag.


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The brand says it managed to gain the limelight even though Coca-Cola was the official sponsor.

Bhagat said, “Moment marketing has become an integral part of every brand’s marketing mix now. It is imperative for a brand to be present at the right moments which are relevant to consumers. In fact, our extensive consumer research has shown that consumers appreciate when brands share topical content and have an opinion on newsworthy happenings. Hence, this International Women’s Day, we came up with #HarWomanMeinSwag, thereby celebrating the spirit of womanhood on that day and beyond.”

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