Cannes Lions

Salaam Namaste

MINDSHARE, Gurgaon / PEPSICO / 2021

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COVID-19 lockdown in India was sudden & draconian creating a shift in the way brands connect with their consumers. It was an unprecedented challenge for a brand driving counter-cultural trends, to offer a relevant POV without losing its essence. Staying silent in a country with the world’s youngest population was not an option. Pepsi needed a meaningful POV remaining true to the brand in the COVID-19 context


With the number of Corona cases increasing, the burden on Indian public healthcare was rising. Imagine what would have happened if 1.3 billion people would have started shaking hands! To adapt to the new normal, Pepsi encouraged Indians to follow Social Distancing, instead of reverting to earlier ways of meeting and greeting with handshakes. Pepsi asked, “Why not make social distancing cool with the youth, as influencers, showing the way?”


Audience: Vibrant changemakers, who want to make a difference in the fight against COVID.

Insight: Youngsters, who are always known as rule-breakers, realized that in this new normal being cool was about following rules and not breaking them.

Media Planning, Approach:

Due to the lockdown fresh content across mediums and platforms was not available. This led the youngsters to increase their digital media consumption further. TikTok enjoyed a 39% increase in time spent, became a natural choice. A #tagchallenge was created, which was endorsed and kick-started by one of the most popular youth icons from Bollywood, Salman Khan.

By repurposing Pepsi’s existing hit track 'SWAG Se Solo' a unique mash-up with a message to practice social distancing, ending it with the hook step of 'SWAG Se Solo' was created exclusively for the social media. This was implemented via the exclusive branded lens on TikTok which narrated the four steps of



A unique mashup with a hook step was created and it was thrown in as a challenge. Salman Khan kick-started the campaign & Bollywood celebrities like Jacqueline Fernandez, Remo D’souza, Riteish Deshmukh joined in presenting their unique way to spread the message of social distancing. International cricket stars like David Warner, Yuzvendra Chahal & AB D'Villiers got on board too. Relevant and highly influential content creators on TikTok were roped in and they undertook the SWAG way of social distancing.

Media Channels & integration:

Tiktok enjoyed a reach of 220Mn monthly users. A Pepsi branded lens, #tagchallenge, and impact properties were scheduled on TikTok.

Timeline & scale:

The challenge was initially scheduled for 4 days, however seeing the momentum, it was extended by 3 days more. Cumulative video views of 17.9Bn and videos of 500K were garnered during the challenge.


1. With 5,00,000 joining the movement on social media, this was one of the biggest viral marketing campaigns of 2020 that broke the net & set new records.

a. Biggest social media challenge: #swagstepchallenge surpassed 100 billion views across Tiktok & Instagram

b. Whopping 5,00,000 UGC videos doing salaam-namaste during the campaign (75,000 UGC videos under 24 hours!)

2. From reel heroes to real heroes, this social distancing trend sparked India’s imagination

a. Frontline workers like doctors, nurses, military, and police officers participated generating 2.1Bn engagement on social media

3.Pepsi was the ‘choice of the young generation’:

a. Meteoric rise in brand equity score (H1’20 vs H1’19) beating Coke on key KPI’s of ‘youth’ with a positive movement of 10 points

4.Pepsi’s business doubled:

a. Doubled business growth over last month during COVID-19 (April vs May 2020) with 96% positive sentiment

5.PR value worth $1.2 million was achieved

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