A videograb of a scen from the Pepsi commercialVideo Grab/YouTube

Pepsi is known for its creative ad campaigns. The multinational soft-drink maker's iconic ad slogans such as "Yeh dil maange more" is something most Indians can relate to. However, its latest ad slogan - "Pepsi Thi, Pi Gaya" is in the news, for all the wrong reasons. 

The one-minute TV commercial shows a group of college students - wearing black kurtas and carrying billboards, protesting. However, "...the setting of the ad closely resembles the strike by the Film and Television Institute of India (FTII) students in Pune," according to Firstpost.

Since 12 June, hundreds of students of FTII are on an indefinite strike, protesting the Information & Broadcast Ministry's appointment of television actor-turned-politician Gajendra Chauhan as Chairman of the institute. According to The Hindu, the students allege that the new Chairman is a BJP party worker with limited artistic abilities and dubious capabilities for helming an institute as prestigious as the FTII.

In the ad, when confronted by a TV news crew, the leader of the protest is seen declaring how the students will fast for the next four-days and will not give up till the college administration agrees to their demands. At this point, a young student notices a Pepsi bottle carried by the TV cameraman. Unable to resist himself, he ends up drinking from it, just as the student leader declares "Khana to Kkya paani ki ek boond bhi..." [We won't even have a drop of water.]

As the stumped protesters turn to the 'guilty' student for breaking the fast, he replies: "Pepsi thi yaar, pi gaya" (It was Pepsi, so I had to drink it)

Actress Swara Bhaskar called the campaign 'crass advertising', while writer-director Atul Sabharwal raised his objection to the commercial, according to BornofWeb.

PepsiCo later issued a statement saying that "...the latest Pepsi TVC has no correlation whatsoever with the ongoing protest by the students of FTII and in fact, viewers are sure to have noticed, that in the TVC's fictitious situation, the placards are clearly opposing a fee hike in a college."

"The new 'Pepsi thi, pi gaya' campaign simply highlights the great taste of Pepsi through the eyes of its consumers," a PepsiCo India spokesperson told Firstpost.

A Twitter handle belonging to the FTII student protesters - Wisdom Tree @FTIIWisdomTree expressed their disappointment.

Twitter Reactions

Atul Sabharwal ‏@sabharwalatul

Did Pepsi just take a dig at FTII hunger strike?

Swara Bhaskar ‏@ReallySwara 

A pretty obvious dig! So not cool! #crassadvertising

gorvika rao @gorvika ... #notsocoolpepsi This is not just an insult to #FTII but to whole students movements ! Disgusting !

Watch the controversial Pepsi video


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