Mirinda, PepsiCo’s orange-flavoured fizzy drink brand, has launched a new campaign in India called #ReleaseThePressure to raise awareness of the stress students face during exams and the impact this stress has on them. To appeal to young consumers, Mirinda’s positioning in India has always focused on being fun and quirky; however, the latest campaign highlights an issue of social relevance among India’s teenagers today.

The digital film campaign features students writing letters to their parents, expressing anguish over how much pressure they face and how parental expectations add to that. The brand is looking to educate and build more awareness among students and parents that taking a break amidst the stress can go a long way to release the pressure.

Exam stress has been linked to depression and suicidal tendencies among India’s younger generation. According to a report by The Indian Express last year, suicide was the leading cause of death among young people in India. Additionally, a significant number of young consumers have suffered from depressive disorders.

68% of India’s student population have consumed a fizzy drink within the three months leading up to June 2016

In India, young people are the largest consumers of carbonated soft drinks (CSD). Mintel research reveals that 63% of consumers aged 18-24 have consumed at least one fizzy drink within the three months leading up to June 2016, rising to 68% of the student population – consumers who are currently in school and Mirinda’s core target audience.

With Class X (all India Secondary School Examination) and Class XII (all India Senior School Certificate Examination) students getting ready for their exams this March, #ReleaseThePressure is likely to resonate with students across the country.

Ethics in proxy

The #ReleaseThePressure campaign taps into Mintel Trend “Moral Brands”, which explores how companies can provide a moral or ethical stand on behalf of consumers, who may be too lazy, cash-strapped or time-pressed to turn belief into action. Brands that can successfully connect with teenagers on their unique challenges can build a loyal following that will stay well into adulthood.

Connecting with consumers does not necessarily have to be through the ethical credentials that are imprinted onto products; this could also take the form of sponsorships. Campaigns or non-governmental organisations (NGO) that provide young people with emotional support could benefit from cash-rich brands, while these said brands can align themselves with a good cause aimed at a specific segment of the population. For example, Snapchat offers emotional support and advice to teens through its Snap Counsellors feature, a service that was designed in collaboration with teen counselling organisation LoveDoctor.

PepsiCo is one of many companies that have driven up initiatives to spread awareness on social issues, taking focus away from its product. Mirinda’s product does not make a single appearance in the brand’s three-minute #ReleaseThePressure ad film, but instead, features only the brand logo at the end. Given the global backlash against the CSD category, we can expect to see more of this positioning and initiatives from products that have been perceived to be unhealthy among consumers.

Ranjana Sundaresan is a Senior Research Analyst at Mintel based in the India office.

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