Critical Analysis of Pepsi’s Change the Game Ad Campaign


PepsiCo being one of the world’s largest foods and beverage companies in the world has managed to expand its business in snacks and food worldwide. This has been possible through the use of various marketing strategies including the use of video marketing. For instance, change the Game campaign was used for the ICC world cup in 2011. The Pepsi Change the game campaign comprises Ms. Dhoni, Virender Sehwag, Kelvin Peitersen, T Dilshan and Harbhajan Singh.

In the campaign, the five are seen showcasing ‘Younngistaani’ who influences their cricket shots. Indian cricket captain Dhoni is seen in the video being taught by a young man how to play the helicopter shot using a hay cutter. Dhoni then practices the game using a hay cutter and the man gives him a bottle of Pepsi. He then requests him to exercise the shot during a tournament match. These activities in the video of Change the Game campaign was meant to change the games of cricket and football. However, this seems to go against best video marketing practices as provided by various advertising regulatory organizations.

The use of videos is one of the major ingredients to marketing efforts by companies and business organizations. PepsiCo change the game video attempts to support the youth in their unconventional and unorthodox approach to issues. The company is therefore in breach of some advertising standards as provided by various advertising regulatory organizations. Some of the advertising standards that PepsiCo is in breach of are discussed below.

Responsible Advertising Code of Practice

Responsible Advertising code of practice entails the rules set by various advertising regulatory bodies. These rules are formulated so that advertisements may not harm, mislead or offend anyone. IAA provides that advertisers should adhere to certain marketing techniques and ensure consumer protection as well as being responsible (IAA, 2007). However, it seems PepsiCo does not adhere to these rules. Nowadays, the youth tend to waiver from the society’s norms and this seems to be supported by Pepsi in its Change the game Campaign. This has been culminated by the fact the Pepsi wants to use all means possible to win customers. To this effect, the company uses mechanisms which suit its target customers, no matter what societal effect its actions may have. Such an action is considered socially irresponsible by some theories and video marketing best practices. One of the video marketing best practices that PepsiCo is in breach of is the aspect of Responsible advertising as provided by IAA. The video does not enable participants to socialize in the most responsible way required of marketing efforts.

IAA also provides that organizations should exercise self-regulation in advertising as part of observing the advertising code of conduct. Advertising codes should observe public policy concerns (IAA, 2007). However, PepsiCo prioritizes its objectives over public policy. This is evident from the company’s assertion that it is not what is laid down by law that matters but the end results. The video goes against conventional practices and pursues unorthodox mechanisms so as to achieve its objectives. This practice of pressing hard towards business objectives leads the company to go against responsible advertising codes of practice set by advertising regulatory associations such as IAA. One of the public policy codes of advertising which Pepsi has breached is the public policy on children. IAA provides that advertising should be responsible to children and families (IAA, 2007). Pepsi has seemingly neglected this policy by presenting a video whose content is against the policy. The images and thumbnails of the video display an irresponsible behaviour of the passionate youth who attempt to change the system. Therefore, Pepsi is not responsible in its advertisement to families and children.

Competitor relationship and society responsibility

Advertising rules as provided by advertising regulatory commission are also based on competitor relationship and social responsibility. For instance, one of the rules set by the International Advertising Authority (IAA) is that advertisements should be socially responsible and designed within the context of fair competition. As such, advertisements should always adhere to desirable competitor relationship. This also supported theoretically by the assertion that video as part of marketing efforts should also be viewed and used as a relationship building tool. Therefore, videos which display generally unacceptable images and thumbnails are not socially responsible and those which tend to display bad images of competitors are not adhering to the competitor relationship requirement. According to AFAA, advertising companies should also exhibit good responsibility towards consumers and the society’s wellbeing.

PepsiCo change the game ad is in breach of the social responsibility part of this rule. This is because the video tends to expose unconventional practices that are not required to build good social responsibility in the society. It is clear from the PepsiCo change the game advertisement video that the company is in breach of this video marketing practice since it portrays bad images which form part of the video’s thumbnails. For instance, in one of the videos used in the change the game campaign images of Dhoni, Raina, Kohli, Sehwag and Harbhajan are seen with only a cover of layer of colourful body paint. This reflects a passionate and ‘insane’ mood which characterizes an aggression of the youth gone overboard. These images formed part of the video’s thumbnails and are not the best video marketing practices in as far as Robertson’s assertion is concerned. Robertson (2011) suggests that a video marketing campaign needs thumbnails which are relevant and match the entire audience’s needs. This is in line with video marketing best practices which require a video to portray a good society responsibility since good thumbnails build good relationships and bad thumbnails build bad relationships in the society. Therefore, PepsiCo change the game advertisement video is breach of AFAA’s rule that advertisements should care about the wellbeing of both consumers and the community at large (AFAA, 2011).

One of the components of a video is promotion. In order to create a good video awareness, a company should promote it through various mechanisms. Pepsi used the ICC world cup and some other football matches to show their Change the Game Campaign video. By doing so, the company was supposed to show social responsibility towards the football community of fans and players, the users of PepsiCo products and cricket fans and players. However, PepsiCo change the game campaign increased the controversies of its video even more. In order to boost the promotional aspect of one’s video, one should ensure that whatever he/she is promoting contains images and messages that do not go contrary to the needs of the audience; this is social responsibility. Although Pepsi targeted the passionate youth, it missed the mark by engaging the entire sports fans who include the elderly and the non-passionate youth. Most of the times, sports players and fans who appear on the pitch behave in an extraordinary passionate and exciting manner which may not be acceptable to the general public. In this regard, the majority of Pepsi users who don’t consider the unconventional practices as good will desist from being loyal to Pepsi. Therefore, the practice tends go against what advertising regulatory associations term as society responsibility.

According to Borgerson and Schroeder (2008), marketing practices have the capability of influencing or determining the perceptions and interactions among the members of a given society. In video marketing, it is therefore one of the best practices to engage in social responsibility so as to avoid the distortion of the society’s perceptions and interactions (Borgerson and Schroeder, 2008). This is in line with AFAA’s provisions on Competitor relationship and society responsibility which requires that advertising companies should care for consumer’s and communities’ wellbeing, both in their health and interactions. Promotional activities such as video marketing by Pepsi have caused controversies and went overboard in terms of social responsibility. While video marketing is one of the best mechanisms to engage audience in an advertisement (Robertson, 2011), it causes alarm in terms of social issues sometimes and may result in detrimental consequences to the society’s norms if the best social practices are not observed. A company such as Pepsi should be able to observe socially acceptable practices in its video marketing practices as part of building a good image in the society by building a good interaction and perception of the users of its products as well as the society within which it conducts its business. This aspect builds a good image and reputation for the company and as microeconomic theories suggest, a good image is an asset to any business organization which contributes to the company’s profitability in the long run. Therefore, by not being socially responsible in its campaign strategy Pepsi tends to breach AFAA’s provisions on society responsibility.

Food or beverage products advertising standards

Food and beverage advertising standards provide a regulatory framework on food and beverage products advertisements. One of the rules provided by this framework is the rule which discourages misleading and misrepresented/unfair advertising practices. This rule is indicated by the Australian Advertising Standards Board. PepsiCo’s change the game advertisement video has breached this food and beverage advertisement code of practice because its advertising practice is misleading in the sense that it does not follow the conventional systems of the society but applies unconventional and unorthodox mechanisms in its campaign targeted on the youth who seem to passionately waiver from the society’s norms. The assertion by the advertisement that the use of Pepsi products requires the change of the game of football and cricket is misleading and unfair since such an act is a change of the conventional systems of the society.

Food and Beverages products advertising standards also advocate for the adherence to national codes of practice. This practice involves the conduct of marketing communications in a way that reflects national and cultural concerns sufficiently and adequately. This rule is given more weight in food marketing communications by IAA and Australian Advertising Standards Board because food and beverages form part of a society’s local culture and traditions. For instance, the Asian culture and traditions value a certain range of food and beverages. Therefore, the use of advertisement by Pepsi to change the traditional norms of Asian communities such as those of India goes against India’s national code of practice in terms of marketing communications. This is because the advertisement does not reflect the national concerns and cultural values of India and Indians.

Furthermore, Australian Advertising Standards Board and IAA provide that advertising firms and agencies should not advertise food and beverage products to children under the age of 12. By advertising though online video marketing, PepsiCo seems to go contrary to this provision since internet marketing does not limit the views of children on the internet advertisements. Children under the age of 12 years often view the internet to interact with their age mates across the world and get entertained by various videos from the internet. As a result, they can’t avoid viewing company advertisements on products. Therefore, online video advertising by PepsiCo is viewed even by children under the age of 12. In fact, PepsiCo uses young sportsmen to advocate for the involvement of young people in the change of conventional systems not only in sports but also in food and beverage consumption.


PepsiCo’s change the game campaign has acted contrary to the requirements of the best video marketing practices as outlined by advertising regulation associations. In its campaign, it has engaged cricket stars in a video which reflects the unorthodox and unconventional behaviours of the youth. As indicated by various advertising regulation associations, being socially responsible is one of the fundamental video marketing practices which the company ought to have used but failed to do so in what it calls a change of the game to blend the passions and excitements of the youth. This practice does not reflect a good social standing of the company since it involves the change of the normal ethical practices and acceptance of new youth-oriented unacceptable behaviours. PepsiCo’s actions are also seen as to be contrary to the foods and beverages advertising standards set by some of the advertising regulation organizations.


Following the evidence provided by various studies, it is clear that PepsiCo has not observed the best practices of video marketing. As such, this report recommends that companies like Pepsi should use better practices in the future. For instance, the companies should use images that are universally acceptable and provide descriptions in their videos which carry positive impact on the society as a whole, hence enabling the companies to be socially responsible. Aggressions and youthful passions should not be used to the advantage of companies who are seeking for corporate profits. Instead, companies should be guided by social and empathy principles. Companies should also follow the procedures of best video marketing practices as laid down by advertising regulation associations. It is also recommended that companies should be able to build good competitor relationships in their video marketing practices.

Finally, this report recommends that further research should be done to determine and justify best practices to be applied in video marketing in addition to the current practices. This will provide more insight into the whole controversial issue of video marketing. Companies like Pepsi tend to disagree with some of the current theories on best video marketing practices. Further research is therefore needed to substantiate the existing theories and to develop more theoretical frameworks and models in support of video marketing best practices.

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