For the first time in PepsiCo's worldwide markets, doctors will begin endorsing Tropicana pure juices and Quaker Oats in India.
PepsiCo's snack foods division FritoLay India has tied up with the Indian Medical Association (IMA) to promote both products. An MoU between PepsiCo and IMA has already been signed to the effect and the endorsement deal holds good for a period of three years.
The current move envisioned by PepsiCo's global chief Indra Nooyi to increase the health focus of the company, hopes to counter the accusations hurled by NGOs against the two cola giants for flooding the market with sugary drinks and salty snacks.
PepsiCo hopes to improve its image in the eyes of the consumers as well as the investors by projecting products that fit the health and wellness trend in the country.
The company that is known for its celebrity endorsements has now turned to doctors to promote its products. The IMA will also endorse food and beverage products for the first time. Previously the medical body representing over 1,75,000 doctors in the country, has endorsed Reckitt Benckiser's Dettol soap, Procter & Gamble's Pampers diapers, and Eureka Forbes' water purifiers.
IMA's immediate past president Dr Ajay Kumar, who negotiated the deal with PepsiCo India said, "After PepsiCo approached us, we verified all their claims. Initially, there was some resistance on whether the IMA should endorse a company that also makes colas, but our research showed that Tropicana pure juices and Quaker have scientifically proven health benefits."
He added that any changes in the ingredients of Tropicana juices and Quaker Oats would bring the deal to a halt and nullify IMA's endorsement.
Representatives of the IMA and PepsiCo said the deal was non-commercial, and that the deal would involve PepsiCo helping IMA in sponsoring events and other public forums.
PepsiCo VP (health and wellness) Mallika Jankiraman said, "We believe the endorsement from a third party will strengthen the overall messaging of both products and lend further credibility to them."
The two ad agencies for Tropicana and Quaker have started working on the new scripts and hope to get them ready in two weeks' time. JWT handles Tropicana while the Quaker account is with another WPP agency Fortune Communications.
PepsiCo's decision to use doctors instead of celebrities to endorse Tropicana and Quaker has the twin purpose of establishing a foothold in the health and wellness wave as well as to edge past competitors.
Dabur Real, the indigenous company in the pure juices category is currently ahead of Tropicana.
In the breakfast cereals market, Quaker Oats has to compete with products of Kellogg, Hindustan Unilever and Nestle.
According to Dr Kumar, the association's latest endorsement could set the tone for other food companies wanting similar endorsements.
As part of the endorsement, the IMA will be involved in another PepsiCo program called Get Active, which involves associating with 80 schools in Delhi and Mumbai and promoting physical activity among school children.