One of the most famous ad filmmakers in India, Prahlad Kakar, recently released the book ‘Madman Adman: Unapologetically Prahlad’, which chronicles some of the important incidents of his life. While promoting the book, he spoke to Mid-Day and opened up on doing ads for soft drink brands. The conversation naturally veered towards his infamous Pepsi ad, featuring Shah Rukh Khan. It mocked Hrithik Roshan and was slammed by consumers. This was a time when Hrithik was pitted against Shah Rukh by a section of the media.
Prahlad Kakar confesses that a soft drink brand deliberately chose to show Hrithik Roshan in poor light in the ad featuring Shah Rukh Khan: “It BACKFIRED on us. Hrithik was so popular that we received criticism from consumers”
In the Pepsi TVC, a pretty girl (played by Tara Sharma) plays a game of spin-the-bottle and chooses to kiss SRK over a nerdy Hrithik Roshan lookalike, replete with braces. This was seen as a move by Shah Rukh Khan to get even with Hrithik for stealing the thunder from him. Also, Coca-Cola had then signed up Hrithik and hence, even Pepsi got a chance to take a dig at their rival’s brand ambassador. Prahlad Kakar at that time had advised the Roshans not to throw tantrums.
Prahlad was asked about this ad and he revealed that Pepsi (without naming the brand) did so as they were upset that Hrithik almost signed the deal with them but then chose to go with a rival company (Coca-Cola). He said, “That was deliberate. Hrithik was actually in talks with two top rival cola brands and ultimately chose one. And he did that at a time when the other was just about to announce they were in talks with him, which did not go down well. So, we showed Hrithik’s lookalike losing the girl to Shah Rukh Khan. We even made him look like a dork, with braces. It backfired on us. Hrithik was so popular that we received letters from consumers, criticizing us.”
The criticism was so huge that Pepsi had to issue a statement that the model in the commercial was not intended to look like Hrithik.
Also Read: “Shah Rukh Khan doesn’t mind playing second fiddle to the product. In so many ads, he, the star, loses out; Nobody in the unit sleeps the night before Amitabh Bachchan’s shoot” – Prahlad Kakar
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