Forbes India 15th Anniversary Special

Hic! Pernod wants you to drink more (water)

While the global liquor major's cheeky campaign intends to create awareness around drinking more water while consuming alcohol, the commercial does what every surrogate advertisement does: Reinforce the original brand and messaging

Rajiv Singh
Published: Jun 7, 2023 02:39:29 PM IST
Updated: Jun 7, 2023 02:48:31 PM IST

Hic! Pernod wants you to drink more (water) The ‘Drink More Water’ campaign seeks to focus on educating consumers on making the right choices by drinking more water and staying hydrated.
A bunch of friends, loud music, a crowded dance floor, a bar and all the young ones raising a toast. Oops, it’s just water. This is what global wine and spirits major Pernod Ricard India has done in its new campaign, which purportedly is aimed at building awareness around the need to drink more water while consuming alcohol. While the intent is great, the execution is diluted, and the message is intoxicating.

But first let’s start with the official messaging. “As a responsible corporate, our aim is to ensure that our brands are enjoyed responsibly,” underlines Kartik Mohindra, chief marketing officer of Pernod Ricard India, which has liquor brands such as Imperial Blue, Royal Stag, Blenders Pride, 100 Pipers, Ballentine's, Chivas and Glenlivet. The vision, lets on the CMO, is to create conviviality by turning every social interaction into a genuine and responsible experience of sharing. The ‘Drink More Water’ campaign seeks to do just that, says Mohindra, adding that the campaign focuses on educating consumers on making the right choices by drinking more water and staying hydrated.
Now let’s see where all did the brand goof up in communications. We will start with the media release. With an ambitious goal to reach around 30 million consumers in India, the statement underlines, the 'Drink More Water' campaign reiterates the company’s commitment to advocate responsible drinking among those who choose to drink. Now, let’s focus on the video. Any commercial or messaging with the name of the brand—either liquor or tobacco—defeats the entire exercise, and makes it look like a surrogate.

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Marketing and branding experts are quick to pick holes. If the intent is to build awareness around drinking more water, then why mention about the ‘ambitious target’ of 30 million consumers, asks Ashita Aggarwal, professor of marketing at SP Jain Institute of Management and Research. The message—drink more to look your best—too seems to be loaded as it doesn’t says drink more water. “There are a lot of better ways to convey the ‘responsible’ messaging,” she says. “This one for sure looks too diluted,” she adds.
Hic! Pernod wants you to drink more (water)
Harish Bijoor tells us why brands need to act more responsibly when it comes to corporate responsibility, and conveying the intent. “While ‘drink more water’ is a nice message, it loses its impact when one sees the brand name,” says Bijoor, who runs an eponymous brand consulting firm. “It’s a teaser, and the surrogate messaging can’t be missed,” he adds.
But in an industry where one can’t advertise—much like tobacco—and surrogates are the only way to bypass the lax laws, it’s normal for brands to adopt the easiest way of communicating with the users. Take, for instance, Royal Stag’s latest campaign featuring Ranveer Singh where the celeb underlines the tagline in a not-so-subtle way: It’s our life. We live it large.
Mohindra of Pernod Ricard explains the ‘large’ philosophy of the Royal Stag brand and the group. The latest campaign captures the spirit of today’s generation which does not hold back, embodies self-belief and wants to maximise life experiences. The new campaign, he points out, unveils a distinctive and youthful visual identity that’s fresh, energetic, and most importantly embodies the ethos of this new generation—the Generation Large. Well, the large disconnect between ‘drink more water’, and ‘live and make it large’ can’t be missed.