Illustration: Ramandeep Kaur | ThePrint
Illustration: Ramandeep Kaur | ThePrint
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New Delhi: Pepsi has had plenty of memorable advertising campaigns in India, ever since its entry into the market in the late 1980s. No matter how amusing or iconic the likes of “Change the Game” or “Nothing official about it” were at the time, however, none match up to the significance of “Yeh Dil Maange More”.

What did “Yeh Dil Maange More” have that “Change the Game” didn’t in 2011, nor did “Nothing official about it” in 1996?

The answer lies in the memory of a martyred braveheart, who made the ad slogan his own during the 1999 Kargil War, keeping it alive in public memory, long after Pepsi has moved to using other jingles.

The legacy of Captain Vikram Batra, the Indian Army officer and posthumous Param Vir Chakra awardee, has made Pepsi’s “Yeh Dil Maange More” slogan a life motto.


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1998 release and subsequent success

Released in 1998, the “Yeh Dil Maange More” Pepsi ad film featured an up-and-coming Shahid Kapoor, with the cast of Kuch Kuch Hota Hai, Shah Rukh Khan, Rani Mukherji, and Kajol, in an extended dance sequence that would not have looked amiss in any of their widely successful films.

Following its original release, the “Yeh Dil Maange More” tagline became a mainstay in several Pepsi ads over the years, often involving prominent Indian cricketers, such as Sachin Tendulkar, Rahul Dravid, Sourav Ganguly and Harbhajan Singh, in the late 1990s and early 2000s

And as if acting on its own ‘Yeh Dil Mange More’ promise, one even roped in both Shah Rukh Khan and Tendulkar, a hit with both film and cricket fans.

In a sense, “Yeh Dil Maange More” represented a culmination of years of attempts by Pepsi to use eye-catching advertising to rival Coca Cola and eventually make its parent company, PepsiCo, among those with the largest presence in the food and beverage industry in India.

Former chief of the Pepsi business for communications firm J. Walter Thompson (now Wunderman Thompson) Rohit Ohri also named “Yeh Dil Maange More” as his personal favourite advertising campaign.

“The slogan was created by Anuja Chauhan. It was our adaptation of the global slogan which was ‘Ask for more’. “Yeh dil maange more” had more heart than the other slogan. This was because “Ask for more” was more about asking for more of a drink and ‘Ye dil maange more’ was more about wanting more from life and thus had a deeper and richer meaning,” Ohri said, in an interview with Business Standard in 2018.


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Becoming one with Captain Batra

In other words, “Ye Dil Maange More” was such a rousing success that it spawned years worth of TV ads and was also appropriated for the title of a 2004 Anant Mahadevan film, which coincidentally also starred Shahid Kapoor.

It’s continuing life in public memory, though, owes much to the legacy of Captain Vikram Batra. In an interview to Mid Day in 2009, the late soldier’s father, G.L. Batra, recalled how he had “always asked for more” to the point that the slogan became his “call sign”.

Capt. Batra’s commanding officer during the war, Colonel Y.K. Joshi, echoed his father’s sentiments to Mid Day, stating that Capt. Batra was swiftly rechristened as the Lion of Kargil, and later as Shershaah, a title that Pakistan also used to refer to him during the war.

Barkha Dutt had interviewed Capt. Batra for NDTV days before his death as part of her Kargil War reporting. Batra reiterated the slogan during the interview, and thus turned it into a “national motto”, said Dutt in a tweet remembering the experience.

Over the years, Capt. Vikram Batra’s twin, Vishal, through media interviews and literature, has played a major role in keeping alive the memory of his brother, years after the braveheart was killed in action, while attempting to save the life of a fellow soldier. And every time Captain Batra is remembered, ‘Yeh Dil Maange More’ finds renewed life in the country’s collective memory, ensuring that even generations who may not have seen the original ad, are familiar with the slogan.

In the run-up to the release of a biopic on Capt. Batra, Shershaah, in August this year, the bond between the Pepsi slogan and Capt. Batra turned a full circle, as the soft drink brand released a short film paying tribute to the fallen soldier.

(Edited by Poulomi Banerjee)


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