Promotions and Profits

From conventional advertising, brand promotion has come down to logos and sponsorships.

By Omer Bin Abdullah | April 2022

Pakistan’s most loved sports outfit exhibits the Pepsi logo. Not to be outdone, soft drinks rival, Coke is plastered on a popular music genre. You are never away from some advertising of the sugary drinks.

A reported word of mouth is that it is essential to drink 7Up after meals as it “aids” digestion. The entry and market fortification of sugary drink is not new. Coca Cola arrived in Pakistan in 1953. Rival Pepsi had a shaky start to its innings. It entered the Pakistan market in 1959 but exited in 1963 due to dipping profits. However, it made a re0entry in 1979 with its famous skateboarding TV commercial which was translated into Urdu. It was the official drink of the 1996 Cricket World Cup, jointly hosted by India, Pakistan and Sri Lanka. The numbers don’t support the job creation argument. Coke franchise-holder in Pakistan, CCBPL has 6 plants and 13 warehouses throughout the country, employing 4,550 people. The output is 111 million physical cases. “CCBPL is a significant player in the growth of Pakistan’s economy since it is one of the country’s top foreign direct investments in FMCG (Fast Moving Consumer Goods) business and is one of the major tax paying beverage companies of Pakistan,” says Shabbir Kazmi, a Pakistan-based economic analyst.

When Pepsi abandoned local pop music in the early 2000s (focusing only on cricket), Coke filled the vacuum with Coke Studio – a show which became a massive hit in the region. In a reversal of fortunes, for the first time in many years in Pakistan, Coke became a trendsetter and Pepsi, the follower. The drinks continue to spread their tentacles. In modern times, sports have become a rags-to-riches avenue. Now Pepsi hoists a commentators talent find with its “Pepsi Voice of Pakistan Cricket.” Another internationally and now also Pakistan popular sports associated product is Gatorade. “While Gatorade is one of the biggest brands in the sports drinks industry, its nutritional merit is controversial. Is it a sugar-bomb that you should avoid at all costs? Or is it a nutritious option for hydration? The answer, as is the case with many nutrition debates, is not so simple,” writes Chrissy Carroll, RD, MPH, a U.S.-based dietitian.

The reason Gatorade includes so much sugar (34 g.) is that sugar can be useful during prolonged exercise. However, this is most relevant to serious athletes who are exercising for longer periods and with intensity. Casual consumption of Gatorade and other sweetened beverages can be problematic because sugary drinks like soda, sports drinks, energy drinks, lemonades, and sweet tea have been associated with obesity, weight gain, and other health problems. Are people aware of this, especially when powerful corporations hammer them – and intensely - with only their side of the story?

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