Add Your Heading Text Here

Add Your Heading Text Here

Doing A Big Thing On A Big Brand Is Challenging But When Done With Right Intent, It Does Make Big & Real Impact: PepsiCo’s Saumya Rathor

In an exclusive interaction with Marketing Mind on the launch of Lay’s India’s commemorative stamp featuring women farmers as part of ‘Project Farm Equal’, Saumya Rathor, Category Lead- Potato Chips, PepsiCo India, mentioned that while marketing for prominent legacy brands is a challenge as it comes with immense responsibility, it is via big impact purpose-led initiatives like these that brands hit the bull’s eye for attracting young India workforce and build on positive and authentic brand and consumer perspectives.

| Published on June 24, 2024

Doing A Big Thing On A Big Brand Is Challenging But When Done With Right Intent, It Does Make Big & Real Impact: PepsiCo's Saumya Rathor

When one hears the word ‘farmer’ the first image which comes to mind, usually, is that of a male individual. But that isn’t the whole story as it is women farmers who for generations have silently been tilling the land, nurturing crops, and ensuring food security for families and communities, thereby being the backbone of agriculture in India.

Recognising the silent efforts, contribution and the critical role that these women farmers play in India’s agro ecosystem, Lay’s India has been championing the cause with its ‘Project Farm Equal’ in collaboration with Leo Burnett India with an aim to empower a growing network of over 2,500 women farmers.

This year at the Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity 2024, Leo Burnett India, interestingly enough, secured a Silver Lion for Lay’s India’s ‘Project Farm Equal’ in the category- Glass: The Lion for Change.

Just days before that, the potato chips brand conducted an on ground event in PepsiCo India’s Office in Gurugram wherein it commemorated the contributions of women farmers in the Indian agri ecosystem via the launch of a commemorative postal stamp- ‘Customised My Stamp’ featuring women farmers that was released by Manju Kumar, Chief Postmaster General, Delhi Circle, Department of Posts, Government of India.

Lay's Farm Equal Stamp Release

As per Lay’s India, the decision to launch the same was influenced by the fact that commemorative postal stamps a timeless medium of communication that have evolved into collector’s items, symbolising significant milestones into India’s culture and history and that by choosing stamps, Lay’s elevates these often-hidden heroes- women farmers by shining a spotlight on their relentless dedication that has played a pivotal role in India’s agricultural landscape.

This launch extends Lay’s India’s ‘Project Farm Equal’, a multifaceted program spearheaded by PepsiCo India and USAID through the Global Development Alliance Project (GDA), which was launched on the occasion of International Women’s Day 2024.

Speaking to Marketing Mind exclusively on the launch of Lay’s India’s Set of 12 My Stamp as part of ‘Project Farm Equal’, Saumya Rathor, Category Lead- Potato Chips, PepsiCo India, stated that since Lay’s is an agro-company at the heart of it, the brand for the past few years has been carrying out various agricultural-related endeavors ranging from Smart Farm, Biochar and more, and it was in between all these initiatives that the brand realized that despite 70% of the agricultural workforce being women in India, neither their work nor their identity gets recognised.

“The whole concept of Project Farm Equal for us is to really give these women farmers, the economic, social and mental well-being that they deserve and hence we, along with our team of agronomists and on-ground partners like USAIDS and GDA are working closely together to have an impact at the grassroot level and not 10,000-20,000 feet above ground. And what we’re doing is actually rooted in genuine change and that’s what makes me really happy and proud,” she said.

Doing A Big Thing On A Big Brand Is Challenging But When Done With Right Intent, It Does Make Big & Real Impact: PepsiCo's Saumya Rathor

The recently launched set of 12 My Stamp by Lay’s India, which has been designed by PepsiCo team itself, features a vibrant illustration of a woman farmer, clad in a yellow saree, proudly holding a basket overflowing with freshly harvested potatoes.

As per the brand, this image is a powerful representation of the countless women working tirelessly in Lay’s potato fields, and a symbol of their dedication and sacrifice.

Sharing her views on the unveiling of the commemorative stamp, Manju Kumar, Chief Postmaster General, Delhi Circle, Department of Posts, Government of India, said, “Postal stamps have always held a unique cultural significance, capturing and conveying stories that resonate with our heritage and values. Despite the digital age, stamps remain a powerful medium for storytelling. The stamp released by Lay’s and Department of Posts beautifully brings to life the contribution of women farmers, showcasing their invaluable role in Indian agriculture. Lay’s has done a commendable job in highlighting these often-overlooked heroes through such an aesthetically pleasing design. We are confident that stamp collectors across India will be eager to acquire these stamps, and they will inspire many to send letters again.”

To this, Rathor added, “Stamps have globally been a symbol of honour which immortalise people, moments, and movements of great cultural value. The launch of the stamps as a part of our continued vision with Project Farm Equal, marks a momentous milestone in our journey to empower and educate women farmers, equipping them with the knowledge and tools to succeed. By championing women in agriculture through this initiative, Lay’s is not only recognising their contributions but also spearheading a pivotal movement that places women at the forefront of the agricultural landscape.”

With this, she also mentioned that stamps had always been the part of the mix as the brand’s initiative of helping these women get an identity and tools that are designed from an ergonomic perspective is not just related to the company in particular but has a national significance.

“We’ve been having this conversation on stamps since quite some time now because we wanted to commemorate the event in a manner that is actually etched in history and therefore we launched it only now after having all the required things in place,” she said.

Expressing her views on the initiative, Veena Reddy, Mission Director, U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), in India, also said, “Although women represent more than 40 percent of the global agriculture workforce, women face unequal access to training, technology, finance, and land. Understanding this gender divide, USAID and PepsiCo are expanding the range of roles that women can fill, reducing gender disparities, and increasing women’s access to training opportunities, as well as improved working conditions.”

As per the brand, this initiative shines a long overdue spotlight on the critical role women play in agriculture and is a powerful recognition of their dedication and resilience as well as a step towards dismantling the barriers they face.

Starting June 15, these stamps have been made available to the public at the e-post office, serving as a tangible symbol of Lay’s dedication to empowering women in agriculture.

Commenting on the reason behind prominent brands being constantly scrutinized for purpose-led initiatives due to certain companies’ tendency to come up with a one-off campaign without any supporting legs just to create a positive imagery, PepsiCo India’s Rathor suggested that she does feel that some brands do certain things just because they think that to do something good would make them cool, but there are companies that take purpose-led initiatives and advertising seriously.

“When I was working on Pepsi, our sole purpose of purpose-led communication was to touch the chord with consumers in a different way, where we wanted to change mindsets. But at Lay’s, our efforts are towards changing behaviors and actually doing it at the grassroot level. Hence, I do feel that when the intent is right, purpose-led advertising does come bearing fruits and hence with this campaign too, I strongly believe that it’ll not make me feel comfortable with myself if I feel that I’m doing something that’s non-genuine, because for me, having authenticity is utmost important and that doing something good will lend credibility back to the brand,” she said.

The thing with legacy or iconic brands, if we may call them so, in her opinion, is that their marketing comes with a lot of ‘responsibility’ and truly so a wise person had also once said- ‘With great power comes great responsibility’ because if there’s one thing that is required at all times is- ‘not taking false steps’ even though some things are inevitable.

“But at PepsiCo, we try to do the best and be as sure as we can from a marketing standpoint and therefore we have our whole teams working on hand-holding a campaign. Of course it’s challenging, but I do feel that that’s the fun of it as well when you try to take care of something. Marketing for legacy brands to me almost feels like pottery as one has the foundation and everything in place already and the only need is to shape and create something out of it,” she said.

In addition, she also pointed out that doing a big thing on a big brand that makes big impact is just ‘amazing’ as today’s the right time for brands to take the right step because consumers are getting more and more aware with each passing day.

Sharing an example to support her views here, she mentioned that when she was showing Lay’s recent- ‘Drops of Joy’ initiative which is all about water sustainability to a group of youngsters, they responded to her in the most subtle yet impactful manner. They said, “It’s so heartening to know that Lay’s is doing all these initiatives because Lay’s is just not about best tasting chips.”

And that goodness in initiatives, in her views, is what makes people not only view the brand positively or love the brand even more, but also make them want to work for organizations like PepsiCo itself.

“Today’s India is all about young India and they’re the ones who are now getting into a young workforce, hence initiatives like these help companies hit the Bull’s eye for attracting the right talent along with a brand and consumer perspective. With the many purpose-led initiatives we’ve had at Lay’s, there has definitely been a positive rub off on the brand and that just tells us that we are moving in the right direction. Moving forward too, as part of this initiative where we are currently working with about 27,000 farmers in the country, we will continue to strengthen that because when we scale up from a consumer demand perspective, we would also want to scale up from our farmer partnership point of view,” she said.

Upon being questioned if there’s a certain sense of contentment within herself, as she dons the marketer’s hat for one of India’s leading food and beverage brand- PepsiCo and has recently shifted gears from taking care of the company’s Pepsi’s portfolio to that of Lay’s, Rathor stated that she has indeed had the privilege and honor to do campaigns that she has been able to do, especially on Pepsi which ranges from making people not have ‘self-doubt’, building on the concept of letting people say what they want to and moving on irrespectively and the latest being- ‘Rise Up’.

“I feel over here, I’m making such a massive cross-route impact and it has all been a very fulfilling journey for me. Having said that, I do feel that there are always moments of self-doubt and that jitter of how to take a step forward or not. But I would say that you’ll always have self-doubt when you’re doing something and at the same time, somewhere, you’ll have to have more faith in yourself. I wouldn’t say that I’m 100% confident all the time in everything, but it’s a journey that just goes up and up,” she remarked.

With this, she also mentioned that for every marketer, it’s all a sinusoidal curve and therefore, one should enjoy when there’s an up and when one’s down, the individual should just wait for it to come up.

Quoting Pedro’s speech, wherein he says that be it good or bad- its all just a ‘point’, she emphasised that she strongly believe that the notion transcends to all individuals, across roles, because there will be moments where people will feel amazing and then move on with the passage of time.

Similarly, when the bad moments arrive, she advised that one must look at them with the same feeling of ‘This too shall pass’ and eventually move on, in equal measure.

Interested in getting all the latest news from the world of Marketing, Advertising and Startups? Subscribe to our Scoop by Marketing Mind newsletter so that you don’t miss any updates.

Related Posts