Is hunger satiable?

September 7, 2008 § 7 Comments

When some random child on the road begged me for five rupees to eat, little did I realize that I was soon going to understand a lot more about this boy than his hunger.  And a lot more about a certain corporation‘s marketing excellence.  And a lot more about the Maslow’s little triangle.

I saw a little boy running towards me and when told me he was hungry and he needed money, I suggested that since he is hungry, I would buy him the food he wanted instead of giving him some change.  Readily the boy agreed.  When we went to a nearby hotel that served biscuits and samosas.  That is when I had his squeaky voice say “Pupsi dhaan venum”.  Pepsi.  I offered him some filling snacks and all he wanted was a Pepsi.

As I ponder more about this, I don’t know whether I should marvel at the branding & distribution genius in PepsiCo or worry about the little kid’s perception, or just be happy that I was able to satisfy his small want beyond his actual need.  The boy was visibly lacking nutrition and needed some wholesome food.  What does his need/want for that Pepsi indicate?

The shiny advertisements, the huge stars to endorse the brand, the easy access and of course the summer to accentuate the want… This is probably why the little boy wanted that one Pepsi over a square meal that he is missing.  But is this the customer Pepsi wants?  Beyond poverty, beyond hunger, beyond access, the boy was clear about what he wanted.

So many questions and thoughts raced through my head and I was wondering whether I should buy that Pepsi for him.

I did.

The look on his face when he saw the bottle, as he was drinking the cola, and after he was done, was priceless.


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§ 7 Responses to Is hunger satiable?

  • Archana (vetti) says:

    Nice one ! …. I just returned after watching the movie WALL E and both the information seems to connect somehow….capitalism and commercialism knows no poverty. sad but true 😦

    P.S : I like your writing

  • Ranjani says:

    @ Vetti: Completely agree. But the commercial ventures that actually address issues like poverty actually make it. Like the “sachet” concept of Cavin Kare. Have you read “The fortune at the bottom of the pyramid”? I haven’t and have heard that it is a real neat book.

    P.S: Thank you 🙂

  • planemad says:

    well actually theres nothing like drinking a cold bottle of pepsi on a hot summer day, even though i know its a fertilizer cocktail. not sure why

  • Ranjani says:

    @ planemad: For you and I, that cold bottle of Pepsi is quite refreshing, but for a little boy with an inflated stomach indicating malnutrition, the fertilizer cocktail as you rightly put it taking priority over a square meal is something that we all need to think about. What happens to responsible branding?

  • […] 20, 2010 by Ranjani Apparently PepsiCo didn’t read this when I wrote it. Strange.  I thought I tagged.  Sometimes, I tend to live in a world of […]

  • I’m glad you linked back to this post so that I found it! What an incredible, and telling, experience. It’s frightening how much effect a marketing campaign can have on us. I’d like to believe it’s only children who don’t know better (though what does that say about Pepsi marketing to them???) except that I’m sure it isn’t. How often do we all reach for something that isn’t good for us because it’s shiny and popular and the culture tells us we want it?

    Well, and because it’s cold and tastes good, but that’s the easy explanation, which ignores the much bigger issue involved.

    Thanks for sharing this thought-provoking story!

  • Ranjani says:

    @ Cheryl: Thank you so much for the read! This incident really changed the way I feel about business, marketing and corporations in general. I started being driven towards social entrepreneurs and saw hope in the world through those people and strive to be one of them someday! Which is what steered me towards UniversalGiving ( !

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