The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Sehwag swings bat at Bubbly
- Pepsi asked to apologise for 'unethical' use of voice

New Delhi, April 3: 'Sir ji meri chance, Bubleee'.'

Phut. Shahrukh Khan slaps his shirt pocket from which the voice emerges to silence.

It sounds like Virender Sehwag's.

Seems Sehwag now wants to do to Pepsi what Shahrukh does to his ' or the likeness of his ' voice in the ad that's been a constant between overs in the India-Pakistan series.

He has written a letter to Pepsi accusing it of 'unethical and illegal use of his voice/voice-likeness' in the commercial.

'We have written a letter to Pepsi asking them to respond within next two days. We assume they will take suitable action. We expect an apology,' Latika Khaneja, the director of Collage Sports, which manages Sehwag, said.

A Pepsi official said: 'We have certainly not used his voice. We are quite surprised by such a reaction and don't know who has provoked Sehwag.'

He said the voice used in the ad is of a 'professional voice-over'. A senior advertising industry professional in Mumbai who has made commercials for Pepsi earlier said many of the voices in the Oye Bubbly commercial are mimicked. Voices sounding like Amitabh Bachchan's and Saif Ali Khan's are also heard in the ad.

Khaneja said: 'This is totally unauthorised, improper, unethical and illegal use of Virender's voice/voice-likeness undertaken by Pepsi, especially as his favourite catchline ' 'Sir ji meri chance' used in Boost commercial ' has been used in the new Pepsi advertisement.'

Sehwag endorses Pepsi's rival Coca-Cola. Pepsi has most of the star cricketers, including Sachin Tendulkar and Sourav Ganguly.

Pepsi said: 'Our legal department is looking at the matter. We will respond to the notice within the next two days.'

The official added that Pepsi had already moved to the next generation of the Oye Bubbly ad.

Several ads have featured lookalikes of film stars like Bachchan, Shatrughan Sinha, Govinda and Akshay Kumar. For instance, Pepsi's latest Mountain Dew ad spoofs Akshay Kumar who endorses Thums Up, another brand in the Coke stable. Most of them have carried voice-overs that have mimicked these actors in the knocking ads and have been free from controversy.

There have been no instances till date where a voice-over has landed an ad in controversy. But there's always a first.

The spat between Pepsi and a Coke endorser comes ahead of the start of the summer for which both companies have launched new campaigns.

While Shahrukh anchors the Oye Bubbly ad, Coke has resurrected its most successful brand ambassador Aamir Khan in its new commercial.

Pepsi has been embroiled in ad controversies before ' most of them with Coke. The most recent one was over Anant Mahadevan's film Dil Maange More.

This time it was Pepsi that was the aggrieved party, suing the filmmaker for stealing the copyright of one of its best known commercial taglines: 'Yeh Dil Maange More'.

The film had already been released when it filed a petition in Delhi High Court earlier this year to stop Mahadevan from licensing overseas distribution of the film and granting video rights.

The controversy petered out when the film bombed.

Another big splash was over a Coke-bashing ad that featured a Hirthik Roshan lookalike which came out just after the success of his debut film Kaho Na Pyar Hai.

Pepsi had been trying to get the new teenage sensation to endorse its cola but lost out to Coke. It hit back with an ad that featured Shahrukh Khan who beat a Hrithik lookalike to win the affections of a girl in the commercial.

The ad scored on two counts: it rubbished Coke and told everyone that Shahrukh was the king of Bollywood.

Rakesh Roshan, the film's producer and Hrithik's father, did not find it funny. He demanded that Pepsi scrap the ad and apologise.

Sehwag's managers, too, are asking for an apology, though they haven't yet said: 'Yeh Dil Maange No More Bubbly.'

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