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Pepsi has announced a collaboration with stand-up comedian Zakir Khan ahead of Friendship Day. The collaboration with Zakir is aimed at inspiring friends to stand by their buddies and encourage them to “Rise up” from their friend zone situation.

As part of the campaign, Khan encourages the youth to be true friends to each other, inspire friends to move on and steer friends away from the dreaded ‘friendzone’ – a zone that the young generation is perpetually escaping.

By leveraging the power of technology, friends commenting on Zakir’s post as a cry for help for their friends in ‘friendzone’ will get a personalised message directly in their inbox that can be shared amongst friends as a pro tip to swear by.

In the video, Zakir Khan says, “Yeh jo friendzone hai na, yeh danger zone hai. Isse nikalo, bhaago, aur koi dost fassa hai toh use bachchao. Kyuki doston ki bhi zimmedari hoti hai. Friendzone ke chakkar se you’ve got to Rise Up Baby!”

The video -

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A post shared by Zakir Khan (@zakirkhan_208)

Shailja Joshi, Category Lead, Pepsi Cola, PepsiCo India, said, “Pepsi has captivated the youth of India for decades with its irreverence and is known to rewrite the way people see popular occasions each year. Giving Friendship Day a unique twist and inspiring the young generation to rise above friendzone with their friends, we could not have asked for a better fit for this campaign than Zakir, the buddy, the OG Sakht Launda. We are confident that Zakir’s comedic prowess and popularity will speak to the youth directly and encourage them to be there for their friends as they break free from their friendzone along with a chilled bottle of Pepsi.”

Zakir Khan commented, "I am elated to be a part of the iconic Pepsi universe – a brand that has been my friend over the years. This campaign is all about breaking free from the friend zone and owning who you are, and I am thrilled to be the voice of this message. With humour as the driving force, we will celebrate friendship, self-expression, and the beauty of being true to oneself. I hope the audience enjoys the video and is inspired to 'Rise Up, Baby!”

Vikram Pandey, National Creative Director (Spiky), Leo Burnett India, said, “Often when you are being friend-zoned, it’s your friends who can notice it first. This insight seemed really fresh to tap into this Friendship Day for Pepsi. And who better than ‘Sakht Launda’ Zakir Khan to bring this alive. An appeal to all friends, to save their friends from being friend zoned!”

The new campaign will be amplified with a marketing plan including digital, social media and influencers.