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Mauka Mauka

The viral campaign that caught the spirit of competition

On February 7th 2015, the Saturday before India played Pakistan in the ICC World Cup, the Star Sports team quietly uploaded a new commercial on YouTube and Facebook.

It depicted the labours of a Pakistani cricket fan and the box of firecrackers he’d been lugging around for 20 years, waiting for an opportunity to celebrate a World Cup win over India. The accompanying song, a Sufi tune with the chorus Mauka Mauka, poked gentle fun at Pakistan’s unfortunate record against India. The promo was meant to be a one-off take on the rivalry – a bit of friendly banter in anticipation of what was sure to be a special match.

Mauka Mauka (India vs Pakistan) - ICC Cricket World Cup 2015

The team behind 'Mauka Mauka'

“We thought it would get a few hundred thousand hits over the weekend, but by Sunday morning it already had 1 million views. By Monday morning, it was 3 million and we decided to make it a mini-series.”

Juju Basu, former Head of Creative Communication

Mauka Mauka would go on to become the most viewed ad campaign of the 2015 World Cup, with over 30 million views. It would be referenced in Times of India headlines and inspire hundreds of YouTube spoofs. The phrase ‘Mauka Mauka’ made its way into the Indian public imagination, livening conversations on social media and the streets. It even caught the attention of the Indian cricket team, who would sing it on the team bus. We didn’t win the Cup, but ‘Mauka Mauka’ won the hearts of millions of cricket fans worldwide.

“Marketing lead Rohit Khanna gave us the initial idea, which was 'don't let them celebrate'. Prathamesh Sapte came up with the bare-bones idea of a guy walking around with a box of firecrackers for 20 years. Then we shaped it into the script for the first commercial, says Juju.”

With the script ready, the production house was on-boarded to shoot the ad. During pre-production discussions, the team realized that that there was still a vital ingredient missing – a song. That’s when Vikas Dubey came into the picture and penned the lyrics for the song. “I thought that we should do a qawwali in Sufi fashion, because Sufi music touches hearts on both sides of the border,” says Dubey. “And the thinking behind 'mauka' is that the Pakistan fan is searching for an opportunity to celebrate, but we won’t let it happen. We turned it into a taunt.”

After the success of the first ad, the team went into overdrive. The next one poked fun at India’s own terrible record against South Africa. Other targets included West Indies, Dubai and Bangladesh, ending with a qawwali face-off between India and the rest of the world. Each ad was scripted, shot and released within a week, with unreleased contingency ads also in place for each result. We started releasing each ad right after the last ball was played in the previous match.

Mauka Mauka (India vs South Africa) - ICC Cricket World Cup 2015

“People were really fascinated with us getting the ads out so fast, and how we were doing it” laughs Basu “people on Twitter were asking if we knew the results beforehand”

But there was no fortune-telling involved, only incredible amounts of hard work. Everyone went above and beyond to ensure that everything went according to plan. “When we created our sports teams, we made sure we only hired sports fanatics,” explains Juju. “They're hungry to make an impact, not just for their careers, but also because they want to make a difference in the sports world. That's what drives them.” When India finally got knocked out of the World Cup, the BCCI office was flooded with calls from Pakistani and Bangladeshi fans chanting ‘Mauka Mauka’ over the phone. For Juju, this was yet more proof that the campaign had tapped into a rare spirit of friendliness between cricket fans across the subcontinent. “The first response videos actually came from Pakistan, and they all took it in the right competitive spirit,” he says. “For me the greatest impact of the campaign was that Indians and Pakistanis were engaging on the same platform.”

“We made a very sweet taunt and our opponents couldn't figure out a good comeback, so they got mad,” laughs Art Director Ajeet Mistry. “But for me the greatest moments were when I’d be on the local train and people all around me would be listening to the song or showing each other the ad. It was an incredible feeling.” But not everyone was as happy with the campaign’s popularity. Juju tells the story of running into Mahendra Singh Dhoni’s manager some time after the World Cup ended. He said ,what have you guys done? Now every time the team loses, we have to hear the opposition fans singing ‘Mauka Mauka’.

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