All good things must come to an end. But not in the world of Star India (Star), yet. Its campaign around the ICC Cricket World Cup is on a roll, fuelled by India’s run in the tournament.
The campaign does not have the usual flag-waving ads but humorous takes on stories around India and the World Cup (WC), released right after an India match.
Star’s hefty investment in cricket broadcasting rights (Rs 6,547 crore for eight years) not only allows it to monetise the much-loved sport, but squarely puts the onus of popularising each match on it. One can not ignore the fatigue effect of year-round cricket on fans, perhaps necessitating such a concerted buzz.
Star’s campaign kicked off with the much viewed and talked about ‘Dhoka’ (betrayal) ad before the India-Pakistan tie on 15 February.
The ad charts a Pakistani cricket fan, sporting the team colours, waiting to celebrate a win over India in the WC since 1992. The long wait even sees him bequeathing the unused box of celebratory crackers to his son but to no avail. They have to continue putting it away, only to gather cobwebs.
It was Star’s in-house creative team that capitalised on the fact that India has not lost to Pakistan in a WC tie since 1992. “The India-Pakistan match is a unifying factor in the country, regardless of age, gender, or, whether you’re a sports fan or not. We wanted a campaign which will get the attention of the nation and would have a life of its own, but still be a part of the larger umbrella campaign #wontgiveitback,” says a Star India spokesperson.
The ad has got close to 6 million views on YouTube and Facebook and served as fodder for the rest of Star’s campaign to mark the following India matches in the qualifiers.
“The initial response to the video came from Pakistan. They accepted the film in great spirit and rebutted without any hate message or dirty war of words. The morning after the online release, we knew we had gone viral and had to do the second film for the India-South Africa game, taking the ‘mauka’ (chance) thought forward. With the positive reactions, we had to relook at the whole WC through an India-Pakistan lens,” says the spokesperson.
Just as fans began celebrating India’s win against its traditional arch-rival, Star launched the next ad, showing a couple of South African fans delivering a box of crackers to a group of Indian fans, singing ‘Mauka mauka’ and a voice-over stating that India has never won against South Africa in a WC match, and how the tie on 22 February would be a chance to change that.
Once again, fans had barely processed that the South Africa WC jinx had been broken, that the next instalment of the campaign was released.
In the first ad-break after the winning wicket was taken on the field, the new ad showed the same Pakistani fan watching the match with the two South African fans, all three wearing the South African playing jersey in support of the AB de Villiers-led team.
But India, contrary to expectations, manages to defeat South Africa. The Pakistani fan breaks one of the crackers in the box. He starts to remove the South African jersey when the doorbell rings.
On opening the door, he sees a young man with a backpack, wearing the UAE cricket team’s jersey. He hands the Pakistani fan a jersey and invites the latter to join him while cheering for UAE in the upcoming match between India and UAE on 28 February.
The string of ads is an effort to create enough excitement around the India matches.
Star has to reckon with a telecast of the WC that faces the challenge of timing.
Since the event is taking place in Australia, most of the India matches start at 9 am and go on up to 5 pm.
While the first two matches were on a Sunday, the next is on a Saturday and the one after that on a Friday.
The India matches are the main attractions for the on-air advertisers on Star’s many sports feeds.
“Our routine for the group games is to watch the game, script for both outcomes of the next game. As we are nearing release, being in touch with the audience online helps make minor tweaks depending on fan sentiment closer to the next game. Having an internal team work on this creative was a boon as the team knows the working of the channel well and is able to get things done quickly. We got real-time feedback and reactions to the campaign instantly to drive it forward,” adds the spokesperson from Star India.
Going ahead, the network plans to continue releasing new ads, both on television and on digital platforms.