has mostly been seen as a medium of entertainment for men. However, the short Twenty20 format has created more excitement around the sport, giving it the potential to be packaged as a full fledged entertainment programme. But even when packaged as an entertainment programme, is it really possible for cricket to compete with the general entertainment space in the prime time band?
SET Max, which will broadcast the Indian Premier League (IPL) matches from April 18, has conceptualised a campaign to let people know the kind of entertainment they can expect from the channel. The campaign will be launched on April 3.
SET Max won the broadcast rights for the IPL for US$1 billion. T Gangadhar, marketing head, SET Max, says that during the bidding process of the IPL, Max positioned it as the biggest and the best form of entertainment. This factor played a crucial role in Max eventually becoming the IPL's broadcast partner.
The Board of Cricket Control in India (BCCI) launched the campaign for the IPL last month in phases that described the introduction of the brand, team descriptions, choosing sides and team promotions. While BCCI's campaign highlights the game itself, Max will talk about the entertainment aspect of the IPL. The campaign on Max will promote the channel as the ultimate destination for entertainment for the next 44 days.
The ad film is reminiscent of well known Hindi movies such as Deewar and Karan Arjun and has a total duration of 75 seconds. Set in nostalgia, the film starts with a young mother giving birth to twin boys. As soon as they are born, the nurse hollers for their father, saying, "Inka baap kaun hai?" But there's no answer. The twins are called Ranjan and Mano. The children grow up without their father. After eight years, their mother is still hopeful that one day, their father will surely return. By then, it's become the norm for people such as the local pujari (priest), kiranawala (small shop owner) and chapris (roadside romeos) to torment the kids with the question, "Kab aayega tumhara baap?", and to tease their mother lecherously by saying, "Kab tak chupegi patton ki aad main. Kabhi na kabhi to aayegi bhindi bazaar main."
Tired with all this, the three lead a hopeless life. But one day, the bells in the temple ring and the kids holler for their mother, saying, "Maaaaa! Baaaapppuuuu." The mother knows that the wait is over. She puts red sindoor in her hair and enters the house. The scene is hilarious as the voiceover says: "Aa gaya Mano-Ranjan ka baap (father). DLF Indian Premier League. Sirf Max par."
The film has been produced by Rajesh Krishnan, director, Soda Films. Krishnan says Max wanted to show the IPL as the 'baap' (father) of all entertainment. So, there was an end to the idea, but no beginning. Elements such as the mother giving birth to the twins in the hospital in true filmi style, lechers such as the roadside romeos and the kirana shop guy, the temple and the auspicious bells, and the witty but funny dialogues were added at the spur of the moment.
The 1970s and 1980s look is deliberate and everyone was made to wear a wig to enhance it. Krishnan was especially satisfied with the two kids who, despite not being look-alikes, gave a convincing performance. Some of the other films Krishnan has made in the recent past include those for Fanta, Sprite and Mentos.
Gangadhar says that the IPL has huge star value and portraying it as just a sport is telling just half the story. Each team has a brand ambassador and a theme song. Team owners such as actor Shah Rukh Khan becoming the official 12th man of his team to bring in refreshments during the breaks with a different sponsor's logo on his T-shirt each time are just an example of the magnitude of fun the matches will involve. Apart from this, there are many pre-game and mid-game entertainment programmes that have been scheduled.
Competitor Subhash Chandra's Indian Cricket League (ICL) did not capitalise on the entertainment value of the sport as heavily as the IPL. Marketing and promotions for the league were also lacking as lots of people didn't know about the matches and many were indifferent towards them.
Besides the ad film, SET Max will promote the campaign in 150 towns through on-ground activities. These will involve contests, merchandising and other activities. Print is not being used as a medium of communication for the campaign. However, outdoor advertising, radio and the Internet will form a crucial part of the promotional mix. Sources indicate that SET Max is spending close to Rs 30 crore on the entire campaign.