days to go for one of India's hottest sports properties to commence its spell on Indian television. With eight teams carrying a mix of national and international players, the DLF Indian Premier League (IPL) is all set to woo cricket lovers. Whether it will live up to the hype surrounding it or not is another debate altogether.
In the meantime, the IPL is pulling out all stops to ensure visibility in its communication. O&M has devised a two phase campaign for the IPL, which positions the property as an extremely competitive platform.
According to Anup Chitnis, executive creative director, O&M South Asia, IPL isn't about the teams and the country. A player may be playing on the same side as his otherwise arch rival, for instance. "It's all about your performance on that particular day, against the competing team," he says.
O&M has tried to build a do or die attitude in the communication. Chitnis admits that as this is a completely new category and territory in India, the agency took inspiration from the way international sports clubs such as Manchester United are positioned. "We then deduced that a loyal fan base is the most important factor for the IPL, and therefore, the 'Cricket ka Karmayudh' platform, to foster a competitive spirit," Chitnis says.
Press ads and hoardings to that effect were also released, which were all announcement based.
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Four TVCs in this series have been released, each creating a debate in consumer minds as to which team they would like to patronise. The first ad has a dentist (a supporter of Mumbai Indians) treating a patient (a Delhi Daredevils fan), with the latter getting frightened about his treatment the moment he gets to know about his dentist's loyalties. By a strange coincidence, the procedure that day turns out to be more painful than it is usually. Another ad has a young man almost getting up to offer his seat to an older man in a bus, but sitting down again promptly when he finds out that the man is a supporter of a rival team. The third ad shows a woman in a lift accusing the person next to her (wearing a Chennai Super Stars sweatshirt) of assault in the lift, while others behind them look accusingly at the baffled man. She walks out of the elevator confidently, flashing a Kolkata Knight Riders keychain subtly before the man she got into trouble.
The fourth ad in the series is on air only in South India, and has two versions. A Bangalore Royal Challenger is shown performing a gig; at the end, in typical rock star style, he rips off his shirt and throws it among the enthused audience, revealing a Royal Challenger shirt inside. Just as he prepares to leap onto the audience below, the people move to the sides and the performer falls flat on his face. As the audience walks out, the performer sees they are all Deccan Charger fans. Another ad has the same situation, but with the teams reversed.
All the ads end with, 'Which side are you on?'
"In a sense, we're creating a debate in consumer minds on which team they want to support," Chitnis says, "while also heating the fight up." The fight, clearly, will be based on what one likes about a particular team, be it the team's origin, a particular player, or even the celeb quotient attached to it. Press and outdoor ads bear words that question consumers on these lines (for example, 'You adore Shah Rukh, love Preity and worship Dhoni. Which side are you on?'). As some are not aware of all the eight teams, another hoarding has the logos of each one, bearing the same question 'Which side are you on?').
Well, 44 days, eight teams, 59 matches, no players, only warriors: That is the IPL's communication mantra to get people to 'own' their favourite team.
When the matches commence, there will be strip ads in newspapers informing viewers about the progress of each team.
The campaign has been devised by Chitnis, Anuraag Khandelwal and Satish deSa of O&M, and led by Piyush Pandey, executive chairman and national creative director, O&M. The films have been produced by Corcoise Films, with the musical abilities of Ashu-Dhruv upping the ante.