IPL Season 3: Back with a bang and a roll

By Savia Jane Pinto , afaqs!, Mumbai | In Advertising | February 16, 2010
The broadcaster and the IPL have rolled out the communication for the third edition of the tournament

The Indian Premier League (IPL) is back with its third season. The format, which combines the excitement of a limited overs cricket match in the time frame of an action movie, originated in India and was a hit with the audience from the very first season. Like the earlier season, the Twenty20 championship had its share of controversies and troubles this year, too.

& #BANNER1 & #IPL Season 2 was held at a different venue since the tournament coincided with the general elections in India. The series was taken to South Africa, much to the disappointment of many fans and critics, who believed that the IPL belonged exclusively to India. This year, things are a little different and the IPL is back where it began - in India. This is the premise that SET Max (the official broadcaster for the IPL) and DLF IPL have chosen in their communication.

The bigger view from the broadcaster

SET Max released its first phase of communication earlier, where seven of the team captains candidly spoke about how they're glad to be back. The theme of the communication was 'homecoming'. The second phase has been released in the first week of this month and is being aired across all major channels.

The second phase of communication is more of an ode from the people who missed having the game played on home ground. The film has been shot on a huge scale and takes forward the premise of homecoming. The TV commercial begins with a passenger in an airplane, who sees a huge roll of red carpet perched on a snow capped mountain. The red carpet is unrolled by a group of people and rolls through huge expanses of mountains and valleys to go through streets, by lanes and the other nooks and corners of the country to welcome the captains and the teams to a stadium for the IPL.

The film has been shot by Arun Gopalan from Storytellers and makes extensive use of computer graphics. The team at JWT Mumbai comprised Debu Purkayastha, Vistasp Hodiwala, Ram Jayaraman and Sundeep Sehgal. The music, a rendition of the national song Saare jahan se achcha, depicts that no other place is apt for the IPL.

The film started as one based on the soundtrack, with a lot of people running and leading into a stadium to welcome the tournament home. However, when the directors were briefed about the thought, the interpretation that Gopalan came up with (which included a red carpet as a symbol of welcome) was approved by the agency.

Gopalan's version, however, was restricted to the red carpet unfolding in a single city. The broadcasters asked for a bigger scale roll out of the red carpet since the background score was about the nation.

Have I seen that before?

However, there is an uncanny similarity between the SET Max ad and an ad for Coca-Cola rolled out during the Beijing Olympics. The similarity exists not only in the thought but also in the execution of the film. afaqs! spoke to others in the industry to understand what they think about the film.

When contacted, Gaurav Seth, vice-president, marketing, SET Max, tells afaqs! that the similarity is just a terrible coincidence. He says, "I'd like to think of this as an original piece of work, though it is very similar to the Coca-Cola ad."

KV Sridhar, national creative director, Leo Burnett calls it a wasted opportunity. "The red carpet is such a cliché. When its cricket that we're talking about, it could've been a film more skewed towards cricket." Of the similarity, he says that they should've rather borrowed from the passion that Indians have towards the sport.

"From the first frame, it reminds me of the Coca-Cola Olympic ad," says a disappointed Santosh Padhi of TapRoot India.

Prassana Sankhe, national creative director, Publicis Ambience, says, "The ad works for the moment," but has his share of doubts about whether it will be impactful.

Purkayastha at first is taken aback with the striking similarity and even admits to the uncannily same execution of the films, but says that an adaptation was definitely not what the agency or the client had in mind. Jayaraman adds, "It would be only suicidal to have thought that we could get away with trying to rip-off another ad - that too one that has been released only in 2008."

The film, they say, has not been made by design but evolved while ideating with the client and even when filming.

The initial set of ideas included the hordes of people running towards the stadium in order to welcome the players; an outpouring of people from all places gathering at the stadium; and different stadiums of the country giving their own renditions of the song 'Saare jahan se achcha'.

Also, says Jayaraman, the idea of symbolising the welcome with a red carpet came in only at a much later stage.

IPL wants to see you cheer

The DLF IPL films have been shot by Manoj Pillai of Thinkpot Films. All three films have tried to re-create the buzz and craze associated with watching a match live in a stadium.

The three films, Cheerleader, Dolphin and Sixer, ride on the thought of 'Stadium ka mazza sirf stadium mein hain' (The thrill and excitement of a stadium is found only at the stadium).

Anup Chitnis, executive creative director, Ogilvy India, says, "There are things that happen within a stadium, apart from just the match that's being played. It is these experiences that make the entire experience richer."

Having started off with about five ideas, one of which included having a celebrity, the agency and client narrowed down on three. The focus was on the audience and they being the heroes of the story. The thought was to iterate that the DLF IPL is back in India.

The films have been shot at Chinnaswamy Stadium in Bengaluru. The shoot involved close to about 1500 hundred people to occupy the stadium so as to create the crowd. Pillai had to create the the magic within a packed stadium while still rendering a small activity that happened inside it. "A stadium is a lot like a high definition TV with surround sound," he says of his experience when shooting. The hypnotic wave that envelops a stadium when a cricket match is going on had its own share of troubles for the crew when shooting the ads, since many people among the crowd wanted to step out just when shooting would commence. Pillai says that CGI (computer graphic imagery) was an option, however he didn't want to sacrifice the raw emotions of the audience.

The director of cinematography is Andres and the music has been given by Rupert Fernandes.

With the change in venue in 2009, the advertisers suffered many setbacks. With the return of the IPL to home turf, the advertisers and organisers are looking at a lot of support from the fans in terms of filled stadiums.

Do you think it's back?

Sridhar likes the Cheerleader film. The cheerleaders as a phenomenon happened only to the IPL and hence he says this particular film appeals to him the most. "It's the live interaction that one can have only in the stadium of an IPL match," says Sridhar.

Padhi likes the positioning of the films that make the most of watching a match in the stadium. However, he feels that the storytelling falls short in some ways and it could have been a more memorable ad.

Sankhe thinks that the film needed to work very hard. "I didn't get it that it was an IPL communication from the script. Only the voiceover gave away that it was an IPL film," he says. When the film aims to capture the life of the stadium, Sankhe feels that it lost out on establishing the fervour and passion seen inside a stadium.