October 12, 2014 marked the beginning of a new era in Indian sports. That's the day the first season of Hero Indian Super League (ISL) began.
It is a joint property of Star India and IMG-Reliance.
Hero ISL will be played on a home-and-away format - in any given match, the team playing in its own city is the 'home team' and the 'away team' is the opposing team that is from a different city. So each team will play seven home and seven away matches.
Adding to the popularity of the tournament is the presence of global names like Robert Pirès, former France and Arsenal mid-fielder, Fredrik Ljungberg, former Swedish player and ex-Arsenal mid-fielder, France's Thierry Henry who is a New York Red Bulls striker, HernŠn Crespo, former Argentinian striker, and Dwight Yorke, former Trinidad and Tobago forward.
If media, money and heavy-weights can truly change the fortunes of any sport in India - one that doesn't involve a bat and a ball, that is - then ISL organisers and enthusiasts have reason to be very happy.
To promote the league and make football a household game, IMG-Reliance and Star India have launched a campaign titled 'Cmon India #Let'sFootball'. Three ad films are on air presently.
The first TVC showcases people from different walks of life - and more importantly, belonging to different parts of India - enjoying the game. It's a colourful country-montage complete with shots of monks in saffron outfits, levitating sadhus, and folk dancers in traditional costumes.
In the second TVC, Bollywood actors and former cricketers are shown playing football. Some of these celebrities are owners of different franchises, while others are 'faces' of some of the teams.
Speaking about the campaign, Abhijit Avasthi, national creative director, Ogilvy and Mather, the agency that has created the campaign, says, "The brief was to inspire and encourage people to support the Indian Super League."
The attempt was to start a movement to up the standards of the game, and to bring the enthusiasm for it at par with what it enjoys in the West. "We want more and more people to love and join the game," Avasthi says.
Besides TV, the media mix for the campaign includes on-ground, outdoor, radio and print media channels.
The production houses that have worked on this campaign are Think Pot Productions and Asylum Films.
Does the campaign score?
Yes and no, we gather.
"It is 'folk-ish' at but nicely put together," says Bhatt about Amit Trivedi's music score, adding nevertheless, "But the visual execution of the ads is not that great."
Why so? "They looked scattered and are predictable," he critiques, "The second film has several chroma shots and could have been better given the amount of the money spent... a better product could have been delivered."
A chroma shot, we learn, is a shot put together using post-production special effects and 'layering' two video streams. That's how, several times, a scene is shot against one backdrop but when viewed, a different backdrop appears.
"The idea behind the visual execution seems old. It is certainly not a 2014 TVC," Bhatt says. One scale he rates the campaign high on, though, is recall value.
On the other hand, Divyapratap Mehta, former national planning director, Publicis Capital, calls the execution "nice and 'anthemic'."
"It's like a rally cry for India to join the football fever," he gushes, saying the campaign is both inviting and inspiring.
Mehta goes on, "What I like the most is that it is an attempt to make football a mass sport," noting the way in which the visuals are inclusive in that they feature people from different regions across India.
He points out, though, that "more" could have been done with the positioning.
What does he mean, exactly? "Well, it assumes that people love football," he explains, "It doesn't answer the question 'Why football?' Rather, it's more like a statement of ambition."