Cricket is a religion in India, football is a rage, but the national sport of India, hockey, has always had a lingering question mark over its identity. Bringing this attention deficit to the fore, Star Sports, along with production house Optimus, has come out with a campaign called 'Desh Ke Liye'. The TVC features two videos which portray the perception of hockey in our country. The campaign is a rallying cry to encourage Indians to celebrate the triumphs of the country's hockey heroes and support them as they make the country proud at successive tournaments.
The first TVC shows a press conference being held amidst empty chairs, implying the lack of interest the sport elicits. The achievements of the Indian hockey team in the last one year are revealed later. These accolades include India being the first team to qualify for the 2016 Rio Olympics by winning against Pakistan in Asian Games Finals and bringing home the coveted gold medal, and also defeating Australia on its home turf.
Clarifying the air of doubt over the future of Indian hockey, Sardar Singh, captain, Team India, remarks that they have set out to create history in Belgium and are going to play 'Desh Ke Liye' (for the nation) during the Hockey World League semi-finals, thereby implying the need to create a place for the sport in the hearts of the countrymen.
The second TVC shows an on-field discussion between two renowned cricketers - Kapil Dev from India and Shoaib Akhtar from Pakistan - about who's going to make the cut in the Hockey World League. Eventually, the video ends with Dev saying 'Humari team khelegi desh ke liye' (Our team is going to play for the country). Both these campaigns aim to create a better and bigger audience for the sport.
Star Sports has rolled out similar campaigns in the past as well - 'Mauka Mauka' and 'Come On India Let's Football' being the recent ones. The former garnered immense popularity during the Cricket World Cup. The channel intends to achieve the same for hockey, as a precursor to the Rio Olympics commencing from August 2016.
Suraja Kishore, executive planning director, McCann Erickson appreciates the intent of the TVC, that of giving our national sport its due. According to him, it highlights the irony of our hockey team winning all over the world, but receiving a raw deal at home. "The message is real without any hyperbole, so it will be liked," he says.
Will it create the kind of impact that 'Mauka Mauka' did? Kishore doubts it. "There could have been a better articulation than #Deshkeliye which has a more patriotic undertone. Instead, Star Sports could have captured the passion and obsession that is not fuelled by fandom like in the case of cricket," he adds.
This is the first time that hockey has been projected as a mainstream sport in a campaign. While Kishore regards this as a "good attempt," he observes that campaigns on football and hockey have yet not been able to arouse fandom or interest. "The recall value associated with the campaign could have been better if we would have been provocative and unapologetic about playing our best without waiting for fandom," he concludes.