Abid Hussain Barlaskar

"We produced it not as an ad, but as a tiny film": Jigar Fernandes, Culture Machine

The president and content head of Culture Machine, a digital media company, is referring to his team's new ad film for the upcoming FIFA World Cup.

Launched on the 30-day countdown of the much awaited FIFA World Cup 2018, 'Meri Doosri Country', the new FIFA TVC, highlights the passion and excitement with which Indian fans support their chosen countries. Like other football ads, this campaign also has all the common images of a football tournament like the cheering fans, flying footballs, the trophy, jerseys etc. Nonetheless, it still manages to pull off something new, a new connect between the product and the consumer. 'Meri Doosri Country' was produced for Sony Pictures Networks by Culture Machine, a digital media company. It shows how Indian football fans pledge loyalty to a foreign country during this sports season. They also develop an emotional attachment to the country of their choice. Wins bring celebrations, losses cause broken hearts.

"We produced it not as an ad, but as a tiny film": Jigar Fernandes, Culture Machine

The new FIFA TVC

We at afaqs! spoke to the creative people at Culture Machine, the agency that crafted this ad and the marketing professionals at Sony Pictures Networks about how they overcame the age-old images that usually plague campaigns for sports events.

"Football is common ground between me and Kedar (Teny, senior VP marketing and OAP - sports, Sony Pictures Networks). The campaign grew around our common love for football. We did not produce it as an ad, but a rather as a tiny film about crazy football fans. We tried to keep it as real and original as possible. Unlike other ads, we knew that all people watching the game on TV do not wear jerseys and if there is a piece of trash on the roadside where there are cheering fans, we didn't change it. It is real and it had to be there. Being associated with football for so many years, I put it all in there. Moreover, it was my first time directing and all the people in the team were football fans," says Jigar Fernandes, president and content head, Culture Machine.

On being asked about the effort on background research and prepping for the campaign, Fernandes says, "Being an avid football fan and having played football myself, I knew everything. It was all in my mind. We didn't have to break a sweat on research. The locations, the places, the people; I put it out from personal experience. We included the football-crazy parts of the country like the North East, Goa, Bengal, and Kerala."

"We produced it not as an ad, but as a tiny film": Jigar Fernandes, Culture Machine

Kedar Teny

"We produced it not as an ad, but as a tiny film": Jigar Fernandes, Culture Machine

Jigar Fernandes

Providing insight about the inception of 'Meri Doosri Country' and making it stand out despite the age-old, done to death football imagery, Kedar Teny, senior VP marketing and OAP - sports at Sony Pictures Networks, says, "Football is the second most popular sport in the country. It is the only popular sport where India lacks representation at the highest level. The game has an ever-increasing number of viewers despite India not having proper representation. Not only Indians, all the countries which do not have representations can relate to the campaign. In that way it is universal. All the clichéd images are there in this campaign too, but we had to do justice to the fans and it is all that mattered."

"It all bloomed out of the mutual love for football. I had heard of Jigar (Fernandes, president and content head, Culture Machine) and his passion for the game. We eventually met and the topic came up. It was just like the universe conspired to make it happen. All the team members were football fans. There are three more films that are underway and will be out soon," Teny adds when talking about Sony Pictures Networks association with Culture Machine.

"We produced it not as an ad, but as a tiny film": Jigar Fernandes, Culture Machine

Emmanuel Upputuru

"We produced it not as an ad, but as a tiny film": Jigar Fernandes, Culture Machine

Navin Kansal

Emmanuel Upputuru Founder, Orfans, a digital platform, had this to say, "Someone sent me the link to the film a few nights ago and my first reaction was, wow! It's exactly what I am working on. OrFans allows fans without countries to adopt a country. The Sony Pictures Networks film is a watchable, enjoyable film with a good insight; it's nicely written, well-directed with all the imagery of soccer ads. The ad demonstrates the love for the game that makes you go beyond borders and adopt a country for the month every four years. Hey, that sounds like a film for my app! But I must say the app takes the adoption further. So here's wishing the campaign #Meridoosricountry all the best."

Navin Kansal, chief creative officer, 21N78E Creative Labs, "Meri Doosri Country, is an articulation that sticks. Paying homage to fandom without going over the top is never an easy task. The insight that passion does not require a passport is brought to bear in the narrative and does so naturally without any fanfare (pun unintended)."