Ubaid Zargar

A brief recap of broadcasters going all in on IPL promos

Here is a list of campaigns that helped turn IPL into the hottest entertainment property in the country.

The Indian Premier League (IPL) burst onto the scene in 2008, introducing a new era of cricket entertainment in India. From its inception, it was evident that IPL wasn't just about cricket; it was a fusion of sports and entertainment, perfectly tailored to the tastes of the Indian audience. 

As the IPL gained traction year after year, it became more than just a cricket tournament; it became a prime advertising platform. With millions of eyeballs glued to their screens during the IPL season, advertisers recognise the immense potential to reach their target audience effectively.

Every year, broadcasters pull out all the stops to promote the tournament, orchestrating stellar advertising campaigns that rival the excitement of the matches themselves. These campaigns are marked by extravagant production values, catchy slogans, and most notably, celebrity endorsements.

The first broadcaster of the tournament, back in 2008 was Sony Pictures Networks. The tournament would go on to air on SET Max. The prelude to the tournament, however, was the first commercial from Sony introducing the IPL to its rightful audience. ‘Manoranjan Ka Baap’, was the title of the popular spot back in the day, when the network decided to take a cinematic route instead of cricket.

The network held on to the ten-year broadcasting contract for IPL until 2016, leading up to some more memorable campaigns along the way. In 2011, Sony unveiled its Bharat Bandh campaign, ahead of the fourth season of IPL. This positioned IPL as a national holiday of sorts.

Four years later in 2015, SET Max revisited this concept with a more specified proposition- India Ka Tyohaar. The anthem-led commercial was composed by the duo Salim and Sulaiman. The idea was to now establish IPL as a proper Indian festival.

In 2016, Sony introduced a new campaign for the IPL, this time aiming to bring the nation together, away from polarity and conflicts. The idea was to celebrate all the good things about the nation.

In 2018, Star Sports landed the broadcasting rights for the IPL, with Hotstar, a streaming platform owned by Star taking up the digital rights. What followed was a series of new campaigns, with new aesthetics and new propositions.

In 2019, Star Sports unveiled the Game Banayega Name campaign that pegged up-and-coming cricketers against already decorated players of the game. The commercial was created by Taproot Detnsu.

Then Covid happened. In 2020, all sports across the world suffered at the hands of the vicious pandemic. The tournament was rescheduled for a later date towards the end of the year. Before its commencement, however, Star brought forth its Ek Saath Waali Baat campaign, depicting the lockdown and social distancing predicament, and how the cricketing fervour could still persevere.

In 2021, After a spike in COVID cases in May, the tournament, which had initially started in April, was suspended indefinitely, with 31 of the total matches still unplayed. Star onboarded cricketing legend MS Dhoni for its IPL promotional campaign Asli Picture Baaki Hai. The campaign, in collaboration with IPL’s then title sponsor Vivo, aimed to lure audiences back to the second half of the tournament which was to be played in UAE. 

The first half of the tournament also saw promotions on Star’s digital streaming platform Hotstar with the India Ki Vibe Alag Hai campaign.

In 2023 the broadcasting rights for the tournament were redistributed. While Star renewed its television broadcasting contract, the digital rights went to Viacom18’s JioCinema. What transpired afterwards was a series of commercials where the two networks went back and forth in a bid to woo consumers. Both Star Sports and JioCinema had their set of celebrities trying to divide the audience between television and digital. 

While Star’s Shor On, Game on! campaign featured celebrities like Virat Kohli and Rohit Sharma, among many others, JioCinema had Dhoni and Suryakumar Yadav do all the talking.

This year, Star Sports has crafted a new anthem for the tournament. Titled Gajab IPL ke Ajab Rang, the video is everything you expect an IPL ad to be- colorful, loud, and overly joyous. JioCinema is banking on MS Dhoni playing a double role. Take a look.

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