Shreyas Kulkarni & Yash Bhatia

How relevant is the ‘Mauka Mauka’ ad campaign today?

A nine-year-old campaign that has only mocked the neighbour’s cricketing record against itself. Time to move on?

Disney Star’s new Mauka Mauka ad has assumed an Indian victory against Pakistan in the upcoming ICC Men’s T20 World Cup match on June 9, maintaining India’s near cent-per-cent record against its neighbour in the tournament. 

“I am sorry for what is going to happen,” gloats Indian cricket fanatic Ratan in front of Pakistan cricket’s passionate fan Altaf after inviting him to his home before the upcoming match under false pretenses. 

Nine years have passed since the first Mauka Mauka campaign aired to widespread praise. Since then, a lot has changed. Both the countries’ World Cup-winning captains MS Dhoni (2008) and Younis Khan (2009) have retired from international cricket. 

Coming to advertising, India’s AdEx (ad expenditure) was expected to reach – as per GroupM’s TYNY report – Rs 49,000 crore in 2015. It is said to reach Rs 1,55,386 crore in 2024. What’s startling is the expenditure on digital alone, which is estimated to be Rs 88,502 crore this year, is almost the double of India's ad expenditure in 2015.   

What has not changed is the ribbing of the Pakistan cricket fan on the head-to-head record India enjoys over its neighbour – the bedrock of all Mauka Mauka ad campaigns.

But something is amiss; monotony is being felt because people can anticipate the ad campaign will be another episode of mocking the neighbour à la what is happening to CRED’s ads during the Indian Premier League (IPL).

It no longer brings any joy considering the state of the Pakistan cricket team – its form is more unpredictable than the stock market during the budget, and several viewers cannot name the players barring one or two. 

"We should disconnect from that comparison and give it a chance."
Arvind Krishnan on comparing the first and the latest Mauka Mauka campaigns.

Add in extreme cricket fatigue—the ICC Men’s T20 World Cup starts six days after the IPL final on 26 May—and people today have more entertainment options, from video streaming to scrolling reels, than they did a decade or two ago with traditional TV.

One cannot help but question if the Mauka Mauka campaign is needed. What is its relevance today? “The ad is even more relevant today,” says Kartik Smetacek, chief creative officer, L&K Saatchi & Saatchi.

He believes “Mauka Mauka is an IP of sorts” and is the one way a viewer immediately knows an India-Pakistan World Cup match is around the corner considering the campaign’s history. “It will make people focused on the match, especially when cricket fatigue sets in.”

"No amount of clutter or alternatives can ever replace a genuine emotional connection with a piece of communication. That's what makes it timeless and relevant even today as an ad," says Aalap Desai, co-founder and CCO, tgthr, an advertising agency.

An India-Pakistan match is often the highlight of a cricket World Cup because the two teams only play each other during these global tournaments, and can eclipse the finals if the subcontinent teams are eliminated early in the tournament. 

"India vs. Pakistan is an emotion. I feel it transcends practical feelings and cricket fatigue," remarks Desai.

India Today says the 2022 T20 World Cup match between the two neighbours created a new viewership record on streaming app Disney+ Hotstar with over 1.8 crore people having streamed the match. 

“For a lot of cricket fans, there’s a sense of rivalry, in an India vs Pakistan game. So, it is still pretty big across generations,” remarks Arvind Krishnan, co-founder and CEO, Manja, an advertising agency. 

"The commercialisation of cricket due to IPL has diminished the sense of national pride and the religious fervour the sport once invoked.”
MICA's Santosh K Patra

He says the campaign has a single job and it is to fuel up the conversations. “It has to pre-fuel those fires, to make that moment feel bigger and bigger.”

On the other hand, Santosh K Patra, associate professor and chairperson, media, entertainment and sports business, MICA, says the legacy of Mauka Mauka doesn't hold the same power anymore. 

“It is due to changes in both content and consumers over the past decade. When you look at football leagues in Europe, for instance, the fanaticism towards FIFA is different. Cricket used to have that same level of passion, but it's not the same now.”

He believes “the commercialisation of cricket due to IPL has diminished the sense of national pride and the religious fervour the sport once invoked.”

Good old Mauka Mauka no more 

The first Mauka campaign was a light-hearted yet important take on the behaviour of the subcontinent’s cricket fans – so passionate that they’ll descend onto the streets and burst crackers if their team wins, and if things don’t go their way, they’d rue for days. It was reminiscent of the ‘90s when entertainment options were limited and cricket was literally a national unifier. 

This year’s campaign focuses more on rivalry and upmanship. ‘Us vs Them’ took a more serious turn, and perhaps the usual innocent ribbing took a backseat. 

Smetacek disagrees. He feels it is still “good-natured ribbing” and such “rivalry playing as part of pop culture” will always be relevant. 

When asked what he’d do differently if he had to make the ad, he says he’d involve the South Asian diaspora (NRIs and Pakistani expats) who often present a united front but clear boundary lines are drawn during such matches. Think India-Pak couples or co-workers and how they’d fare in the run-up to the match.

An in-house job

Disney Star has made the ad with its in-house creative and has done so for the Mauka Mauka ads for a while. Given that it serves the interest of its own and which is more eyeballs and viewers, could a jingle or witty copy have made way for a more overt Us vs Them plot device? 

“Rarely does an in-house creative team create magic. I feel it’s a case of ‘ghar ki murgi daal barabar’ as their ideas are possibly given short shrift by the marketing team. Also, continually working on the same brand could lead to a sense of ennui and that shows in the work - as in this case,” comments Sambit Mohanty, creative head, North and South, McCann Worldgroup.

Manja’s Krishnan feels comparing the new campaign to something like 'Mauka Mauka,' which has been successful for many years, “can be a difficult starting point. We should disconnect from that comparison and give it a chance.” 

One can only judge an ad campaign’s effectiveness and success in retrospect. Will the new campaign make the Mauka Mauka campaign retire itself into the annals of classic sporting ads, or show that it has many more innings left in it? 

Unfortunately, like the match it is promoting, one cannot predict the outcome.

afaqs! reached out to Disney Star for this story but has not received any response till now.

Have news to share? Write to us