Nisha Qureshi

How legacy, content, and engagement fuelled KKR's iconic 17-year IPL innings

Binda Dey, group CMO, Knight Riders Sports speaks about KKR’s new podcast IP, the brand’s positioning and marketing plans

Korbo, Lorbo, Jeetbo re!! is one of the most iconic and recognised Indian Premier League (IPL) team anthems and has become synonymous with Kolkata Knight Riders’ (KKR) brand and fanbase.

Among the numerous teams that have come and gone in the 17-year history of the IPL, KKR has emerged as one of the most iconic teams, whether due to its celebrity owners or its on-field performance. The team has been a standout performer this IPL season and has clinched the title twice in the past.

Currently, there are ten IPL teams, each with its own fanbase and star players. However, maintaining relevance and staying fresh in people’s minds for 17 years is a significant challenge.

We spoke with Binda Dey, group CMO of Knight Riders Sports, about the marketing vision driving one of the IPL's most recognisable franchises and its plans for the future

The brand KKR

In 2007, when the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) introduced the IPL, eight teams representing Indian states and cities were auctioned in Mumbai. The franchise representing Kolkata was acquired by superstar Shah Rukh Khan and is also co-owned by Bollywood actress Juhi Chawla and her husband Jay Mehta.

Moreover, veteran cricketer Sourav Ganguly, a West Bengal native, became closely associated with the team, boosting its brand awareness and recall.

The team solidified its position by focusing on marketing through content opportunities, exemplified by slogans like 'Korbo, Lorbo, Jeetbo.' While many IPL teams have shifted away from their original brand positioning and iconography, KKR has maintained a strong association with the colour deep purple.

Binda Dey mentions that upholding the legacy of an already established brand comes with its own set of challenges. According to Brand Finance, an independent brand valuation consultancy, Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR) is currently valued at $ 78.6 million.

“The way the brand has been created right from the jersey to the logo and the anthem, everything has worked in our favour. We were also the very first teams to break even on the P&L side of things, so of course that is a big legacy we have inherited and makes our lives easier. However, we are conscious of it and have to keep the legacy going.”

“The one unique thing about KKR and the way we have branded ourselves is not around one or two-star players but rather the entire team. If you have noticed the way we promote the whole team together, it's not just about spotlighting the big players, but also these, young and the budding players and the kind of impact our coaching staff and trainers has had on them,” says Dey.

She highlights that they aim to train these budding players not only for the IPL but also for the Indian cricket team in the future.

Social media and content strategy

The team is currently preparing to launch a seven-episode podcast series titled Knights Dugout, hosted by veteran comedian Cyrus Broacha.

Scheduled for initial release on the Knights App, the podcast will later be distributed across various social media platforms, including YouTube, Facebook, and Instagram. This initiative aims to offer fans an intimate look into the lives of their favourite players and the unsung heroes behind the scenes. Dey also mentioned that she is in talks with several other consumer brands for potential partnerships and collaborations on the show.

Dey states that they focus on content to drive the brand affinity through various IPs like Knights TV - where you can actually see what's happening at Knights camp every day as well as Knights Unplugged- which covers the player’s practice sessions, workouts as well as diet. They also have another IP called Knights Fashion TV that gives insights about the player’s fashion quotient.

Dey mentions that most of this content is available on The Knights App, launched last year. According to her, it has become a crucial platform for KKR, with half a million downloads and a strong 70% active user base during the IPL season.

She also notes that KKR maintains a strategic balance between freshness and tradition in its social media approach. “We try to keep our content very fresh and relevant to the youth but also very clean and honourable. There is a lot of focus on cricket and also content.”

Beyond KKR

For the uninitiated, IPL’s KKR is not the only cricket league team that is owned and managed by the group. The Knight Riders Group also owns various other franchise teams, such as the Abu Dhabi Knight Riders (ADKR) in the UAE's flagship T20 series. They are also the owners of the Trinbago Knight Riders (TKR) in the Caribbean Premier League (CPL) and the Los Angeles Knight Riders in Major League Cricket in the USA.

Dey states that teams within the Knights universe hold a leading position in social media and engagement.

As Dey mentions, The Knights App is a comprehensive platform for fans of the Knights worldwide, with the current focus on continuous content updates on the app.

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