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A hard look at the Vivo IPL 2019 campaigns so far

Since its inaugural season, the Indian Premier League (IPL) has been as much about T20 cricket carnival as its campaigns whipping up fan frenzy. Over the years, the IPL creative campaigns have highlighted the ‘Tyohaar’ aspect of the tournament and celebrated Indians’ craze for cricket. In the process every campaign saw huge traction with the audience, which continued even when the IPL rights moved from Sony to Star. 

Star India took the stakes even higher with its ‘Best vs Best’ campaign for IPL 2018. For the first time, Star introduced a strong regional element to its IPL campaign in 2018 with the Bundelkhandi “Kaun Jeetego?”, Tamil “Yāru Jeyippāṅga?”, Malayalam “Aaru Jayikkum?”, Kannada “Yaaru Gelluttaare?” and Telugu “Evaru Gelustharu?”. 

Star’s campaign for Vivo IP 2019 – ‘Game Banayega Name’ – talks about individualistic achievements. It is for first time that the spirit of the IPL reflects the idea of seniors mentoring youngsters to eventually pave the future for them; it is the generosity of spirit that overtakes individuals in the latest IPL campaign stories where people are subservient to the game. 

However, the reactions to the 2019 campaigns have been mixed, with many stating that campaigns lack the fervour of the previous campaigns and have not resonated that well with the audience as the earlier campaigns. 

Sharing his insights, Naresh Gupta, CSO and Managing Partner, Bang in the Middle, observed, “There is a clear shift in strategy for IPL by Star. Sony built IPL as a property that was festive, fun, and full of energy and something that the whole country looked up to. This year’s campaign is about the sport, and how it lets ordinary sports people to play with superstars. It’s not an easy switch to make. IPL is a lot more festive and appeals to non-puritan cricket fans too. They watch it large numbers because they find IPL easier to consume than the average cricket viewer. Having built an inclusive appeal, to move back to serious game is neither easy, nor short term.” 

The interesting part is that the broadcaster has used the campaign it had created for the inaugural match between Mumbai Indians (MI) and Chennai Super Kings (CSK) in 2018. Both the teams are ready to face each other in their April 3 clash and Star India is running the same campaign across its network channels. 

Communications consultant on digital/ social media marketing and PR Karthik Srinivasan is not surprised on the reuse of the Chennai Super Kings Vs Mumbai Indians film from last year. In fact, he said, “I won’t be surprised if they reuse more films, where the players featured are in the same teams. It makes a lot of sense since the core message is the same, as is the title sponsor.” 

May be the film was so successful that they didn’t need to shoot a new one can also be one of the reasons. The narrative of this campaign created by the Star Sports creative team rekindles the greatest rivalry of IPL between Mumbai Indians and Chennai Super Kings, which amongst them have won six IPL trophies out of the total 11 IPL tournaments organised so far. The campaign drives a gritty face-off between Mumbai Indians and Chennai Super Kings. 

“I really liked last year’s Best vs Best launch anthem for IPL 2018 (Yeh khel hai veer jawaano ka). It had a very strong vibe, using a very rousing tune (a song from old Hindi classic ‘Naya Daur’). That was by Ogilvy. I do miss an anthem, however. The anthem was a significant part of IPL in the previous years and it is strange that Star dropped it this year,” Srinivasan added. 

However, the campaigns notwithstanding, Season 12 of Vivo IPL has not witnessed any decline in its viewership; on the contrary the eyeballs are increasing in multiple folds. The network reached 219 million TV viewers across India (urban+rural, TV and out of home) for the first three matches, registering a 31 per cent jump over previous year, according to BARC PreView Data. 

Gupta personally would have liked IPL to be a brand that’s not so serious and more about getting people to enjoy the game. Its early days for the campaign and to know how it will connect with fans of IPL going forward into the tournament. “Though I would think that the face-off videos that IPL has done this year will resonate far more than the theme song. The face-off videos are more in the IPL tonality that the brand has created over the years,” he added. 

‘Game Banayega Name’ is the first campaign in which players from all teams were shot for a single TVC. It is for the first time that battle lines were drawn between teammates and not between teams. And it is for first time that the spirit of the IPL reflects the idea of seniors mentoring youngsters to eventually pave the future for them; it is the generosity of spirit that overtakes individuals in the latest IPL campaign stories where people are subservient to the game.

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