Building relevance through localisation is our focus: Neville Bastawalla

Ever heard of a blind Indian cricket fan who follows Shane Warne extensively? His name is Charles Rao and is featuring in Sony Pictures Sports Network’s latest campaign “Love for cricket knows no boundaries.” It is always said that cricket is much more than just a sport in India and Sony Sports has leveraged the same insight for this campaign. The film captures Charles Rao’s heartwarming story for the passion and love for cricket and his favourite player. 

It begins with Charles narrating when he saw Shane Warne bowling for the first time and describes how he loved the bowling action. It then cuts to him talking about losing his vision in 2001. However that did not stop him from being a fan of Australia because of Shane Warne and more importantly, a huge fan of cricket. Even after losing his vision, Charles still continues to follows his favourite team and sport. 

Raghu Bhat
Raghu Bhat

Talking about the creative brief, Raghu Bhat, Co-Founder & Copywriter, Scarecrow M&C Saatchi, said, “There is so much cricket happening on television, the idea was to dominate the conversations on cricket that happen in this country. With events like IPL happening, the entire country talks about cricket and Sony Sports wants to be at the heart of it. In order to do that, as a brand we wanted to build an emotional connect with the people who are cricket fan and really follow the sport. We didn’t want to make it depend on a certain event like an IPL or any other series. We wanted to create something that is related to cricket but also transcends it.” 

Cricket is really a religion in India. It involves many emotions as people across the nation love the sport. Through the years, the sport has given many memorable memories to Indian cricket fan right from Yuvraj Singh’s six sixes right to Dhoni’s World Cup winning six. Sony Sports looks to promote non-India matches by leveraging the love of a cricket fan has for the sport regardless of which team is playing. 

Neville Bastawalla, Head - Marketing & On-Air Promotions, Sports Business, Sony Pictures Networks India, said, “We are building this over a period of time and are targeting every cricket fan who really loves the sport. We want to build on the idea of “Love for cricket has no boundaries”. If you love cricket, you would love to watch all the big matches.” 

Normally, a cricket series is promoted on television by showcasing the best players, their best moments or it sometimes riles up the rivalry between the two teams. This time, Sony Sports has taken a more emotional route with a storytelling format and also leverages the non-India matches for cricket lover nationwide. Bastawalla elaborated, “The entire communication has been that India is a cricket loving country with fans loving the game so much that they will do things out of the ordinary for the love of the sport. We are trying to add the entertainment quotient to cricket. We cracked the tagline in-house, that cricket has no boundaries, in the month of March and April. However, we have the largest cricketing series coming our way like the Big Bash league, New Zealand tour of Australia, etc. We found this as the perfect time to come out with this idea for these series.” 

There are many fans across the world who love cricket unlike any other person. Their love crosses all boundaries, which is specifically seen in a fan like Sudhir Kumar Choudhary, who is famous for being a Sachin Tendulkar fan and is often seen with his body painted in the Tricolour, waving the Indian flag. 

Talking about the selection process for Charles Rao, Bastawalla said, “Through our marketing research, we meet a lot of cricket fans. With Scarecrow, we went through a regular process of auditioning; when we found Charles Rao, we realised that he fit the requirement beautifully. We had made the script first and then Charles read out the script among many other contenders. This is just the first of many creative we have made for this campaign. We will be exploring different routes in the coming months through this campaign.” 

Other than cricket, Sony Sports has also focused on promoting international sports. Their portfolio includes Football, Tennis, Wrestling and Mix Martial Arts. However, most of the country tunes in during the peak cricket season. To massify other sports, Bastawalla talks about Sony’s strategy, saying, “Basically, we need to look into building relevance through localization. We need to give reasons to the viewers through our different campaigns to watch a particular league or sport. These are all world class sports and great entertainment. The focus is to get the people involved who weren’t watching the sport before and tell them the story of the sport or league which will get them to watch it. We want to build relevance through this. For UEFA champions league, we had #SonaManaHai campaign, which communicated to the viewer that how can they sleep when such high impact and quality football is being showcased.” 

The year 2020 is going to be an action-packed sports year, especially with the Olympics and Euro 2020 taking place. Talking about the plans for 2020, Bastawala mentioned, “Overall, we are on a different level for 2020. We have a lot of cricket coming next year, including India’s tour of Australia next December. We also have the Euro 2020 and then the Olympics. Adding to the list, we also have UFC, WWE, UEFA Champions League, Seria A, an Italian football league. We have an exciting year forward with a lot of content and entertainment for the viewer. More emotions through our communication is the main focus for our creatives and campaigns.” 

These sports will not only provide entertainment for the public, but will also allow kids to be motivated to play sports other than cricket, which could eventually result in the growth of the number of athletes in the nation.


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