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MPL’s #FanBannJaaoge Olympics campaign gains huge traction on digital media

MPL Sports Foundation is the community arm of Mobile Premier League (MPL), India’s largest esports and skill gaming platform which has around 60+ games for their audiences covering all the kinds of games. The skill gaming platform has a range of 75 million users over three countries in the three years of its journey. Within three months of its launch, MPL entered the Indonesian market and soon became the market leader there.

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Along with expanding its markets internationally, MPL also conducts Esports tournaments in India on a larger scale, with the largest tournament being the College Premiere League, which attracts a large number of people to play real life games online.

In a bid to whip up frenzy around the Tokyo Olympics 2020, MPL rolled out the #FanBannJaaoge campaign, a first-of-its-kind initiative to create and cultivate fans for the Indian Olympians. The campaign aimed to inspire people to not just celebrate India’s athletes every time they bring home a medal, but also to follow their journey and support them throughout the way. This was part of a nationwide fan campaign to rally the 1.3 billion Indians to become fans of the Indian contingent at the 2020 Tokyo Summer Olympics.

In an exclusive interview with Adgully, Senjam Raj Sekhar, Head of Global Communications, MPL, speaks about the various initiatives taken by MPL for the Tokyo Olympics 2020, the objective behind the #FanBannJaaoge campaign, gaming sector to boost the brand presence amid the pandemic, media & marketing strategies to engage with the users on their platform and a lot more.

How did you come up with the idea of #FanBannJaaoge campaign and what’s the objective here?

What the athletes of the Indian Olympics team miss is a large fan base. People usually follow sports and then lose interest after a period of time, but MPL didn’t really want them to continue with this act. Just like Cricket Associations have a significant fan base, Football has a huge fan base, similarly we decided to create a fan base for the Indian Olympians, which will stay unconditionally regardless of whether the athletes win or lose at the Olympics. What MPL noticed is that people haven’t become fans of the Indian Olympians because the stories of these players are yet untold. The stories behind such wonderful inspirations like Mirabai Chanu, Neeraj Chopra and a lot of them have to come out to the people.

Thus, MPL came up with the idea of #FanBannJaaoge campaign, where we highlighted these untold stories of all the athletes via social media, tied up with Humans of Bombay to produce a series of stories on our Olympians detailing their personal journey and their experience at the Games this year. Humans of Bombay is one platform that tells stories from a human perspective and MPL was pretty successful in getting these young inspirations on Humans of Bombay. When Mirabai Chanu won India’s first medal at the Tokyo Olympics 2020, people were more interested in knowing her story and turned to the official page, WhatsApp and other social media platforms.

Since we had only a month to set up this whole campaign, MPL reached out to all the Club Associations and organisations across the country, asking them to join us and do something for the Indian Olympic fan army. A lot of them showed interest and joined this movement, including Shillong Lajong FC, Cricket Fauj, The Real Kashmir, Gokulam Kerala, KKR, United Table Tennis and many others. We were able to create a 31-million strong ground force. Along with MPL’s user base of 75 million, this fan army is now over 100 million Indians passionately cheering for India and Indian athletes.

We also collaborated with decorated sand artist Sudarsan Pattnaik, who joined the Fan Army with his unique tribute, where he continued creating sand art after the first day of Tokyo Olympics 2020 to pay tribute to our Indian athletes. MPL also collaborated with MX TakaTak and Moj to reach all the small towns and rural areas, where we got a huge traction from all over the world and especially from the winners’ hometowns. In the middle of this campaign with MX TakaTak, we decided to run a campaign on the platform to find India’s biggest fan. The winner will get a chance to go to the 2022 Birmingham Commonwealth Games and cheer for the Indian team at the Games. The contest got 430-plus million views.

There were 25 Indian players who won at the Tokyo Olympics 2020, but there were also 103 athletes who were returning without any wins. So, to felicitate these 103 athletes, MPL decided to honour them with 103 campaigns highlighting that they won more hearts. When the #FannBanJaoge campaign concluded, people started a trend of #FannBanChuke and #FannBanGaye on Twitter and we marked the campaign to be a huge success. 

MPL roped in brands like Center Fresh, Inox, Truecaller and Mentos and partnered with them for the Twitter campaign. Could you share more insights and your thoughts behind this campaign?

The Fan Army was not just about people or clubs, we wanted all the brands to be a part of this movement and thus, MPL reached out to a whole lot of brands, who were very receptive to join us in this campaign. The brands were given a chance to pick up their favourite athletes and run the campaign on their social media sites with hashtags.

Our objective for this campaign was very clear and it didn’t resemble any marketing or business or PR objective. MPL has kept a longer term vision to be the esports platform across the world. We want a mixed bunch of players from different countries like India, Indonesia, US to play tournaments on our platform and, therefore, the partnerships that we have formed are aimed at supporting and also making people aware about the different sports like javelin, weightlifting, etc. Through this campaign we were able to revive a huge amount of interest in hockey. The official Twitter handle of the International Olympics Committee had tweeted, “We are hearing your cheers in Tokyo”. Thus, this campaign can be measured as a huge success for Indian Olympics and for MPL. 

Your approach in social media for the #FanBannJaaoge campaign has been different. You also roped in well-known Bollywood celebrities to push the momentum. How impactful and effective was this campaign and what kind of results did you achieve?

The good part about MPL is that we are a gaming platform with 60 games in it. Any user that comes and visits our platform has a chance to jump from one game to another and this is how they are able to spend a good amount of hours on the same platform with a variety of games included. Whether they want to play fantasy, shooting, chess or any other game, it helps us to build a deeper engagement with our users.

The #FanBannJaaoge campaign was a truly boundaryless campaign and one cannot give it a name. We got all elements of advertising, PR, marketing, social, digital and a lot of these content was put together by our creative agency team.  To further amplify the message and reach more people, the foundation also partnered with popular personalities such as Vidya Balan, Vicky Kaushal, Sonu Sood, Rahul Bose, and Gul Panag, who became fans of our Olympians and took to social media to show their love and fandom. 

Partnerships and collaborations have been a major part of MPL’s strategy. Could you tell us more about it?

MPL has always believed that Esports is an inclusive tournament, where anyone in India or anywhere in the world with access to a smartphone can play. The good part is that Esports is now recognised at the Olympics and Asian Games levels. The Olympics virtual series had virtual versions of MPL’s regular traditional games, where MPL also entered into a long-term partnership with the Indian Olympics Association not just for the sake of partnering, but getting involved in it for strategic interest. We have also partnered with them as a sponsor of Asian Games 2022 and CommonWealth Games 2022 at Birmingham. MPL is also the apparel partner for the Indian Cricket team’s jersey and also for the Indian team at the Asian Games and CommonWealth Games. The reason behind these partnerships is that MPL believes in encouraging all kinds of sports – be it cricket, football, archery or any other sports, and the second reason is that Indians have a tremendous potential to become an esports winner.

Prior to the tie-up with the Indian Olympics Association, MPL had also partnered with the National Rifle Association of India to develop a real life shooter game on the online gaming platform.

Watch the entire interview below :

(Edited by Shanta Saikia.)

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