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The disruptive idea was to be seamless: Karan Shroff, Unacademy

Unacademy has aced the branding game with popular brand campaigns and strategic associations with creators like The Viral Fever and properties like IPL. In less than two years, it has entrenched itself in the hearts and minds of its target audience as one of the most recognizable brands in the edtech space. The brand is now focusing on its core offerings like live classes, access to educators and content to drive conversions.

In conversation with Adgully, Karan Shroff, Chief Marketing Officer, Unacademy, talks about the their IPL campaign 'Kya Hum Live Hai?', strategy around the company’s association with cricket and maximising their IPL association in the coming years.

Watch the campaign films:

What is your broader strategy around cricket and how does it work for the brand in terms of positioning?

The reasons we’ve associated with the sport is because sport and education go hand-in-hand on multiple avenues. Both require focus, sacrifice and a lot of hard work. Sport is a medium to communicate with our learners, also we learnt that a majority of our TG that we operate with consumes a lot of cricket. That’s why we decided to be present on cricket as a brand and communicate our messaging using the sport.

For some students there may be a dichotomy between choosing to play cricket and having fun and choosing to study for exams. How do you reconcile that?

Irrespective of what you choose as a profession or pursue on the career front, the kinds of traits you need to have at an individual level are quite similar. For an exam, you need to prepare extensively, be focused, and make sacrifices. Maybe when people are going out and having fun you’re busing studying and you miss a lot of important social events. Similarly, in sports you work extensively on yourself, by being fit, you need focus, and you need to make sacrifices. We’re talking about those synergies being present consistently on both these different verticals.

Your earlier campaigns like ‘Let’s Crack It’ and ‘Greatest Lesson’ were built on the aspirational and inspirational aspect of an edtech brand. Your first IPL campaign ‘Cracking the Game’ built on the learning aspect with ‘Kya Seekha’. What has been the messaging of the brand this time around?

Our first brand campaign, ‘Let’s Crack it’, was about establishing ourselves as a brand in the ATL space. That was to convey to the masses what we do and who we are as a brand. Now, the brand is well-known from an awareness perspective, so we are communicating what our core offerings are. We want to communicate that we have India’s top educators and that we offer live classes across 100 subjects.

These are stressful times, so we thought if we could make people smile a little and enjoy the campaign, what more could we ask for? I’m very thrilled and happy with the response that we got. The campaign immediately got attention on social media, it drove conversations and we were extremely happy with the response it gave us overall.

From the first campaign to now, Unacademy is a brand that is far more well-known to its audience and far more popular with the student fraternity and hence, we decided to communicate the strengths of the brand and take it up a notch.

Instead of using recognisable faces in cricket, you capitalised on the commentator’s box for your ad films. What was the thought behind the campaign?

The campaign would not have worked if we did not go with the commentators that were involved with the league itself. If you look at the entire setting, the film starts with live footage in the beginning, so you feel like the match has started. Then it cuts to the commentator’s box and we have replicated the look and feel of a real commentary box – right from using all the brands’ logos that are associated with the League. The disruptive part is that it all appears to be a part of the official match, which is what catches your attention. So, you see the same faces that you see in the match, but there is an Unacademy message that pops up. The entire intent was to be seamless, clutter breaking, quirky and deliver the message. Keeping all those parameters in mind, we said it’s okay not to use a sportsman like Sachin Tendulkar and go by this route.

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