We’ve seen massive advertiser pull for Aussie-England series: Neville Bastawalla

Sports fans have had a disappointing time during the lockdown period with no live sports events taking place. However, in the last couple of months, we have seen international football bringing in much cheer, and now with the Indian Premier League (IPL) slated to begin in September, cricketing action will begin in all earnest for Indian sports lovers.

Sporting leagues are resuming action all around and fans now have something to look out for, especially in the realm of sports like Cricket and Football. Besides, the US Open is currently on as well.

Further focussing on true love for cricket and revisiting the fact that ‘Love For Cricket Knows No Boundaries’, Sony Sports Pictures Network has launched a new campaign – ‘Asli Fan Ke Liye’ – for the forthcoming Australia’s Tour of England. The campaign consists of two films, which showcase Real vs Fake fans in real life situations, where it is communicated that to be a Real Fan, you need to follow the great sport cricketers no matter which team is playing.


In conversation with Adgully, Neville Bastawalla, Head - Marketing & On-Air Promotions, Sports Channels, Sony Pictures Networks India, takes a deep dive into the details of the campaign, their digital efforts and also how the overall sports genre is looking for better times post the lockdown.

Tell us about the thought and ideation behind the ‘Asli Fans Ke Liye’ campaign.

We have continued with the thought of true love for cricket that we’d focused on even with the ‘Charles Rao’ film last year. There are true lovers of cricket and for them the love for the sport knows no boundaries. For them, it isn’t about India matches or a particular cricketer, they will watch and follow the sport no matter what. As you may recall, the ‘Charles Rao’ film showcased a blind man, who is a big fan of ex-Australian cricketer Shane Warne. We focused on how to create a provocative communication that will arouse the love of cricket in fans’ hearts.

‘Asli Cricket Fan’ is an in-house campaign, which further brings out the conversation of true love for cricket. A true fan will follow the sport ball by ball and won’t focus on the country. We focussed on making the communication provocative, which makes it more impactful and results in the desired response in the market.

What was the process behind shooting this campaign keeping in mind the social distancing norms to be followed?

Everything was done in-house. We got Boot Polissh Films on board and we put together everything with all safety standards. We followed all guidelines like social distancing, we had the Oxymeter, the crew was very small and we asked everyone to carry food from home and also in their cars and maintain sanitization.

With a very small crew, we finished the shooting within a day’s time.

Have you planned any other initiatives along with the campaign to promote Australia’s Tour of England?

TV and Digital are big for us. Along with the campaign, we will also launch the ‘Asli Cricket Fan’ contest, wherein the winner will get an actual cricket bat signed by the English team.

As part of the contest, we shot very simple videos on Zoom with the in-house team, where there is a banter between the Real and Fake fans. Here, the audience needs to spot who’s a real fan and who’s a fake one and reach out to us on social media or WhatsApp with the correct answer. This will be a very relatable campaign.

The overall sports genre has seen a decline during the lockdown. What is your observation of the overall sports consumption during the lockdown period?

For us, the England Vs West Indies test series saw a 200 per cent growth as compared to any other non-India series. Even football saw the ratings more than double for some matches of UEFA Champions League & FA Cup.

What is the kind of advertiser pull are you seeing for sports and Australia’s Tour of England?

We’ve seen a massive advertiser pull for this series, which was more than any other non-India series ever before. The list of sponsors is huge, which includes, My 11 Circle, Skoda, HDFC Life, Maruti Suzuki and many more. We will be having even more brands soon joining this list.

What are the other sporting events coming up on your channel and how are you looking to create a buzz around them?

Once the IPL is over, we will be having India’s Tour of Australia on Sony Sports in December and January.

We have WWE coming up very aggressively too. WWE have just launched Thunder Dome, where the audience registers and participates from their home and they will be shown on the big screen.

On Ten 3, WWE has gone completely Hindi, too, which has never been done before. On Ten 1 it will still be English.

We will be having the live matches from UFC telecast. We have seen a good growth for UFC on our channel and the time spent is very high. We are looking to grow out the UFC pie.

In football, we will be having the Serie A happening in September. For the first time in the Seria A, Juventus aren’t looking too strong to win the league again for the 10th time in a row. So, we are building on who will replace the champions.

UEFA Champions League will be aired too. Even the NBA season will be completed on our channel.


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