Star Sports: The marketing hype, the gameplan

MUMBAI: Do it in style. Do it big. That's what big brands do. And Star India has taken the same tack during the ongoing relaunch of the erstwhile ESPN-Star Sports channels under the new brand of Star Sports. It has kept aside a marketing war chest of an estimated Rs 10 crore to start with for the comprehensive campaign called ‘Believe’ to spread awareness about the brand identity of Star Sports and its six channels.

To make the message more believable, it has roped in India's talented cricket captain M S Dhoni as Believe’s first ambassador. And the attempt of the campaign is to outline the beliefs that have made him one of the most iconic heroes of our time and to link the fact that Star Sports brings these very champions to TV screens.

Our aim is to make 'Star Sports' one of the most iconic sports brands in the world, says Gayatri Yadav

Then there is Navjot Sidhu. Cricket lovers and fans are more than familiar with the extremely entertaining former Test cricketer and now TV personality Navjot Singh Sidhu. The funny Sikh features in a TV commercial stating “Joh baat Hindi mein hai, kissi aur mein nahin” promoting India's first 24x7 Hindi sports channel Star Sports 3.

Exults Star India executive vice president marketing and communications Gayatri Yadav: “Our aim is to make ‘Star Sports’ one of the most iconic sports brands in the world. The campaign is based on a core insight that consumers are searching for hero moments in their life. They want to strive for better and realize their own potential for greatness. Our belief is that everyone can take part and share in greatness. We can all be inspired. The mission is to bring the fan closer to heroes than ever before. Our aim is to inspire the hero in you.”

A massive print road block on 6 November in editions of national newspapers such as The Times of India, The Hindu, Dainik Jagran, Navbharat Times, Maharashtra Times, Nai Duniya saw political and general news being relegated to the inside pages while sports news took over the front page. “The thought was: let's imagine a world where sports comes first,” says Yadav.


This thought was taken forward on electronic news with Aaj Tak where Star Sports came first on news bulletin logo stings and anchors wore Star Sports branded T-shirts. The two promos featuring Dhoni and Sidhu are getting tremendous air play across all of Star India’s 33 channels.

On the online and digital front, the home pages of MSN and Yahoo networks had a splash of only sports news; there was none of the general, political and entertainment buzz. A very strong engagement with YouTube subscribers wherein every video watched in India on that day had a pre-roll of the Believe promo. YouTube’s mobile app had a Star Sports promotional banner slapped on. Facebookers were greeted with a digital banner of Dhoni and Star Sports every time they logged out.

Yadav says that the massive digital burst activity resulted in the new look generating close to 15 million views on day one itself.

On the out of home front, hoardings sprang up in Mumbai and Delhi to  coincide with the ongoing Star Sports ‘Believe’ India vs West Indies cricket series. Four digital screens put up at terminal 3 of Chattrapati Shivaji Terminus Airport in Mumbai.

Says Yadav: “We want to create a brand that breaks the rules, a brand that looks, speaks, sounds, behaves like no other in the TV space.”

If one goes, by the buzz that’s been generated amongst sports TV fans and the janta about the new Star Sports brand, it appears that she and her team have succeeded - to a large extent.

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