MUMBAI: They are a bunch of five well built and unruly boys. At first glance they will easily pass off as bullies. Lazing around near the school entrance they try to find a target and zero down on a small scrawny lad. Busy hugging a glass bottle filled with the choicest cookies, the lad is soon surrounded by the mini-thugs. Trying hard to sneak away, the poor boy mutters beneath his breath and in single leap jumps through the coterie of boys thanks to one of India's oldest sports - Kabaddi! A booming voice then announces that life too is just like the desi game where winners are those who choose to go on, not giving up.
This isn’t a short film but a TVC created ahead of the Pro Kabaddi League (PKL). The core thought of the campaign is ‘Jeet Te Hain Wahin Jo Haar Nahin Mantey’. Thanks to the initiative of corporate biggie Anand Mahindra, through his company Mashal Sports (he is the co promoter along with commentator and his brother in law Charu Sharma) and broadcaster Star Sports, the historic game is finally getting its due. The PKL has the patronage of the International Kabaddi Federation, Asian Kabaddi Federation and Amateur Kabaddi Federation of India.
On Star’s association with the league, Star India head of sports business Nitin Kukreja says, “We are very excited with the league coming up. It is a game that is to be seen and experienced. We have a great on and off ground campaign that is taking place to promote the game. We will use the best production values for the game.”
It had similarly taken up the challenge of promoting the game of Hockey through Hero Hockey India League earlier in 2014.
The 60 match tournament will be telecast during prime time on Star Sports 2, Star Sports 2 HD, Star Gold and starsports.com with commentary both in English and Hindi.
Initially 10 second teasers were launched with power packed visuals of the games and the tagline #Guessthegame. More than 15 TVCs including teasers, mini reveals and the thematic campaigns, created by Ogilvy & Mather, are being promoted across all channels of Star Network and starsports.com. The network has also roped in Bollywood star Salman Khan in one of them, a co-promotion for his film Kick.
The campaign is targeted at the eight franchise cities of Mumbai, Kolkata, Delhi, Patna, Pune, Vizag, Jaipur and Bengaluru. Hoardings have been extensively used to drive the league visibility in all these cities. The PKL has booked spots on FM radio stations such as Radio Mirchi and others for the radio campaign which features an anthem composed by Dhruv Ghanekar.
While Kyazoonga is the online ticketing partner for Kolkata, Delhi, Jaipur, Bengaluru and Pune, Bookmyshow is the partner for Mumbai and Patna.
On the digital front, Star says it will be live-streaming the league on starsports.com. The #JeetegaWahi campaign held on 18 July was trending at number one in India, claims the channel. Since then, there have been contests for online fans, which have also sought to demystify the rules of the game.
A prominent media planner said that advertisers had yet to be finalised for the first season, at the time of writing. He says advertisers will be playing a wait and watch game to see how the league takes shape. Advertising interest will be propelled post the league, he adds.
Unilazer Sports CEO Supratik Sen which owns the U-Mumbai team when speaking to indiantelevision.com says, “We have a certain level of expectation from advertisers. We will come up with a strong base price during the second season of the league.”
Leading corporate companies and individuals have ended up owning the eight franchises. They are: Kosmik Global Media for Bengaluru, Kalpathi Investments for Chennai, Rana Kapoor of Yes Bank for Delhi, Abhishek Bachchan for Jaipur, Kishore Biyani of Future Group for Kolkata, Ronnie Screwvala, Unilazer Sports for Mumbai, Uday Kotak of Kotak Mahindra Bank for Pune and Core Green Group for Vizag.
As reported earlier by indiantelevision.com, each of the franchise will have to shell out anywhere between Rs 4 crore to Rs 5 crore annually including a nominal franchise fee. During the auction, the pool cap for each of the teams was Rs 60 lakh. Patna Pirates bagged the costliest player for this season in Rakesh Kumar for Rs 12.80 lakh. The prize money for the league meanwhile is Rs 1 crore.
Mashal Sports will keep 80 per cent of the revenue from the central pool with the eight franchises. Marketing partner World Sport Group will receive 10 per cent, while the remaining 10 per cent will be retained by Mashal Sports for organising the league. It is estimated that Mashal Sports will incur an annual expenditure of Rs 10 crore to Rs 15 crore.
With one day to go before the league kicks off in Mumbai, one hopes that Indian audiences who have been chanting Dhoni Dhoni or Sachin Sachin will start muttering Kabaddi, Kabaddi, while watching what we believe promises to be an exciting first season for a sport which most of us have at sometime or the other played.