MUMBAI: The ballroom in the five star hotel was packed with journalists, jostling for space. The lights were dimmed. Toddlers waddle in cutely with white blossoms in their hands. They distribute a flower each to the scribes present there - the fragrance of peace travels all across the ballroom.A tall Sikh gentleman is escorted onto the stage, the LED backdrop lights up. Inscribed on the LED wall were the words: Ek India...Happywala.
And as the lights gradually come on, they reveal the turbaned gentleman. He is none other than Sony Pictures Networks (SPN )- erstwhile known as Multi Screen Media (MSM) - CEO NP Singh. And what just happened was the unveiling of the 2016 campaign of India's longest short format league - the Indian Premier League which annually captures the hearts and minds of cricket crazy India.
Sony Max and Sony Max2 senior executive vice president Neeraj Vyas follows Singh on the stage, and without any hemming and hawing proudly announces: "The biggest brand of the country cannot stay away from the mood of the country.
And that exactly underlines the campaign's central theme: unity, harmony and happiness are the three pillars on which the entire Ek India....Happywala (One happy India) is based.
The 60 second TVC reflects on the ongoing intolerance brouhaha in the country and shows how cricket and IPL can help things turn around positively.
The film starts with greyscale still images of a rickshaw driver getting a thrashing, a horrified inked man and two youth battling it out with a hockey stick each in their hands.
The images move to color showing a youth engaged in vandalising a yellow taxi. A cricket ball lands at his feet and then follow a group of young kids asking for the ball. He stops smashing up the cab and joins the young ones in their game.
That's the power of the IPL and that's what exactly the campaign wants to communicate.
The strong message is complemented by Salim and Sulaiman's touchy background score.
"Sonal Dabral and his DDB Mudra team created the campaign for us, they did it last year too. We have also kept the same creators when it comes to music and if you see there is not much of a difference from our last year's campaign India Ka Tyohaar. IPL is a catalyst that unites the nation and thats what the campaign communicates" explains Vyas.
The campaign has already rolled out digitally and soon will mark its presence on television.
TV will remain the most spent medium when it comes to marketing as per Vyas' assessment. "50 per cent of the spends will go on TV whereas the remaining 50 per cent will be spent on radio, digital and print" he adds.
The campaign will have dubbed versions for the regional markets with the outdoors in key HSM markets providing recall support..
"HSM plays a vital role when it comes to the ratings and hence our key focus will be on that market. But the initiatives that we launch will cater to pan India audiences as IPL is popular in every nook and corner. Radio will see a lot of jingles while interactive campaign will orchestrate the digital media initiatives" asserts Vyas.
The campaign push and strategy will depend on the ICC T20 World Cup and India's performance in the tournament.
"The cricketing mood will be determined by team India's performance. So we will have to wait, watch, asses and then strategise. We have our plans chalked out, we will be present on our networks as well as on other networks too," reveals Vyas.
"They have made great use of the generic situations, if you see the car that is broken is a yellow taxi and the man is wearing glasses. It connects you to Bengal where there is an election. The inked man is still fresh in every mind and the music speaks about unity, happiness and equality. You cannot ignore the negatives if you want to portray a positive scenario and hence usage of this scenario is nothing controversial in my opinion. I think it's a good anthem and the smaller videos complement it nicely," says an executive creative director of a reputed creative agency.
"Whatever is done by us will have repercussions on the young children and that is why we have young children all throughout the video. We will perish soon, what matters is the future of the nation, the igniting minds," concludes Vyas.