Star Sports successfully launches Picture in Picture ad format during Roland Garros

The picture in picture ad solution is winning praise from brands, media observers and fans.

MUMBAI: The date: 10 June 2021. The event: the first of the women’s semi-finals of the French Open between two debutantes Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova and Tamara Zidansek. The channel: Star Sports. The Russian seeded 31 in the world has just lost her first game to her competitor from Slovenia and the latter walks to her chair by the side of the court. 


Tennis fans glued to their television at home are pleasantly surprised to see the appearance on their screens of two windows side by side – one showing Zidanesk as she wipes her racket off court, and the other a car commercial featuring world no 1 Novak Djokovic, followed by Rafael Nadal, and then Roger Federer, intercut with a Renault driving through water, ending with the auto maker’s logo and its association with the French Open telecast on Star Sports. Once, the TVC ends, the two windows give way to the match’s proceedings full screen. 


Welcome to TV advertising innovation in 2021.  And this is one that India’s leading sports broadcaster Star Sports is especially proud of. Called Picture in Picture (PIP), it got a buy-in from car maker Renault India which was the presenting sponsor of the tournament’s telecast.   Put simply, PIP is a non-intrusive technique of playing an advertiser’s marketing commercial during live sports telecasts, when the ball is not in play. Despite not being a natural break, it provides unparalleled commercial stimulus during a live game.


The marketers at Renault India not only took advantage of this first-time asset but they enthusiastically supported it as an extension of their own passion for creating experiences through technology, along with OMD India. Star Sports too pitched in and created a co-branded promo creative to showcase Renault’s brand and its association for a heightened visual treat.


According to Renault India lead marketing communications Hardik Shah, the PIP option works very well for the brand. He was recently quoted in a publication as saying: “It helps break clutter, makes us stand out on live content, and builds association with the product (tennis), which usually is not offered in other premium sports. Though this is a classic advertising route, it puts across the message in a very subtle way without disturbing the audiences. If you have noticed, Renault India has not played a quintessential TVC in the PIP. Rather we chose to air an association promo that strengthens our relationship with Roland Garros and tennis as a sport overall through Star Sports.” The folks at Star Sports – like the druids of old - are constantly brewing up new potions in their AdTech labs in their endeavour to provide advertisers and agencies sticky ad solutions and give them further mileage for their spends on live sports.


Yes, some may say PIP appears highly disruptive; its utilisation makes what many have considered a pipedream a reality: it makes an advertiser’s communication unmissable. It presents to them high-quality attention as viewers’ eyes are bound to stayed glued on the TV screen during the live telecast. To top it all, the team at Star Sports, along with the brand and the agency, works to co-create clutter-breaking custom creatives.

SaysHavas Media CEO Mohit Joshi, a keen sports enthusiast: “We are brand custodians and we are constantly on the lookout for innovations in broadcast commercial advertising which would give us the comfort that spots and communications are indeed being watched by the multi-tasking TV viewer at home. Any innovation which enables this at a cost-effective price is welcome.”

Agrees Indian Television Dot Com founder, CEO & editor in chief, Anil Wanvari who is an avid sports fan. “Overall, it’s a fantastic stickiness generating option that the Star Sports team has innovated. To some extent, TVCs have become a bit of a blind spot for viewers who have been locked at home for the past 16 months. Content and communications coming on a split screen together, will ensure that viewers don’t skip to another channel, and give a better guarantee that the advertiser’s money is well spent in terms of ROI.” 


“Normally, I get irritated when I see commercials breaking up the play on the courts,” says 25-year-old Mumbai-based sports and automobile enthusiast Rohan Ghaneriwal. “I was watching the semi-final match between Nadal and Djokovic when there was this moment when both the court as well as a TVC was running simultaneously on screen. I was quite excited by it, as I wanted to know more about Renault’s car and watch the tennis court as well. I think more and more brands should take this route.”

Indeed, Indian marketers and advertising agencies have a chance to fulfil Rohan’s wish and take advantage of this path breaking first time ad solution in the coming days. Star Sports has made PIP available to them and their brands for the mother of Grand Slams which starts on 28 June – the All England Lawn Tennis Championship at Wimbledon - and during the telecast of the next season of the Premier League. Both of course are premium tournaments and have a loyal cult following with fans swearing by the players vying for the title. 


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