New Delhi: A saas-bahu face-off is the last thing you will associate with the game of Kabaddi. However, Star Sports’ latest Pro-Kabaddi League’s (PKL) promo has pitted the two against each other. From over-dilated pupils to dramatic voice-overs, the campaign reminds us of quintessential television soaps and also manages to mock Star’s competitor Colors’s popular show Naagin. The show concluded recently.
Created by Star’s internal team, the video features a newly married Bengali bride being welcomed by her mother-in-law. As she enters the house, the mother-in-law seems to have already hatched a plan for her ouster by keeping a snake in the newly-wed couple’s wardrobe. Little does she know that the young bride is a ‘Naagin’ (female snake) herself! The promo ends with “Don’t watch fake, asli panga dekh”, urging viewers to watch the sporting bonanza starting 25 June.
“The campaign communication for Season 4 of Star Sports Pro-Kabaddi is focused on showcasing the intense and relentless action that the sport provides. In a tongue-in-cheek manner, the attributes of kabaddi have been juxtaposed against narratives from other competitive viewing genres, culminating in a call to action for kabaddi—Don’t watch fake, asli panga dekh,” said a Star India spokesperson on the broad theme of the Season 4 campaign.
Responding to the Naagin promo, Raj Nayak, chief executive officer (CEO), Colors, said, “I haven’t seen the promo, but if the channel is using such a promo, we feel good. When competition reacts, that means our Naagin matters.”
Uploaded on Star Sports official YouTube channel on 4 June, the promo has garnered over one lakh views so far. On Facebook, the video has over one million views. Star Sports is airing the promo across television channels. Before the current promo, the channel also released a campaign taking a dig at the way television news shows are being produced. The channel declined to divulge its spend on the Kabbadi promos.
Creative experts believe that while the theme (of taking a dig at sitcoms and news shows) might be jaded, these promos will do their job of positioning Kabaddi League as an entertainment property.
Jagdish Acharya, founder and creative head, Cut The Crap, finds that while the ‘Le Panga’ campaign’s strategy is good (positioning it as an entertainment property), the ads are not as quirky and humorous as they were in its previous seasons.
“That’s also because numerous parodies have happened on saas-bahu sitcoms and Arnabesque news shows. But the campaign should do its job of holding attention and pitching kabaddi as an entertainment show not just a sports show. And that is good strategy. What helps is the fact that the product is transient. Creative objective is to stay top-of-mind for a brief period only. You don’t need to remember Kabaddi after the tournament,” he said.
Arijit Gupta, creative head—art, FCB Ulka Delhi, is unable to find a connect between the oft-repeated saas-bahu theme and kabaddi. “Why Naagin?” he asked. Probably Star tried to be disruptive but it didn’t really brings out the essence of the game, he said. “There has been a lot of advertising around the slapstick saas-bahu theme. The concept is not new,” Gupta notes.
For the record, Pro-Kabaddi League’s Season 1 creative mandate was awarded to Ogilvy. Ever since Star Sports’s internal team has been taking care of the campaigns, except for a Season 2 promotional anthem which was written by ad guru Piyush Pandey and sung by Amitabh Bachchan.
Started in 2014, Pro-Kabaddi League (PKL) turned the centuries-old sport of kabaddi into a lucrative sporting property. The league was designed as a franchise system that had eight teams and 96 players (26 international ones) in closed arenas. Star India became the league’s official broadcaster and also its majority stakeholder.
The previous PKL Season 3 had advertisers such as Bajaj Electricals, TVS Motors, Flipkart and SBI renewing their deals. While it saw participation of five new sponsors—Gionee Mobiles and Idea as associate sponsors, Fair & Lovely Men’s Face Wash, Indo Nissin and PepsiCo as partners.