Sony pushes for a happy India in IPL campaign

The campaign, Ek India Happywala, created by DDB Mudra Group’s Mumbai office, kicked off with an anthem early last week


A file photo of Kolkata Knight Riders celebrating after winning the Pepsi IPL 2014 final match. Sony believes that IPL has the ability to bring people together in India. Photo: Hindustan Times
A file photo of Kolkata Knight Riders celebrating after winning the Pepsi IPL 2014 final match. Sony believes that IPL has the ability to bring people together in India. Photo: Hindustan Times

Mumbai: It is ambitious, but broadcaster Sony Pictures Networks India (SPNI) is hoping that its advertising campaign for the ninth edition of the Indian Premier League (IPL) will hit home with its call for ‘Ek India Happywala’.

The campaign, created by DDB Mudra Group’s Mumbai office, kicked off with an anthem early last week. The anthem is to be followed up with several short television commercials that were unveiled in Mumbai on Wednesday.

The anthem holds up a mirror to society at large with black and white montages reflecting rioting mobs, road rage and angry crowds.

But just when you think that hatred and anger will get the better of them, a wave of young, happy children moves in to defuse the situation. They urge the rioters using hockey sticks to wreck cars to pass their cricket ball back to them and join their game. Or throw a fistful of gulaal at the goon waiting to blacken someone’s face and ask him to play holi with them. They urge people to shout to celebrate a win, rather than roar with hatred and anger.

“We had already been through a gamut of emotions (through our advertising campaigns each year) with the whole fun, dance and song routine. This year, as an iconic brand, we could not be removed from the mood of the nation. If the IPL has the ability to bring people together and be a catalyst that binds them and urges them to celebrate together, then the brand should do what it can to bring India together. To create a liberated country that is happy and positive rather than one that is bogged down with fear and hatred,” said Neeraj Vyas, senior executive vice president and business head, Sony MAX cluster, SPNI.

To be sure, the short commercial films are also based on the premise of the anthem—urging the country to be positive and be happy. One commercial for instance, shows a newsroom discussion, where everyone is talking about corruption, violence, riots and scams, and how these events push television ratings. As one person in the room reasons that the riots reflect the reality of India, a woman, who is looking out of the window pensively, watches as the child of a daily wage labourer scales a pile of bricks to watch the telecast of a cricket match in an adjoining society compound. A man from the building notices, and walks determinedly towards him.

The woman cringes expecting him to reprimand the child, but is pleasantly surprised when the man ushers the child inside to watch the match. She turns around and says that the negative aspects of a country need not reflect the reality of India, when the positive aspects can do it beautifully.

“Over the last nine years, we have extensively promoted IPL, not only on television but across other mediums like print, outdoor and digital. Our marketing campaigns have become cultural mnemonics in household conversations. Right from ‘Ek Desh. Ek Junoon’ in 2009 to ‘India Ka Tyohaar’ in 2015. And now, ‘Ek India Happywala’ is our earnest attempt to engage viewers in conversations that will spread cheer to our children, because it is our children who will inherit the world from us,” said N.P. Singh, chief executive officer, SPNI.

SPNI will also host season 10 of the Indian Premier League in 2017, following which the television rights will be up for grabs once again. The company is hoping that this campaign will build a strong association of the channel with the popular T20 tournament.