New Delhi: A month after highlighting the need for gender equality, Tata Tea has launched a new digital campaign with a hard-hitting message on how sports education takes a back seat to academics in the country. Made by advertising agency Mullen Lintas, the over minute long film is a montage of four teenagers going through an intensive schedule of school and tuition.

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The film follows their day-to-day life capturing the immense pressure and stress they undergo to perform well academically. Then their identity is revealed— ‘Abhay, swimmer, retired, age –15’ appears on the screen when the young boy wistfully looks at the framed swimming certificate on a wall.

The other three sportsmen are similarly shown to have retired at this young age to pursue studies. The message the video conveys is: “Don’t let your kids retire early from sports. Pledge to give sports as much importance as academics."

“While parents pay close attention to how well their children perform in mathematics or science, not many know whether their child can comfortably run a 400-metre race. Through this film, we hope to spark a change in our nation’s mindset towards sports education and establish the need to give sports as much importance as academics," said Sushant Dash, regional president (India), Tata Global Beverages.

The ad is part of the second leg of Tata Tea’s campaign, ‘Jaago Re 2.0’, which highlights the need for consumers to act before an untoward event happens.

“Academics edges out sports and as a child reaches pivotal academic years like class 10, sports totally disappears. This led us to put out a campaign that points at the idea that most 14-year-olds who were inclined towards sport tend to prematurely retire from it. We are hoping that a campaign that presents sports dropouts as retired will help up the ante on the importance of sports within the academic system," said Shriram Iyer, president and national creative director, Mullen Lintas.

The digital film is being promoted on the brand’s YouTube channel as well as social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter.

Narayan Devanathan, group executive and strategy officer, Dentsu Brand Agencies India, noted that the campaign blends three key strategies for behaviour change—education, persuasion and policy change. “It attempts to persuade parents, as the key agents of change and to enable this change in their thinking. Along with it, it petitions the government to make this change systemic. Is this ad by itself enough? I doubt it. I just hope the brand continues to promote the cause like with corruption or voter apathy, because sports education will need years of commitment before positive change happens," he said.

Devanathan is quick to note that the film coincides with the recent announcement by Prime Minister Narendra Modi to launch a national sports talent search portal. “A good boost to the brand’s efforts just by being there at the right time and place," he said.

Binodan Sarma, deputy general manager–digital, Cheil India, says, that the music and set-up of the campaign reminded him of a popular track ‘Jame Raho’ from the Aamir Khan film ‘Taare Zameen Par’ which traces the journey of a dyslexic child who cannot perform well academically. To him, the campaign’s premise of ‘rising stars retiring early’ is quite interesting.

“However, I think that the storytelling would have been stronger if the data point of the students (dropping out of sports) offered was real. Being a digital film, the strong and relevant message should help it to garner shares and organic likes. I will be interested to know how they plan to leverage this communication in a medium like Facebook where attention span for a video is not more than three to five seconds," he added.