Best vs Best. Tiger vs Tiger.
Star India, BCCI team up for a high decibel campaign for the cricket jamboree.
Urvi Malvania reports.
IMAGE: Actress Jacqueline Fernandez performs during the IPL 9 opening ceremony. Photograph: BCCI
In a first, in a decade of the Indian Premier League, the Board of Cricket Control of India and newly anointed broadcaster Star India have launched a joint campaign for the upcoming 2018 tournament.
Bigger, better and brighter is the promise for IPL Season 11, but beneath the shiny packaging, everything about the tournament is reassuringly familiar.
Naturally so, believe advertising veterans. Why would the broadcaster or the Board want to fix something that is not broken?
The new campaign like many of the past years plays on the drama and the razzmatazz that the tournament has come to be associated with.
For its anthem it dips into an old Bollywood patriotic favourite and the storyline sticks to a familiar pitch where the tournament is seen as the favourite hunting ground of the underdog.
The agency says the campaign that will play across digital, print and television is woven around the theme that this is where the best go up against the best (the concept line for the campaign is Best vs Best).
The idea this year, as it has been in the past several years too, seems to be to reinforce the tournament as a platform where heartening stories of uncapped unknown talent finding recognition, fame and wealth play out on the field and, of course, a screen near you.
There also seems to be an emphasis on the drama around the game, where every match is more than just a clash of the willow and seam.
IMAGE: Mahendra Singh Dhoni's Chennai Super Kings are back in the IPL. Photograph: CSK/Twitter
"Unlike other (cricket) tournaments, the IPL doesn't have favourites as such," Piyush Pandey, chairman and executive director, Ogilvy India, explains. "It has a history of the underdog upsetting the table. All the teams have an equal chance. That's what we mean by best vs best."
As is the practice every year, there is an anthem woven around the campaign this year too.
It is titled Is khel ka yaaron kya kehna (what words can one use to describe such a game) sung to the tune of an old Hindi film chartbuster from Naya Daur.
The song was Yeh desh hai veer jawano ki (this is a country of brave soldiers). The agency note on the campaign says that the team at Ogilvy, led by Sonal Dabral, reimagined the cult patriotic song and rewrote the lyrics to create this year's IPL anthem.
The anthem is being released in five languages: Hindi, Tamil, Bengali, Kannada and Telugu across various platforms.
Ogilvy and Mather (O&M) collaborated with a team comprising South African film-maker Dan Mace, music director Raajeev V Bhalla and vocalist Siddharth Basrur for the campaign.
For a decade now the IPL has steadily raised the noise around the game, spinning it into a carnival-esque affair rather than a competition.
It has also pitched the game as one where nothing plays to script.
Given that this story has worked thus far no broadcaster or organiser wants to upset the narrative and hence this year too, BCCI and Star India (that won the digital and television rights with a phenomenal Rs 163.5 billion bid) are sticking to the tried and tested.
This is the first time since the tournament's launch in 2008 that the governing body of Indian cricket and the broadcast partner have come together for such an exercise. This is also the first year that the IPL will not be on Sony Picture Network India.
IMAGE: Video grab of the campaign.
"The very essence of Vivo IPL is a thrilling, action-packed, celebration of cricket where the best of talent take on each other in one of the most gruelling cricket tournaments in the world," says Sanjay Gupta, managing director, Star India.
"It is a fantastic celebration of both the game and its millions of fans across the world," Gupta adds.
The second phase of the campaign will ask the question 'Who will Win?' as a continuation of the Best vs Best philosophy.
Kaun Jeetega? portrays a young child posing the question to all around him, asking who wins when two tigers take on each other.
As his question goes unanswered, his father takes him to watch an IPL match, concluding that, when a tiger takes on another, the tiger is always the winner.
In this phase of the campaign, the tagline will be 'sher vs sher' or tiger vs tiger and the ads will be released in many languages. The iterations of the national television campanign play out across languages and different family archetypes.
In Bundelkhandi it is 'Kaun Jeetego?' and the film has been shot in Chambal; in Tamil: 'Y·ru Jeyipp··ga?' and the film shot in Madurai features two brothers who engage in banter, as they walk back from school.
The older brother is a 'know-it-all', and has all the answers, but when they watch IPL on TV, he fails to predict the winner.
The tagline resonates with a popular promotional campaign for the Telugu blockbuster Baahubali 2: The Conclusion where a series of questions were released on social media and later, used to label licensed merchandise.
Perhaps this is what the creators of the new campaign are hoping to do too, but it is early days yet.
"With fans across the globe waiting for the Vivo IPL 2018 to start," says BCCI CEO Rahul Johri, "we decided to launch the second leg of the #BestVsBest campaign. It is all about the universal appeal of IPL. This aspect is something I believe will keep fans glued to all the action."