‘It is the mother of all cricketing battles’ – this saying finds its place in the best of discussions around the Cricket World Cup tournament, naturally. But what if it becomes a part of an advertiser’s round table meetings? Hyundai, LG, Castrol, Hero Honda, Fly Emirates, and Reebok are all saying it aloud and officially so, but one brand that has taken a detour in the big advertising rivalry is Idea with its ‘Keep Cricket Clean’ campaign.
Anupama Ahluwalia, Senior VP, Marketing, Idea Cellular, spoke to exchange4media, on the unique initiative despite Idea not being one of the official sponsors and how it has made a difference for the brand.
It’s been nearly four weeks since Idea’s ‘Keep Cricket Clean’ campaign has taken shape. The never-before-like concept has seen six legendary cricketers coming together under the title ‘Idea Champions of the World’. A series of television advertisements features six World Champions – Kapil Dev, Allan Border, Clive Lloyd, Imran Khan, Steve Waugh and Arjuna Ranatunga – who are shown talking about ways to ‘Keep Cricket Clean’.
Ahluwalia shared, “The Idea Keep Cricket Clean campaign was launched in the second half of February 2011, coinciding with the World Cup 2011. The campaign was a result of a two-pronged strategy to promote the message of ‘Keep Cricket Clean’ when the World Cup is being played in the Cub-continent, where cricket is a passion and millions of fans like to enjoy the sport in its utmost purity and true spirit.”
Enveloping three aims in one initiative, the strategic campaign cashes in on World Cup’s popularity, attempts to attract potential, non-potential Idea users, and spreads the message of keeping the game of cricket away from unspirited ways.
The brain behind the campaign is Ashwin Varkey, Creative Director, Lowe Lintas, and he shared, “The thought process, if one can ever define it, was fairly straightforward. Idea had tied up with the six champions of the world. Therefore, we needed to leverage this association in the best possible manner. So, it was decided that they would champion the idea to keep cricket clean. As that is really the need of the hour. The tough part was to then bring it to life in the Idea language and way of advertising.”
The campaign, which is scheduled to run on television till the end of the World Cup, also in a way supports Mobile Number Portability (MNP) and informs the consumer that he can change the service provider without changing his number. “The timing of the campaign also coincides with the ongoing buzz around MNP, and the current campaign takes our ‘No Idea, Get Idea’ message forward,” Ahluwalia said, adding, “Our consumer research results suggest that the campaign has been received positively amongst the TG. The thought leadership position that we took on MNP, gave us a lead in terms of overall net gains, which we continue to maintain as on date.”
“A few months ago, we had come out with the ‘No Idea, Get Idea’ campaign, which did very well for the brand. So, we decided to stick to our format, but in a new way that would eventually land the message to keep cricket clean,” Varkey explained.
The subsequent ads have shown these six World Cup winning captains suggesting the callers to take ‘Idea’ and drop their service providers. As part of the campaign, Idea has also given a chance to fans to connect with these cricket legends and be a part of this unique initiative.
Having carved a first-of-its kind advertisement where six World Cup winning captains are seen together for the first time, the most vital question remains unanswered – Despite not being the official sponsor, why Idea chose to come up with a campaign of this sort exactly at the time of the World Cup? Ahluwalia replied, “Creativity and effective utilisation of media opportunities is the key to success of any media campaign. During the World Cup, where you have several brands competing for eyeballs within a defined time, it is the most creative advertising that will catch eyeballs. Our earlier campaigns around cricket – ‘Idea Oongli Cricket’ and ‘Talk to your favourite Cricketer’ – have been two of the most popular cricket-based ad campaigns of their time.”
But would the brand’s official sponsorship of the game have added weightage to the work? Varkey answered, “Advertising is not an isolated process. In fact, associations, sponsorships and market realities dictate advertising. We were always aware that Idea was not the official sponsor, and if they were, the requisites would have changed and so would have the advertising.”
The brand has also targeted a larger set of audience and has also taken non-traditional roots to spread its message and increase brand awareness. Ahluwalia informed, “Idea has united six cricketing legends of each World Cup eras, to Keep Cricket Clean. The six World Cup Champions are promoting the Idea campaign through a series of ads and ground events across the country. Idea has put together a collection of films and stills featuring these legends, during the World Cup. With the progress of the Cricketing season, Idea rolled out a 360 degree campaign to reach out to the audience, utilising all traditional and emerging media platforms.”
Leveraging digital and Below the Line (BTL) medium of advertising, the brand is actively involved in tapping the online and offline consumer. “We have been conducting Keep Cricket Clean theme quizzes on Facebook, where digital users and Idea fans are asked questions pertaining to the ongoing match of the day. To further engage with the digital community, we have also been running trivia quizzes on each of the six Captains. The campaign is also being promoted using traditional outdoor media tools, across all major cities in India. Idea is also doing special on-ground events with the Captains in the major metros, to promote the campaign,” she divulged.
With cricket on every Indian’s mind, creating hype around any cricket campaign, they say, is a cakewalk. But Varkey thought otherwise. “It’s never easy to create a campaign and it’s never easy to create hype. But having the six World Cup winning captains made our job a little easier as they are very well known and came with a lot of stature. Which is why we felt that the six captains were probably the only people who could champion an idea like keeping cricket clean.”
Ahluwalia felt, “Cricket is passion in India, and hence, it offers a steady platform to advertisers to build a strong connect with millions of Cricket fans across the country. Cricket, music and cinema are at the core of Idea’s brand communication strategy. In the past, Idea has presented two seasons of ‘Idea Cup Tri-Series’ held in the Sub-Continent, and brand Idea has also been associated with several IPL teams in the last two editions of the T-20 tournament. ‘Idea Oongli Cricket’ was one of the most successful campaigns during last season of IPL.”
“We also felt that every cricket lover wants the game to be clean and played in the right spirit, so we thought that this idea would resonate,” Varkey added.
Meanwhile, the advertising campaign has got the thumbs up from the advertising fraternity too.
Emmanuel Upputuru, National Creative Director, Publicis India, said, “It’s one of the most unique ideas. To begin with, it is quiet fresh. It’s always topical. And unlike most other campaigns from Idea, this is something that has on-ground legs. The campaign becomes that much bigger and credible by roping in six World Cup captains, that is a real master stroke. I love the journalist. Her acting is very nice. The direction is also nice.”
However, Upputuru also thought that the ad was too loud and direct. “I just feel a bit greedy that maybe they shouldn’t have tried hardselling ‘get Idea’, but I can understand their greed,” he added.
Saurabh Dasgupta, Executive Creative Director, Innocean Worldwide, too, felt the same as he said, “I think it’s smart to do something like this, especially when you are not an official sponsor. It does get the brand the eyeballs during a high voltage- high visibility event. Strategically, it’s a good ‘idea’, but creatively, it pales in front of the stuff they’ve been doing with Abhishek. Bringing together six captains is fine, but this thing about keeping the game clean is a bit preachy. Though the film looks slick, but in my opinion the script should have been something that brings a smile, a la ‘No Idea-Get Idea’.”