'We want to motivate and inspire students through the new brand film with Sachin'

Unacademy’s Chief Marketing Officer Karan Shroff talks about their latest campaign with cricketing maestro Sachin Tendulkar and synergies between Brand Sachin and Brand Unacademy

e4m by Javed Farooqui
Updated: Mar 3, 2021 8:43 AM

Bengaluru-based ed-tech platform Unacademy has entered into a strategic partnership with cricketing maestro Sachin Tendulkar. The partnership will see Tendulkar picking up a stake in Unacademy while at the same time become the brand face of the platform. He will also host exclusive live interactive sessions with learners on the Unacademy platform. To kick-off the partnership, Unacademy has launched a brand film that chronicles Tendulkar's journey from hardships to dominating the cricketing world for over two decades. Unacademy’s Chief Marketing Officer Karan Shroff spoke with exchange4media about the campaign and synergies between Brand Sachin and Brand Unacademy.




What was the idea behind partnering with Sachin Tendulkar?

Sachin is great at what he does and he has been great at the game for close to 2.5 decades. It takes a lot of traits like sincerity, focus, hard-work, determination, grit, and perseverance to stay on top of the game. Of course, he did a lot of right things in his career but there are a lot of learnings also that come along with it. He also went through a lot of failures and hardships. The whole idea behind the partnership is to get someone who could rub off on our students in a way where they could learn all of these traits and build from there. Sachin is a testament to all of these things. We wanted to transfer all that knowledge, wisdom, and learning of his career to our students. We wanted someone who could nurture, inspire and motivate our students and learners.

He will also take live interactive classes on the platform so students will get access to Sachin Tendulkar and ask questions to him, interact with him and learn from him.


What are the key synergies between Unacademy and Sachin?

We are working towards the dream of democratising education. We want to empower every learner who has a dream of cracking an exam and to empower that dream we want to give them an opportunity. When we spoke with Sachin, he shared a similar vision for the country. He loved the thought of making quality education accessible and available to every learner out there. That is how synergies started opening up, and then there are all the traits that I spoke about. So we also tell our students to work harder to overcome challenges. Exam preparation is not just about what is in the textbook but also your approach to the exam and the mindset that you approach the exam with. Everything that we do is focussed on our learners. They are the core of everything that we do as a brand and this partnership is in that direction.


So Sachin will be the exclusive face of Unacademy going forward?

We have got into a strategic partnership with Sachin. He will take interactive live classes frequently for our students. Currently, for our students, we are working on something deeper which is on a content-led partnership with him. Over and above these things, he will also be our brand ambassador. So it is not just a traditional endorsement deal. It is a deeper engagement focussed on the learners.


What is the thought behind hosting interactive sessions on the platform with celebrities and influencers like Sachin Tendulkar and earlier with the likes of Dr. Shashi Tharoor and Virat Kohli?

To give you the context, Dr. Tharoor's session had over 30,000 students turning up while Virat Kohli and Anushka Sharma had over 50,000 students turn up for their session. There is a hunger among students to learn from these public figures. So all of these people had excelled in their lives and done great things through their journeys. Students love to hear their stories and try to apply them in real-life scenarios. This is part of our holistic learning piece and Sachin will play a deeper role because there will be frequent interactive live classes. Students and learners will have access to Sachin every few weeks.


What kind of efforts went into putting together this brand film with Sachin Tendulkar?

We worked on bringing footage from multiple cricket boards because we had to capture Sachin's overall journey. There is footage from Cricket Australia, BCCI, English Cricket Board, and Asian Cricket Council. If you look at the brand film, it has a story flow to it. The video unfolds from Sachin facing failures to then him coming victorious. That entire story flow had to be crafted by using footage from multiple cricket boards. So it was a very challenging exercise. The film is called 'The Greatest Lesson' and the message is failure is the fuel of a champion.


How will you amplify this campaign?

This campaign is going to break digitally first, followed by television. It will break on YouTube, social media, and all of those channels. Then we will take it to the next level. It is a two-minute and 15-second film and that duration is hard to run on television. We will have a down edit of 60 seconds to run the film on TV. The TV campaign will happen after the digital amplification.


How was the brand film conceptualised?

The brand film speaks about how the God of Cricket himself has faced hardships, struggles, hurdles, and lots of failures but yet overcame and dominated the game for 2.5 decades. What we are trying to communicate is that if someone so great can go through so much.....we always see the glorified side of an athlete's career and the hardships and hard work that goes behind the scenes sometimes go unnoticed.


What was the brief for the agency as far as the brand film is concerned?

This creative was done by Lowe Lintas. It was a collaborative effort between the Unacademy marketing team and the ad agency. Every campaign that we do is learner-focussed. Even the IPL films that we launched a couple of months ago were focussed on learning. The brief for this film was that everyone has seen Sachin thrive but have people taken note of the hard work that he put in for those 2.5 decades. That is what we wanted to bring to the forefront. We want to motivate and inspire students through the new brand film with Sachin.


How important is IPL for Unacademy from an overall marketing strategy standpoint?

IPL is the biggest platform in the country to do marketing. It is a high-impact event. It has a lot of buzz around it and a huge audience following. We used it as an engine to reach out to our learners and communicate the brand's message last year and we will continue to do it this year.


Will you also have a TV and digital presence during the IPL?

We have already taken up Disney+ Hotstar and we are working on the television piece. Let's see how that unfolds.


What is your marketing strategy and which are the key platforms that you use for communicating your brand message?

Social media is one of the tools that we engage in deeply. YouTube is another channel that we use extensively. We are also present on TV, print, radio, and outdoor. So we use social media, mass media, and YouTube to reach students. Digital marketing is a huge tool that we use to communicate with our students.


Is digital a bigger focus area for you than traditional mediums?

It is evenly split because if a cricket match is being played it still reaches cable or DTH over and above being watched on OTT platforms. We use both mediums so that we cover the entire gamut and reach out to every student and learner.


Can you talk about your key TG and where do they come from?

Our key TG is the 14-32 age group. We have students coming from both metros and non-metros. We have 14-15 cities where we have a good size of students coming in. The learners are a little more from tier-2 and tier-3 cities but in percentage terms that is not much. Metros contribute significantly but tier-2 and tier-3 cities have a larger adoption rate overall.


What kind of growth did Unacademy see in 2020 and what are the growth projections for 2021?

We had multiple times growth in 2020 and we saw a lot of stickiness on the platform. Students are spending more time learning on the platform so stickiness went up by 2-3X. The Daily Active Users (DAUs) also shot up.


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