Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Why I Will Be Boycotting IPL

There has been a lot of space in the media that has been devoted over the last few weeks to the new Kerry Packer that's sweeping cricket. ICL (Indian Cricket League) and IPL (Indian Premier League), Zee's rebel and BCCI's answer, are set to revolutionise cricket and entertainment in India. Millionaires were made overnight, the marriage of cricket and Bollywood was complete and the general discerning public suffered in the process.

Now, I have not been following these developments closely, barely even registering them, retaining the disdain I have for anything mass and brainless. But then the IPL campaign hit television screens and I was apalled, absolutely horrified at the creatives. I believe O&M is the agency behind the campaign and I must say that I am very disappointed that a communal inciting campaign of this magnitude and proportion could have been brought to life by one of my favourite agencies.

IPL Ad 1
IPL Ad 2
IPL Ad 3

The entire campaign is centred around hating your fellow man and making his very existence hell just because he supports another team. More than the TV, movie and video game violence that we keep complaining about, this issue ought to be raised simply because it affects us on a much more basic, real and daily level. You meet your neighbour everyday. You're Bangalorean, he's Delhiite. Following simple logic of a person seeking familiarity and therefore being kindred to his home team, you and your neighbour are now being incited to go at each other's throats. If that is not communal, then what is?

Now, one cannot simply identify a problem and then let it lie. One must come up with a suitable solution as well, otherwise of what use are you? So, here is an alternative campaign idea from me.

Alternative IPL Campaign Idea:
The basic thought behind this campaign is that IPL is competitive and it is meant to make the viewers competitive as well. But the key differentiating factor is that it makes the viewer competitive during viewing. It does not make the person competitive. The basic person remains as he/she is. To highlight this difference, obviously some amount of extremities and stretching will have to be portrayed. This can be easily categorised as 'creative licence' or 'poetic justice'.
  1. Best buddies are having a great time hanging out with each other during the day. Come IPL match time, they sit down in front of their TV sets in their respective team colours and then the rivalry begins. This rivalry ends with the match.

  2. A stranger helps out an old granny to cross the road. She then returns the favour by inviting the stranger home for some cookies and milk. The IPL game starts and sweet granny and kind stranger turn into a saber tooth tiger and a wolly mammoth. IPL game ends and sweet granny and kind stranger take leave of each other, full of smiles.

  3. A guy spies a pretty girl in a bar. He approaches her and starts making his moves on her. Things are going well and both are laughing till the IPL game starts. Then fierce rivalry ensues between the two. IPL game ends and both leave together, totally into each other.
Another shortcoming that I think exists in the current campaign is that nobody is shown watching the game. Isn't that the final objective? You want people to watch the games, not just buy keychains and wrongly accuse somebody else of misbehaving with them. I mean, it's all very good to support your team, but if you're not watching the games, then it really doesn't serve any of the corporations' purpose now, does it?

The alternative campaign not only shows people watching the games, it also ensures that the rivalry does not extend beyond the games and into real life. This way, it delivers the competitive spirit required for IPL, provides the enthusiasm to watch the games, and thereby high TRP ratings, does not cross the line, and hence ensures that society remains sane.


The Soothsayer said...

Good one Venky...

It is an interesting perspective and one I did not think about when I saw the Ads...I guess I just took them on face value and did not look at the cultural divisions that they propounded...I do agree that rivalry can be shown in 200 ways and still rise above drawing further boundaries in an already divided country...

That said however, we must also try and give the audience some credit to sift through whats very obviously on-the-face leg pulling...maybe we are 'sensitising' ourselves a little too much to get offended at the slightest hint of segregation...

What the ad campaigns do subtly. our politicians do blatantly...how else would you explain 50% reservations in the country's greatest institutes and a further revision to the already gargantuan OBC/SC and what have you? lists...I can never forget failing to gain admission into St. Xaviers Mumbai (my dream college), because the list closed at 80.5% while i had a 'meager' 80.26%...all the while seeing Catholic category students breeze through admissions with as little as 50%!! How then is this country an equal opportunity haven..?

That said, I do believe that advertising has a bigger onus to fulfill, than just entertainment and information...it can influence subliminal reasoning and propound better values...And it is this responsibility that they must fulfill, As David Ogilvy famously said.."don't sell to the consumer, what you wont sell to your wife"..

Maybe O&M will win some more Awards at the next Ad fest..and even defend their stance with the label of creative freedom...maybe we should as a whole lighten and not be too incisive...whatever be the case...The greatest Advertising does not leave a bad taste in your mouth...it leaves you feeling buoyant and wondrous and eager to try the product/ service...And thats whats most important to achieve.. :)

Rags said...

@ the soothsayer:

Thanks. What really irked me about this campaign was the lift ad. The others can pass muster.

Unfortunately, I do not believe the general audience is thinking enough to be able to sift through something that is hitting them at such a subconscious subliminal level. And O&M is bloody smart. They know how to play with the consumer's mind.

I agree completely with your sentiments on politicians and the reservation issue. Heck, I struggled through it too. But that is another separate issue that will have to be dealt with separately.

Advertising in India is hitting fabulous heights ever since we discovered consumer insights and Indian-ness. I guess the price we have to pay for some truly wonderful advertising is having to sit through some miserable advertising with huge media spends.

Sid said...

Hi Rags, I absolutely agree with you and felt the same way. In fact, there was an even more gruesome ad where a young chap leaves his seat in bus for an elderly man and finding a rival team's logo on his luggage, sits back. Now, this was team-spirit and sport spirit hitting disgusting lows. I wish somehow the ad agency could read through your blog and pick-up your alternate ideas - they are really sweet :)