Thursday, August 28, 2014

Thigh Five....

Bengaluru are you Ready... shouted the Anchor.. Are you Ready Bengaluru... Yes. Yes.. Yes... Yes.. Shouted the crowd assembled at the full packed Sree Kanteerava Indoor stadium sitting at the basin of Sampangi Lake... 4000 plus crowd brimming and overflowing like a Beer Mug!!!! But why are they so passionate to watch.. what are they cheering for? Are they cheering for Saina Naiwal the ace Indian Badminton champion.. is it Sachin Tendulkar the God of Cricket who is being felicitated or is it some Dance/music event for which Kanteerava stadium has been leased out... Here stepped up Mantra a.k.a Puranjith Das Gupta our Anchor with a charming young lady and announced... "Thigh five..." let the play begin... To the tears in cheerful tears in my eyes... I shouted "Yeahh.....". Call it the underdog syndrome... It took me a minute to realize that Kabaddi has come a long way from being a game played in villages of India to the center stage in the world... Kashiling Ramachadra Adake, Surjit Narwal, Anup Kumar, Rakesh Kumar, Shabeer Bapu, Rahul Chaudhary, Dharamaraj Cheralathan, Jan Kun Leen from Korea are household names. 

Kashi with his fans...

India has been Kabaddi World champions for time immemorial. So much so that there are Bankers, Police officers, Weight lifters who quit their jobs and joined Kabaddi as a professional sport. Earning a meager salary/endorsement and thriving on jobs offered by public sector. It has taken ages for it to come to the forefront. And importantly, what has made it a success now. I call it Strategic Marketing

Dr. Kotler.. father of Marketing describes Strategic Marketing as 
Create - Product Management
Communicate - Brand Management
Deliver Value - Customer Management 
to a Target Market - STP.. Segmentation Targeting, Positioning (partially)
At a Profit - Revenue Model et al. 

Creating Value
Value is all about what is perceived by the viewer/young customer. And to create Value for him, as a fearless, short 40 minutes package which keeps your interest.. No breaks.. no frills.. just pure thrills .. Excellent viewing experience at the ground with lighting, facilities, played all around India. Value as an Aspirational sport...which is physical  There is lot of physical contact in the game, there is spectacles like Kashi's Vertical Hanuman Jump to get ring of defenders.. 

There is lot of Super Human things.. thrills frills, drama that is created like a Soap opera and the packages is short and sweet for 40 minutes with very few advertisement breaks unlike the IPL equivalent which is prolonged for 4 hours.. This is the era of burgers and instant coffee.. Youth wants instant entertainment in a very short time interval.. 
Co-branding was used extensively with Movies like Kick from Salman Khan and Singham 3 from Ajay endorsing pro Kabaddi

Ajay Devgan doing Thigh five in Singham 3 Movie commerical
Communicate Value
Youth of India are Geek's, they use the latest technology, are well connected and are Brand conscious. Social Media was extensively used to create awareness and communicating the value. Player pages emerged.. to the extend that Bengaluru bulls had a website come up. 
Twitter, Facebook, web pages, Mobile apps name it .. it was there.. 
Logos, taglines, all look integrated. For example.. Bengaluru bulls had their T-Shirts in Red, a Red color bull charging, the tag line said "Fully Charged" and written in Kannada language as "Fully Charge Madi".. Localization strategy was evident. 

Star Sports was signed in as the Broadcasters and they pitched in 15 seconds advertisements that created interest featuring kids, youngsters. i.e. it generated curiosity. 

Delivering Value
Three main challenges which they overcame
1. To make Kabaddi an aspirational sport, 
2. Ensure a good stadium experience and 
3. Catch the attention of a new generation of TV viewers. 
The value was created by using  state-of-the-art technical equipment that included 14 cameras - ultra motion cameras to accentuate the smallest details of Kabaddi action, crane cameras for dynamic overhead shots and a number of slow-motion, steady and hand-held cameras that also focused on crowds. 

Professional services were used from across the world, Israel, US, UK to create the whole Package. There was lot Personalization also done with player meets, up close and personal settings at malls etc. 

Target Market 

The Youth of India. The 55% of India's working class and growing, set to become the youngest Country in the next 5 years. 

Just to compare and contrast, Yuvraj Singh the cricketer who got the highest Bid in IPL got 14 Crores ... Rakesh Kumar, Indian Kabaddi Captain got 12.8 Lakhs as the highest bid. 
Clearly the spending was on Marketing and basic infrastructure, as well as using state of the art technology. Another key aspect to be notes is that The ticketing was outsourced to Kyazoonga - clearly they knew that this was not part of the "Core value proposition" for Pro Kabaddi. 


Just to prove the point about the success... 
1) TV ratings for the opening night Kabaddi games were higher than World Cup football opening night... Isn't that AWESOME....
2) Times of India one of the leading newspapers in India wrote "The power of live television has reignited interest in a forgotten sport (Kabaddi) among millions of viewers."

The league has been a run away success from online point of view. Twelve hours into the league, it received about 140 million impressions on Twitter and saw substantial Facebook activity, too. While various celebrities tweeted their in-stadia experiences, some posted 'signature selfies' at the venue like Amithabh Bachan, Ajay Devagan, Regional Movie stars like Venkatesh etc..

India has risen.. shed its inertia and accepted Kabaddi wholeheartedly.. No matter who wins the finals ... And I am really happy for players like Rakesh Kumar, Kashi, Sandeep, Ajay for without Pro Kabaddi.. they would have lived their life of be-wilderness.. Kabaddi has been the true winner.. Hats off... or shall I say Thigh Five to you !!!!..

Amithabh bachan doing a Thigh Five

Arise... Awake.. and Stop not till the Goal is reached --- Swami Vivekananda....