As­so­ci­at­ing with PKL is ef­fi­cient & im­pact­ful.


Kabaddi has amassed a fol­low­ing for it­self. Thanks to Pro Kabaddi League, the home­grown sport has re­ceived a pro­fes­sional makeover and has now be­come a cool sport not just for the con­sumers but also for the brands by virtue of its in­her­ent ap­peal to the roots and im­pact­ful pro­mo­tional as­sets.

We in­ter­viewed San­deep Walunj, CMO, Reliance Nip­pon Life AMC, to know his views on the grow­ing pop­u­lar­ity of Kabaddi. Edited Ex­cerpts:

Kabaddi par­tic­u­larly has seen a grow­ing in­ter­est thanks to PKL and is now the sec­ond most pop­u­lar sports prop­erty. Did you ever con­sider that a tra­di­tional In­dian sport will catch the fancy of in­ter­na­tional brands? What fac­tors do you at­tribute this growth to?

Well, I have seen cricket grow in front of my eyes and so have var­i­ous lo­cal fes­ti­vals. So thank­fully, we at As­so­ci­a­tion of Mu­tual Funds of In­dia (AMFI) were pre­pared for kabaddi. What is driv­ing its growth is the ap­peal of the roots, the pro­fes­sional makeover given to the game by the League man­age­ment, solid prop­erty-build­ing by Star Sports, and of course, the trans­form­ing semi-ur­ban In­dia!

What could be, in your opin­ion, the ways to keep this pop­u­lar­ity of Kabaddi grow­ing?

Con­tinue to make it the ‘In­thing’, build the pro­fes­sional im­age of play­ers, dial up the hu­man­in­ter­est ap­peal of the play­ers, de­velop the ex­pe­ri­ence around the arena, im­prove the qual­ity of com­men­tary – keep mak­ing it as ‘cool’ as pos­si­ble.

How does it make sense to be as­so­ci­ated with leagues like PKL & ISL which of­fer brands to get on-air and on-ground as­sets from one rights holder?

Oh, it’s so much sim­pler, ef­fi­cient, and im­pact­ful. Last year’s as­so­ci­a­tion came with all the on-ground and on-air vis­i­bil­ity, ac­ti­va­tion, hos­pi­tal­ity, and those su­per-ef­fec­tive TVCs that we were able to do with play­ers of all teams! Can you imag­ine the cost and ef­fort this would have taken with some­thing like IPL? (Well I know since I worked for Pep­siCo dur­ing IPL 1 and 2!)

With con­sumers hav­ing dif­fer­ent screens at their dis­posal, a rel­a­tively new prop­erty has enough room for in­no­va­tion in ad­ver­tis­ing. How do you see the fu­ture in this light?

I am to­tally look­ing for­ward to it. The ‘Guess the out­come of next ball’ quizzes that Hotstar did around last IPL, the im­pact­ful place­ments SonyLIV of­fered dur­ing FIFA World Cup, and the strips we ran on sports pages dur­ing World Cup are all ex­am­ples of end­less ex­cit­ing and very ef­fi­cient in­no­va­tions that are pos­si­ble and eas­ily doable for much bet­ter im­pact.

A league like PKL of­fers brands an op­por­tu­nity for some unique ac­ti­va­tions. How can brands take ad­van­tage of such op­por­tu­ni­ties by do­ing cus­tom­ized ac­ti­va­tions?

Here I will have to give a lit­tle old­fash­ioned re­ply. Deep un­der­stand­ing of the TG, know­ing ex­actly what to com­mu­ni­cate, un­der­stand­ing the game as well as play­ers (both as play­ers and as hu­mans) and hav­ing a good trust­ing re­la­tion­ship with the League is the recipe. The last one is par­tic­u­larly im­por­tant. What we did on PKL would not have been pos­si­ble with­out the deep con­nect we had with the Star Sports team.

San­deep Walunj Chief Mar­ket­ing Of­fi­cer, Reliance Nip­pon Life AMC

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