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