India is a cricket-loving nation and Indian cricket is an evergreen favourite.
Neville Bastawalla intends to expand this horizon with his marketing efforts, and has been at it since the beginning of 2019, when he started his role as the Head, Marketing & On-Air Promotions, Sports Business, Sony Pictures Networks India (SPNI), in a bid to cement Sony Pictures Sports Network as a global multi-sports arena.
“The challenge is to modify these global sporting events, which millions and lakhs of people watch globally, for the Indian viewers. It’s important to understand why it is not connecting and cutting ice in India. These were the kind of questions we started looking at in the month of January, saying how do we grow the sports pie in the entertainment space,” says Bastawala.
The solution, according to Bastawala, is “Massification,” wherein awareness needs to be increased in a country where 70% of sports viewership comes from Indian cricket, and the remaining is from its international counterparts, and other sporting events such as WWE, and Kabbadi. Even the world’s biggest league football event UEFA Champions League is yet to gain favour among viewers.
“The idea is to build a sports community in India. Keep the existing community engaged, and keep building it further,” says Bastawala, adding, “What will work really well is driving relevance to this viewing why watch this, through creating localization.”
Sony Sports' campaign on #CricketWithoutBoundaries
Sony Sports' campaign for The Ashes 2019 cricket series
The broadcaster, looking to acquire new viewers while engaging existing fans, has brought on board Bollywood celebrities like Farhan Akhtar, and Varun Dhawan, to promote sporting events UEFA Champions League, and UFC. In order to popularise the long cricketing rivalry between England and Australia, the sports network has also launched a campaign in Hindi. The broadcaster also set up for Olympics 2020 with its on-air campaign, ‘Hum Honge Kamyab.’
Sony is also banking on the Fear Of Missing Out, or FOMO, among consumers with its #SonaManaHai campaign to promote late-night viewing of UEFA Champions League. The marketing split for promotions, Bastawala says, should be equal between television, digital and on-ground activations.
According to Bastawala, love for Cricket has no boundaries, and this insight, which they cracked in March has led to the creation of the namesake campaign, ‘Love for Cricket knows no Boundaries,’ conceptualised by Scarecrow M&C Saatchi. It tells the story of cricket fan Charles Rao, ahead of several upcoming highly anticipated cricket series in the months ahead..