Since I’ve been reporting on advertising, marketing and media, almost every year we’ve seen stories about how the creative industry needs to look at the IPL as the Super Bowl of India and produce the best creative work. I think we’re at the cusp of achieving that now.
Around five hours before the first ball of the 2021 edition of the IPL was bowled, Virat Kohli took to Twitter to share what was about to become the talk of the weekend, the Cred ad featuring Rahul Dravid
For the 2020 edition, Cred got the celebrities featuring in their ads to break them on social media. Well, Dravid isn’t on social media. I guess, The Wall didn’t crack on that stance but was seen playing a different role – that of the ‘Indiranagar ka Gunda’ – a man showing road rage thanks to Bengaluru traffic.
IPL fans had last seen this (rare) occurrence during the 2014 season of the IPL. Then, Dravid flung his cap to the ground as Rajasthan Royals were eliminated by Mumbai Indians in an improbable run-chase.
As a player, the closest Dravid came to expressing any anger on the cricket field was years ago. In the 2001 home series against Australia, Dravid celebrated his 100 in Kolkata with emotion (that several believed was aimed at some sections of the media, that then doubted his position in the team). Dravid’s response to the Doubting Thomases was that mammoth partnership with VVS Laxman, which led India to an improbable victory.
Before that, my memory takes me back to a rain-curtailed ODI in South Africa. Allan Donald verbally took on Dravid, and the latter answered back with his bat.
Other than these three instances, I can’t recollect Dravid showing any (negative) emotion on the cricket pitch.
But here we are. Cred got him to show pure rage. Those 15-seconds of anger shown by Dravid in the film went viral within a matter of hours. WhatsApp groups that had nothing to do with cricket were sharing the film.
Yes, the IPL has seen great campaigns. The telecom players – Virgin Mobile (Indian Panda League) and Vodafone (ZooZoos) have had great, memorable campaigns. But, because of social media being less popular then, they didn’t get the shares and virality this Cred campaign has got.
A friend texted the Campaign India link to the ad, asking if there are five more as part of the campaign. He’s got nothing to do with the advertising industry but is excited to know what's next. I told him that the press release from the company does suggest so. He responded that he can’t wait for the next campaign and started speculating on who could be next to feature in this ad campaign.
That’s the kind of fandom Cred is getting. While many are doubting the platform and the rewards it offers, and the advertising experts argue about how the campaigns have no strategy or long-term recall value, it has gotten tongues wagging. People are eagerly awaiting parts two, three, and the rest of the campaign.
It’s these kinds of efforts that will help make the IPL the Super Bowl of India. Brands are waiting for the tournament to roll out creative work, a little more each year. This year it’s Cred that’s getting the plaudits. Hopefully next year, we’ll see more inspired brands join in, and when that happens, we’ll hopefully have reached the Super Bowl level we’ve been aspiring to reach. If for nothing, at least some fun, engaging ads are coming out to play!