Shove thy neighbour: TV build-up to India-Pakistan match

When the rivals are about to clash, the build-up is a marketing dream — a captive audience of millions, each with an opinion.

India and Pakistan last played against each other in the Champions Trophy final last year.   -  AFP

India and Pakistan play several games on and off the field, but cricket has been for a few years now limited to International Cricket Council (ICC) events and Asia Cups. The rivalry has not had much play following the Mumbai terror attacks.

For instance, look ahead. There are no India-Pakistan bilateral series in the first Future Tours Programme — from 2019 to 2023 — listed out by the ICC.

But when the rivals, separated at birth, are about to meet, the build-up is a marketing dream — a captive audience of millions, each with an opinion.    

Star Sports, which unleashed the TV commercial 'Mauka Mauka' — that went viral — during the 2015 World Cup, has unboxed 'Knock Knock' and 'Pange Waala Padosi' TVCs for the Asia Cup.

Rivalry among neighbours is at the heart of its latest TVCs. It has grabbed eyeballs and generated buzz on the social media ahead of the India-Pakistan match on September 19.

The 'Knock Knock' campaign is based on the creative insight that one’s neighbour’s success will always be a consistent reminder of their own failure. The film takes on the age-old 'Neighbour vs Neighbour' rivalry. The campaign aims to ignite a flurry of emotions — pride, merriment, euphoria and most importantly the love of cricket across the sub-continent, according to a Star Sports release.

 

Gautam Thakar, CEO, Star Sports, said, “The Asia Cup is a competitive, thrilling and action-packed celebration of historic cricket rivalries between neighbours. It is where nations from the Asian continent take on each other in one of the most exciting cricket tournaments in the world. The core creative thought “Neighbour vs Neighbour” presented by Star Sports will showcase these arch cricketing rivalries that the Asia Cup has to offer.”

The 'Pange Waala Padosi' TVC is a tongue-in-cheek take on how both the teams view each other as fiercest on-field rivals.

 

The TVCs feed the tribalism that marks the most prickly of sporting rivalries, such as a Real Madrid versus Barcelona football clash, or a Roger Federer-Rafael Nadal tennis encounter. 

What's more, sporting jingoism has always been around and sets the cash registers jingling. Hence, the commercial logic in the build-ups usually is — why come in the way.

Brand and business strategist Harish Bijoor said such jingoism is not new and works. "That is why it is a part of the communication narrative. Making the rival look puny is a part of it."

So, does the neighbour always have to be the pesky one? According to neuropsychiatrist Dr Amrit Pattojoshi, "It sells, hence it is projected so."

He said, "Sports rivalry plays an important part in our lives. To be good rivals we have to be similar in some respects like India and Pakistan. The teams have to be evenly matched in the long haul and there has to be some bitter history between them.

"The executives who make decisions based on these rivalries focus on these elements to generate more business. Seeing such ads makes the public feel a part of the actual contest and have a sense of accomplishment. Irrespective of the result, the anticipation and the build-up brings much joy."