Mumbai Indians players Dhawal Kulkarni, Arjun Tendulkar and Aditya Tare during a practice session (Image: Twitter/@mipaltan)
The Indian Premier League (IPL) is also the Indian Promotional League.
Local flavour is an obvious theme in the marketing strategies of franchises. This is logical, since the IPL is a competition among cities. Chennai Superkings have ‘whistlepodu’ (blow a whistle) as one of their slogans. Kolkata Knightriders promise to ‘Korbo Lorbo Jeetbo re’ (do, fight, win). Rajasthan Royals urge supporters to raise their voice through ‘Halla Bol’ (they could have made things interesting this year by choosing the title of one of Raj Kundra’s shows).
On September 15, Mumbai Indians (MI) released a new promo with a new slogan – ‘aplya family cha’ (belonging to our family). A tagline with the word ‘family’ could belong to either genre – Karan Johar's films or The Godfather. MI, however, informs us through a statement that the line has to with Mumbai and the prevalent Ganesh Chaturthi mood.
“Mumbai Indians, known for its ‘OneFamily’ ethos, today launched a brand-new regional titled ‘Aplya Family Cha’ – a Marathi campaign coinciding with the State’s biggest festival – Ganesh Utsav, celebrating the togetherness of its fans in Maharashtra,” the statement said.
The promo, made by Lowe Lintas, features many players playing cricket or performing the koli ‘fisherfolk’ dance and some other street moves, which are seen at Ganpati processions.
It starts with MI captain Rohit Sharma, who in real life too sometimes speaks the city’s street lingo. Just ask hecklers who have received a ‘rocket’ from him in Mumbai Hindi.
The other Mumbaikars in the video are Dhawal Kulkarni, Aditya Tare and Arjun Tendulkar. They are followed by non-Mumbaikars but MI-kars Hardik Pandya, Krunal Pandya, Ishan Kishan and Suryakumar Yadav. The foreigners in the video are New Zealand’s Trent Boult, South Africa’s Quinton de Kock and West Indies’ Kieron Pollard.
Nita Ambani, the Mumbai Indians' owner, comes somewhere in the middle-order in the film. ‘Aplya family cha’, she says with a raised fist.
Like the franchises, the tournament also has distinctly Indian, filmy, celebratory marketing slogans. Sometime in the early years the event called itself ‘Manoranjan ka Baap’. Then there was the catchy-for-some, annoying-for-others ‘Dil Jumping Japang Jampak Jampak’ in 2013, featuring the great cricketer Farah Khan.
It is the great actor M.S, Dhoni who stars in this year’s film. He played a monk in the promo for the first part of the IPL, which was halted due to rising Covid cases. Now, as the competition resumes from September 19 in the UAE, he plays a hinterland dude in flashy jacket, handkerchief around his neck and blonde highlights in his hair. He charms and skips his way through a chawl, assuring people, ‘Asli picture abhi baaki hai’.
Sanjog Gupta, head – sports, Star & Disney India, spoke about the campaign with afaqs.com.
“Teams and players typically up the ante on the field,” he said. “They play top cricket and are at their competitive best in the final weeks, which means fans can look forward to higher intensity, impossible heroics and nail-biting finishes in the month-long spectacle. And this is the proposition of our campaign.”