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AD BREAK

Batting beyond frontiers
Borderlines blur when it comes to cricket fanaticism and Sony Sports conveys that in the most heartwarming way

Shruti Venkatesh

Jeet gaye!” How many times have you heard someone scream this while watching cricket? It is a sport that brings out varied emotions in a viewer as well as a player. And India Inc’s love for the game is writ large. Be it Virat Kohli’s seamless sixes, Jhonty Rhodes’ spot-on fielding or Wasim Akram’s swing bowling, a true cricket fan won’t miss any of them playing on field. No matter what team the player belongs to, it is the sheer game that an aficionado would hook on to and relish.

And it is to these cricket fans that Sony Pictures Sports Network has dedicated its new ad campaign – ‘Cricket Without Boundaries’. Launched in November, the campaign flags the start of several cricket series that will be telecast exclusively on the channel, including Sri Lanka tour of Pakistan, New Zealand tour of Australia and England tour of South Africa.

“We learnt that there is a critical mass that follows cricket beyond the Indian shore. In the recent past, the Australia tour of South Africa (The Ashes) drove a lot of social media chatter,” says Neville Bastawalla, head-marketing and on-air promotions-sports business, Sony Pictures Network India. This finding prompted the team to launch a campaign targeted at ‘True Lovers of Cricket’.

While fans of opposing nations or teams often love to one-up one another, the campaign does not take a nationalistic or vengeful tone that cricket is infamous for. Instead, it focuses purely on the emotions behind loving a sport. “A lot of campaigns are based on jingoistic vibes, winning and aggression. To disrupt this, we wanted to go the other way and do something positive and uplifting,” says Raghu Bhat, founder and director, Scarecrow Communications.

The film begins by introducing the viewer to Charles Rao, an ardent cricket fan. Rao recalls the first time he saw Shane Warne bowl in 1995 and how that instantly made him a fan of Australian cricket. The camera follows him as he waters his plants and takes out an autographed cricket ball. He finally settles down on the couch to watch a cricket match. His wife brings him a cup of coffee and places the Australian cricket team’s jersey next to him. As Rao wears the jersey, the camera pans up and the viewer finally learns that he is blind. He lost his vision in 2001, but that hasn’t stopped him from enjoying the game or supporting his favourite team.

“Our creative insight stemmed from the fact that passion for the sport you love can make you overcome the worst adversities and also cross both physical and psychological barriers,” says Bastawalla. The ad conveys this in the most beautiful, heart-warming and engaging manner.

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