Pro Kabaddi League - can it match the IPL fame?
Our traditional game of soil kabaddi has become a trending topic in the latest times. The countryside game has moved out of its origins and gained recognition all over the world through the platform of Pro Kabaddi league (PKL). Designed on the lines of cricket and football, PKL is gaining popularity amongst the masses. A great initiative by Mashal Sports and the International kabaddi Federation has enabled the sport to be viewed in a much glorified light.
Having 22 million viewers tuning in to watch the opening of the Pro Kabaddi league, brands should have found their opportunity to gain further establishment. Despite gaining massive recognition initially, brands still remain doubtful of their investment in the league. PKL is a kabaddi league brought to the TV screens of almost all households through their official broadcaster Star Sports and may have a long way to go before it is accepted by the natives of this country.
For most brands, PKL may not come as a sporting platform to put their marketing money right away. However, some brands have a different view.
Ankit Patidar, VP marketing at Shakti Pumps (sponsoring the Jaipur Pink Panther team), regards its association with the league in enhancing its brand recognition in the rural areas.
To increase their engagement in the rural sector, they hold regular chaupals and melas in the areas to build connect with their customers. This initiative has seen crowd engagement by customers coming and discussing the game with the brand’s local distribution team. Having its origins in the rural region, Shakti Pumps targeting the rural strata of the society through this experiential activity proved to be quite an intelligent move.
Future group, which owns the Bengal’s team franchisee have also been an active player in initiating experiential activities. The group has started talent hunt programme by organizing kabaddi matches outside Big Bazaar outlets in west Bengal. This was a great way to strike chords with the locals, increasing awareness at the same time.
Star Sports, the central sponsor and official broadcaster has strategized a unique mall based promotional activity, across the eight cities where matches of this league are to be played. Partnering with ‘EG!’, they are going to set up an indoor Kabaddi game unit, where a team comprising of two members will play as 'raiders' and tag the seven promoters as 'antis'. The game offers each player a chance of three rounds, with a time limit of 30 seconds per round.
This was a great move to provide first-hand experience to the people within the relaxed and constraint environment of a mall. This will thus help people to engage with the game at a much higher level.
Despite brands being skeptical in terms of their association with the Pro Kabaddi League, Bollywood actors seem to be much positive about the entire concept. Leading corporates and individuals have taken up franchisees of the eight teams. For instance, Kosmik Global Media has bought franchise of Bangalore, Abhishek Bachchan of Jaipur, Kalpathi Investments of Chennai, Rana Kapoor of Yes Bank for Delhi, Uday Kotak of Kotak Mahindra Bank, of Pune, Kishore Biyani, Future Group of Kolkata, Ronnie Screwvala,Unilazer Sports of Mumbai, and Core Green Group has bought franchise of Vizag team.
Being in its initial stage of development and recognition, Pro Kabaddi League has a long way to go in terms of sponsorships and spends. But it is a superb idea and a great platform for brands to gain recognition and build connections with both the rural and urban population of the country. Kabaddi being a sport that is both for the elites and the masses, is a diverge stage for brands both small and big to leverage their chances for acknowledgement.
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