Le Panga – The campaign that changed the face of Kabaddi in India

Pro Kabaddi League campaigns

Social Samosa takes a look at Pro Kabaddi League campaigns over the last few years for a deeper insight in their marketing strategy.

Creating a non-cricket property and providing it to an audience who can only ‘eat, drink and sleep’ cricket is not an easy task in India. Other than spending huge moolah, it surely requires a marketing strategy to get things right. In 2014, Star Sports launched Pro Kabaddi League (PKL) and it was played between 8 franchises. Today the league consists of 12 teams and the current season is slated to be the biggest tournament of its kind, in terms of the geographical coverage and the duration.

With the increasing fandom for the sport, the campaigns too, have evolved. From giving Kabbadi the ‘cool’ look of a rugged sport to infusing humour and melodrama with Amitabh Bachchan grooving to the tunes of the anthem #LePanga and having Salman Khan shaking a leg on his signature tune in the ‘Mauka Mauka’ ad, PKL campaigns have been extremely well thought.

Star Sports is back with their Le Panga campaign to promote Pro Kabaddi League – Season 5. The film narrates that this time there is no time for rest, there is no room for errors, and there is no easy way out, because this time, there are 12 teams – a bigger season and countless challenges. The League started on July 28 and will continue till October 28.

Social Samosa takes a look at Pro Kabaddi League campaigns over the last few years for a deeper insight into their marketing strategy.

Don’t Watch Fake, #Asli Panga Dekh: Season 4

A whole new approach was adopted by the channel for their campaign titled, ‘Don’t Watch Fake, #Asli Panga Dekh’, infused with melodrama and humor. The strategy of the campaign was very different from the previous years. In a tongue-in-cheek manner, the campaign focused on highlighting the intense action that Kabaddi provides.

The first ad took a dig at a news room scenario where speakers were seen engaging in a fierce confrontation with each other. The second film took a dig at the daily soaps that have weird story plots to grab eyeballs, like having a snake woman as the protagonist. The third film made fun of viewers who are fond of watching action-packed South Indian movies. The message behind the films was – ‘Don’t Watch Fake, #Asli Panga Dekh’.

Le Panga: Season 3

For the third season of the sporting event, the channel extended their Le Panga series. Here the attempt was to introduce the Kabaddi players to the viewers after the sporting event garnered a huge fan following. This particular season had 2 editions.

Le Panga: Season 2

In 2015, on the day of the World Cup semi-final match between India and Australia, when the entire nation was waiting for another ‘Mauka Mauka’ campaign from Star Sports, the channel surprised everyone and instead came out with a new Mauka Mauka campaign with Salman Khan to promote Pro Kabaddi League- Season 2. It went viral instantly and was widely appreciated for their smart marketing strategy – carrying forward the World Cup momentum to build an audience for PKL.

For the second season of PKL, the channel launched their campaign ‘Le Panga’ which inspired people to overcome personal limitation as the protagonist goes through a huge change on exposure to Kabaddi. Using quirkiness and executed in pure Bollywood style, the campaigns were loved by viewers. 

Bollywood superstar Amitabh Bachchan also sang the promotional song of ‘Le Panga’ and the music was out in Hindi and Marathi.

Life is Kabaddi: Season 1

In the first year of Pro Kabaddi League, the challenge was to package the sport in a fresh way and put it in front of a cricket frenzy nation. Deliberate attempt to change the look of the sport which is about mud, dirt and strength was made, by giving Kabaddi a cool and relevant avatar.

The campaign ‘Life is Kabaddi’ was executed in two phases. The first being, where the channel released five teaser videos on social networking sites without revealing everything. During this time, only great visuals with action-packed moments were shared, without letting the viewers get an idea of the sport. Interests of the viewers were further heightened with #GuessTheGame on Twitter, which created a huge buzz.

Subsequently, two thematic films were released and the crux of the ads was that grit and perseverance are needed to achieve what always seems to be out of reach, which is very similar to the spirit of Kabaddi. In one of the film, a group of elderly men together taught a lesson to a young boy who littered the streets and made him aware of his mistake. In the second film, a young boy stood up to school seniors who were bullying him.

And as part of the final stage, the revealed campaign was launched which spoke about the Pro Kabaddi League.

Pro Kabaddi League has managed to create a brand identity and recall value with exceptional storytelling and an earworm in the form of an anthem. Brand PKL is an example of how the face of a product (a sport in this case) can be changed with an apt marketing strategy.

Which is your favourite PKL campaign? Share your thoughts with us on team@socialsamosa.com or in the comments below.