#IsseToughKuchNahi: Does Star Sports PKL campaign set the tone for the next panga?

Sneha Yadav
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Star Sports PKL campaign

Vivo Pro Kabaddi League is back with the seventh season and Star Sports is all pumped up to set the field for a powerpack 'panga' through the launch campaign. We ask experts if the Star Sports PKL campaign sets the tone for the battles ahead.

While we all are rooting for the team to bring home the much coveted World Cup trophy, Star Sports’ bet on ‘Cricket ka Crown Hum Le Jayenge’ is still a few days away to transform into reality. But that hasn’t stopped the broadcaster to keep the focus divided on the upcoming Vivo Pro Kabaddi League with an official Star Sports PKL campaign.

In the initial years, the league gained prominence as Kabaddi as a sport started gaining more attention after the Asian Games 2006. It went onto become the second most popular sports league in India but also witnessed a huge drop in its viewership last year. According to the data from BARC India,  the viewership rating drop was over 25% in the urban market followed by 33% in the rural areas.

Star Sports has had to up its game for the seventh season and launched a campaign video featuring Kabaddi stars to set the tone just after the World Cup finale culminates. Taking the ‘Le Panga’ josh to the next level, the network this time is betting big on #IsseToughKuchNahi.

‘Isse tough kuch nahi ft. Vishal Bhardwaj’

Depicting Kabaddi as a tough sport, the campaign highlights key aspects that players build over the course of the season which include strength, agility and absolute brute power. The campaign is conceptualized and created by the in-house creative team at Star Sports and was launched during the most anticipated clash between India and England at the ICC Cricket World Cup 2019 on Sunday across TV and Digital mediums.

Also Read: #CWC2019: Strategy Review – Star Sports

In its seventh season, the launch video stars Telugu Titans ace defender Vishal Bharadwaj. Other films that follow, feature kabaddi heroes such as ‘The Showman’ Rahul Chaudhari and Siddharth ‘Bahubali’ Desai.

The Star Sports PKL campaign 2019 transitions from the thinking of a viewer who is not yet a fan and perceives Kabaddi as a simple neighbourhood sport and a game of tag. He is introduced to the sport by an ardent fan and is stunned by the insightful display of Kabaddi action by star players of VIVO Pro Kabaddi.

As mentioned earlier, the decrease in viewership of the matches was attributed to viewers fatigue, lack of marketing and popular shows like BIG Boss and Kaun Banega Crorepati on competitive channels. It is no news that although the numbers have grown and Kabaddi has seen its share of the limelight, it does not enjoy as equal crazy fandom as cricket. Star Sports has been rolling it sleeves each year to make it as popular while the buzz for season seven has already begun.

This year too, the broadcaster has been actively promoting the upcoming league through their campaign.

VIVO PKL is hitting the screens July 20 onwards. The opening match will be played in Gachibowli stadium, Hyderabad between Telugu Titans and U Mumba.

We turned to experts for their take on the Star Sports PKL campaign featuring Vishal Bhardwaj.

Experts Take:


Naresh Gupta- CSO, Managing Partner, Bang In The Middle

I like the line: Nothing tougher than this", but the rest of the communication doesn't rise up to the toughness quotient. PKL is now established, but it's not that it is the first choice of viewers or of advertisers despite prime time TV slotting and very easy to follow format. For me, the way to build Kabbadi is to focus on passion and intensity and get viewers involved in it. Maybe there are more commercials on way and maybe together they will build the traction.

Harikrishnan Pillai, CEO- The Small Big Idea


Ask any sports lover and they will tell how they have spent hours explaining to a naysayer as to why the sport they love is more than just brute force or kicking a ball around. The ad captures that exact insight and that too quite well. If you see how cricket and football are consumed in the country, there is a significant evolution from ‘blind love for players’ to ‘dissection, strategy-identification, and immersion into gameplay’. The surge of fantasy leagues is also a key supporting data set to evolution that an Indian fan is going through. Kabbadi as a sport with this ad begins its attempt to evolve from the ‘game-of-the-hinterland’ to a ‘the sport-beyond-brute-force’ imagery. The ad addresses this exact evolution, empowering the native game lover with content to throw at the soon-to-be fan but current naysayer


Anngad Mnchnda, CEO & Co-founder, Chimp&z Inc

"The first thing that comes to my mind when I see the film is the fact that, even after 7 years of Pro-kabaddi, the channel needs to educate the masses about the game and make it relevant to the millennials of the country. Having said that the film does click on a few checkboxes like education about the sport, idolizing of a player, showing a signature move, an in-direct plug on Cricket is not the only sport in the country. However, it would be nice to see a little more emphasis on the player and mention of his signature move, ‘the Ankle hold’. I also hope that this is one of the films and we see a few more kabaddi players in the focus helping them become household names. 

Overall, the campaign does manage to ring in the right note and bring on the Kabaddi fever in the country. Let's hope Pro-Kabaddi gets the attention it deserves through this campaign and removes all the myths around it."

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