Disney+ Hotstar CMO on enabling a celebratory expression for IPL that masks can’t hide

Disney+ Hotstar IPL

In conversation with Social Samosa, Sidharth Shakdher from Disney+ Hotstar discusses the vibe of the new IPL campaign embracing multiple cultures to establish PAN-India engagement through the common love for cricket, and bring people together while they continue to remain socially distant during the pandemic.

‘India Ki Vibe Alag Hai’ by Disney+ Hotstar announcing the launch of Vivo IPL 2021 was designed with a cumulative intention of building brand affinity for the streaming platform that sustains during and after IPL too. Here we dissect the campaign with insights from Sidharth Shakdher, EVP & CMO, Disney+ Hotstar, tapping into the campaign’s objective, the creative, and commercial approach, and how the brand intends to enable celebration within communities.

The Objective

Sidharth shares that the objective was first viewed through two lenses, entertainment from IPL, and entertainment from the catalog of movies and shows the platform hosts. The catalog has been expanded with several new and upcoming releases, which led to the main film and the tagline ‘Entertainment Ka All-Rounder‘.

The aim was to attract viewers for IPL, but form a deeper connection and make Disney+ Hotstar their platform of choice. Elevating the baseline consumption pre and post the IPL spikes.

“The intention is to make the campaign more interactive, and the objective was acquisition, sustenance, and retention, along with increasing brand affinity”.

The idea led to enabling people to associate the brand with the celebration, and give them a feeling of community and belonging.

“Earlier our social legs were based more on what’s happening in the cricket field, and from there we’ve taken it into the consumers’ lives, it’s still about cricket, but its more about consumers’ lives”.

The Concept

With the country and the world going through a difficult time, IPL brings some joy and happiness to people, and in these times the brand wanted to create a sense of belonging and togetherness. This feeling is imbibed in supporting a favorite team, and the region’s culture and the brand wanted to assemble it in one common revelry.

“What if we could bring it all together in one common celebration, or dance move, or an expression, that allows you to support your team, feel pride in local culture, and that was the beginning point for India Ki Vibe Alag Hai”.

The Creative Approach

The creative approach was weaving the whole campaign with a common thread and making the viewer feel like a part of a tribe. The IPL team, staple food, historic places, and regional culture and customs were the common aspects.

“All of these things exist, what doesn’t exist is that a common celebration, so that’s the last element that we wanted to bring in, and make it a part of pop culture in a region, then it would make the message much more powerful”, adds Sidharth.

This was the outlook for the campaign, with parts of the film being true to the region in essence, and bringing out its own individuality, under the umbrella concept.

Also Read: IPL 2021 Campaigns line-up to bowl over cricket fans

The Creation

The mainline campaign out on traditional mediums has been done by DDB, with the social campaign ‘India Ki Vibe Alag Hai’ created by Supari Studios. Sidharth mentions that the collaboration was a co-creative process.

“We started at different points, and filtered out aspects” adds Sidharth. The brand team and Supari Studios went through discussions and finalized the output. The production house went across eight cities, and the development was lavishly mounted, adds Sidharth.

The brand approached Nucleya to lay down the track, and he had written the track in Hindi first. Singers and writers from different cities were then brought in to move into regional languages and craft it without literally changing the essence.

Each singer’s sound and each writer’s words were laid down on the soundbed created by Nucleya, along with instrumentation that comes from that city. On maintaining the individuality of each region, Sidharth shares, “We were very comfortable with it looking like eight different pieces from eight different cities, and when we put it together, it falls together so seamlessly that you don’t really feel it”.

He adds that the brand was also very categorical about not using Disney+ Hotstar in the song while establishing itself as the enabler of celebration. “We want to be a brand that enables this, but we don’t want to be the brand that pushes itself through it.”

The Commercial Approach

The main film is the over-arching part of the campaign, but there are cutdowns for every city which will be amplified with teams, fan clubs of each city, local influencers, any social media handles that are popular in a particular region, along with being rolled out on all Disney+ Hotstar’s social media handles.

Sidharth also shares that with learning that came from last year, the brand wanted to use earned and owned media better. “One of the key goals of this film, with the production we’ve mounted on this, has been to actually generate earned and owned media”.

As to achieve this, it also needs to be shared widely, and people need to engage with it; the brand intends to encourage people to create their own versions of ‘India Ki Vibe Alag Hai.’

He adds that BCCI pinning their campaign on their social handles and broadcasting it in the stadium has been a huge endorsement that wasn’t expected.

The Inference

Sidharth mentions while designing an ad or building a communication if people are wearing masks, and the expressions can’t be seen, the emotion and the impact of the ad is lost, and it becomes very difficult to produce the campaign.

But he found the beauty of this campaign when, “It was clear what the individual’s expression was, even if you weren’t able to see a face most of the times in the film”.


A wordsmith by profession who likes art, Beatles, Coffee, DiCaprio and Eminem brings a fresh perspective contrary to existing perceptions and believes in questioning everything, also has a belief that there should be a bigger place in the world for words and not war. He prefers the phenomena of the physical world of plants and animals(especially dogs) over possessions. Reckons moving to the rhythm and moving on.