Rugged sport goes urban

When kabaddi has entered the small screen, can product promotion be far behind?

The 100 per cent, purely swadeshi game that is kabaddi has got a big boost with TV channels bringing live this ‘grameen khel’ to our drawing rooms on eight channels in five languages! No kabaddi player ever thought his raiding and catching skills on a  muddy pitch would one day be beamed worldwide during prime time. But it has happened. Similarly, did any fan think his cine idol would be there on the ground to cheer the players?

So, naturally, when kabaddi is on the small screen can product promotion be far behind? Kidding, you ask? No sir, I am kabaddying. But how? Let’s suppose Pepsi sponsors a kabaddi team; its players can invade the rivals’ arena chanting Pepsi, Pepsi, Pepsi.. instead of the usual kabaddi, kabaddi, Kabaddi... Aren’t you promoting the product and incidentally the game, too? And when Pepsi is in the field, can Coca Cola lag behind. It will let loose its team whose players will be parroting Cola, Cola, Cola. At the end of each round they sip their brand drink in full view of the audience. Nice no?

Our energy drink makers can make a similar foray into the arena. Boost can boast that it is the source of energy when a player’s leg is pulled while Horlicks can even introduce a sports special on the lines of Junior and Women’s Horlicks.

Soap makers can have literally a field – albeit small compared to cricket – day. Wheel and Rin can fight it out on the muddy pitch with the respective teams chanting their product’s name while dodging their rivals. The players can then demo-wash their soiled uniform using the soaps of their brand sponsors. Though, it won’t look like politicians washing their dirty khadi on the  screen.

Amid all this, can the home appliance market remain aloof? Here is the chance to take their refrigerators and washing machines to the rural pockets through brand ambassadors in the form of kabaddi players. In fact, washing-machine makers can set up stalls at the venue where they will launder the players’ mucky uniforms. Well, if Ajay Devgan can have his white shirt washed in a jiffy while rushing for a shoot, cannot a kabaddi player get a similar facility? After all the machine is the same!

Film stars owning kabaddi teams has its merits too. Shah Rukh Khan has a cricket team but no player chants his name on the field. With a kabaddi team, though, the players can replace kabaddi with Shah Rukh. Actor Govinda’s team can hum his name too, but a loss will mean Govindaaa, Gooovinda! Well, it’s good that this rustic game has entered the hall of fame. While it may not elbow out cricket, it can co-exist as a cousin.

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