15 Oct 2020 17:47 IST

Dream11 did celebrity-led ads differently this IPL

The commercials are endearing because of how thematically relateable they are

Along with all the chaos and uncertainty that Covid-19 has brought in, the game of cricket has taken a hit too. We have a scenario of empty stadia, simulated canned crowd noises, and cricket fans who continue to gyrate from the confines of their own homes. Thanks to some sponsors, advertising spend has gone through the roof for this season of IPL. Whether it’s the foreign commentators who have never driven the Indian roads going ballistic about a Tata car or a bevy of celebrities, both old and new, extolling the virtues of a zillion products. Madhuri Dixit, Anil Kapoor, Amitabh Bachchan, Hema Malini, and all the top celebrities are a part of some ad campaign or the other.

 

And there’s Virat Kohli, who bats like a dream but does commercials that are absolute nightmares. It’s easier to count the number of commercials that don’t have celebrities, rather than those that do. The Indian love affair between advertisers and celebrities only continues to grow. Amid this content glut, there are a bunch of TV commercials for Dream11 featuring some of the best Indian cricketers displaying their human side that makes for great viewing and stands out.

The land of gully cricket

The average guy on the street discovers the most exotic of locations to play the game of his life such as beaches, terraces, garages, gardens, and just about anywhere that you can keep three stumps or a tire. What makes these commercials endearing is that they have captured the reality of gully cricket, where each team has its own rules, and they take it very seriously.

Here is a compilation of Dream11 commercials featuring M S Dhoni, Rohit Sharma, Shikhar Dhawan, Jasprit Bumrah, Hardik Pandya, and Rishabh Pant.

 

So what makes these commercials interesting?

All of us have played cricket like this and the best commercials are those that make you think “hey it’s about me.“ Although the characters are nothing like us, only some of India’s finest cricketers who are treated just as you and me by their friends — badly!

An unwritten rule of gully cricket is that the owner of the bat gets to bat first and Rohit Sharma discovers this the hard way when his claim of being an opener cuts no ice with his friend who unfortunately owns the bat. Dhoni, the greatest of all-time, is sent out for hitting the ball on the scooter. Jasprit Bumrah, at whose pace yorkers are the best of batsmen quail, is stopped midway by a girl who shunts him to a corner saying fast bowling is not allowed here.

Hardik hits a ball out and gets asked for money, which he naturally does not have. Pant’s six after hitting the roof lands in an old fielder’s hand, making him out even as Shikhar Dhawan proudly claims a catch forgetting that one tip has to be caught one-handed. All these quaint rules are unique to the cricket we have played as children and which continue to be played in every nook and corner of this cricket-mad country.

Celebrity ads with a twist

With such a plethora of celebrity commercials that we are subjected to day in and day out on our television screens, let’s spend a little time to understand what makes these stand out.

It’s the power of a well-written script. Very often, creative people use celebrities the way a drunkard leans on a lamppost. They are used as interesting prop at best, just adding to the list of boring celebrity commercials.

Can celebrities lead ordinary lives? Yes, they can and they do have friends who are not in awe of them. The ad unveils the real, human side, which makes it so watchable. The supporting cast who appear as friends in the ad act brilliantly reminding us of our cricket-friends and neighbours in our childhood.

Even as these stars playing for different IPL teams battle it out for the top positions in real life, the commercials come in breaking the tedium and showing the normal side of their otherwise glamorous lives. It reminds us that all of them are ordinary people like you and me despite their extraordinary success. I am not a great admirer of celebrity endorsements and still maintain that they are a refuge for the creative mind that’s bereft of ideas. But commercials like this hit it out of the park, becoming an exception.

Here’s to great advertising!

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