Perhaps the exhilaration surrounding the India vs Pakistan match on June 16 could not have got a better impetus. A couple of days ago, ace tennis star Sania Mirza, the wife of Pakistani cricketer Shoaib Malik, tweeted her displeasure and slammed jingoistic ads ahead of the arch rivals’ World Cup clash.
Describing the ads as ‘cringeworthy’, Sania tweeted, “Cringeworthy ads on both sides of the border. Seriously guys, you don’t need to ‘hype up’ or market the match anymore specially with rubbish! it has ENOUGH attention already! It's only cricket for God's sake, and if you think it's anymore than that then get a grip or get a life !! (sic).”
Apparently, Sania’s tweet has turned the focus on the kind of humour being used in advertisements that television channels in both the countries have been putting out prior to the much-anticipated encounter between the arch rivals in the showpiece event.
While the 30-second video (a spoof) released by Pakistan's Jazz TV features a man sporting Indian Air Force Wing Commander Abhinandan Varthaman’s (who was held captive in Pakistan earlier this year) signature moustache, India's Star TV has been running an advertisement (apart from the Mauka Mauka ad) where an Indian supporter describes himself as Pakistan's “abbu” (father), referring to India’s domination over their rivals in the World Cup.
“I don't think these ads should affect the emotions of the people. Advertisements are meant to evoke laughter, that’s it,” feels MG Parameshwaran, brand strategist and former CEO of FCB Ulka Advertising, who adds, “While the respective leaders of the two countries are there to take care of the relations, cricket should only be seen as a sport and not beyond that. I don’t see anything serious in these ads, they are meant only for fun.”
While the cheeky humour in the campaigns have resonated with cricket fans, this advertisement war in the run-up to Sunday’s clash between the teams of both the nations has heated up things in both countries.
Former cricketer and commentator Arun Lal states that an Indo-Pak encounter has always been a pressure game. “During our playing days too, we were all charged up for the encounter, but there wasn’t anything like animosity. We used to enjoy the challenge,” states Arun, who is currently in England for the World Cup.
Former Indian cricketer Arshad Ayub states that these advertisements should be taken in a sportive spirit. “These advertisements will only make the fans more excited, and as a sportsman, I only look at the humorous side of the ad,” he explains.
While such advertisements will certainly get the fans animated, there is also a counter argument that players may get affected, even though every player knows what is expected of them at the highest level.
“Generally the team approaches all the matches in the same way - with a winning attitude - but in the case of Pakistan, yes, there’s extra pressure because they are arch rivals, but that doesn’t get onto them,” explains Arshad.
Meanwhile, even as both the ads have been garnering plenty of curiosity, several users on social media have also openly expressed their displeasure over their tone and brand of humour, which they believe goes against the spirit of the game.