Case Study: Star Sports India, Women’s Kabbadi Challenge
Kabaddi, a popular contact sport in rural India, is usually played by men because women are often considered too delicate. In fact, women kabaddi players have long struggled to receive funding and attention. India’s largest sporting channel, Star Sports, launched a women’s professional kabaddi league, but enticing viewers to watch women playing a “men’s sport” was challenging.
The objective of kabaddi is to score points by crossing a white line drawn on the ground. So we essentially turned the principal rule of the game into a media relations campaign that reflected women’s struggles.
We developed a core concept with Star Sports to produce an emotional film portraying women crossing the line in male-dominated fields such as science and defense, while announcing the Women’s Kabaddi Challenge and inspiring women to take the lead in contact sports. Our promotional tour brought three star kabaddi players to their fans, attracting men and women throughout India through print and broadcast campaigns.
With the hashtag #CrossTheLine, 290 Women’s Kabaddi Challenge stories reached 125+ million Indians in just one month, while stadium ticket sales and Star Sports views
soared during matches. In fact, 90M people watched the Women’s Kabaddi Challenge on Star Sports—3X the entire viewership of the 2016 UEFA European Championship. Stadiums reached 85% capacity for each of the Women’s Kabaddi Challenge matches. Bollywood celebrities spontaneously picked up and spread our messages. Unpaid influencers and celebrities attended the matches and encouraged fans to support the players. But perhaps more telling, kabaddi player Abhilasha Mhatre said, “A girl … told me that because of you my family lets me play Kabaddi. And that is the biggest honor (prize) I have won so far.”