Emotionally Branding Films and Cricket

Everything I know about emotional branding, I learnt from cricket.


I’m a filmmaker. I’ve only made one feature film, so that doesn’t really allow me to call myself a professional. But since I do have a film under my belt, I allow myself the guilty pleasure of calling myself a filmmaker.

But what in the world am I doing trying to relate “emotional branding” and “cricket”? And why in the world should you care?

You see, I don’t think one is a professional at something until one can work the clock, and get paid for it. If you can’t write a script under pressure (think Misery or Adaptation), and make money off it, you ain’t a professional. And the hardest thing in this world besides landing a rover on mars, is making money from making films! Ok, I exaggerate, there certainly are more difficult things than recovering your investment in film, like curing cancer, but by golly (oops that’s my imperial conditioning asserting itself), it sure comes close!


And this is where the idea of emotional branding took hold in my mind. The problem was simple. How could I, who is so passionate about my film, transfer that passion into another human being – well, atleast enough to get them into a theatre to watch it. The marketing gurus say that this can be done through emotional branding. And I quote from the book by Gobe : “Emotional Branding is the conduit by which people connect subliminally with companies and their products in an emotionally profound way.”

Wow! Cool! Nice! But. how do I do it?

Thing is that I really didn’t know how to translate these ideas into action. I didn’t even know what being emotionally branded truly felt like. Until I started to observe myself watching a cricket game. The one in question being a cricket match between India and Australia.

The stadium was filled with Aussies of all shapes and forms, in all types of costumes – even a whole group dressed as croc feeders with little plastic babies placed way too close to the croc’s mouth (you’ll know the story behind this only if you read trivial news items like I do). And among them, the Indians, little pockets of color I felt strongly connected to. Well, atleast for the duration of the match…
When they cheered, I cheered too. And when we lost a wicket, I cursed as loudly as they did, even if it was in the solitary confines of my living room. I watched myself, in a surreal (and embarrassing) out-of-body experience, leaping out of my chair, thrusting my fist victoriously towards the sky (skylight in my case) when VVS Laxman (incidentally from my hometown of Hyderabad) delivered a boundary to make his century and take the team total over 300 on the very last ball of the innings.

“Yes!” I exulted.

“Yes! Yes! Oh Yes!”

Folks, it was better than whatever Meg Ryan had in that movie, you know, When Harry Met Sally. it was way better.

But what was even better was that I finally made the connections. The neurons in my brain sluggishly but surely started networking. Action potentials surged along the Axons and Dendrites and suddenly, there was light!
I got it! I got “Emotional Branding!” 
Without going into the whole politico-socio-existential debate about nation-states, and our conditioned branding and hence, loyalty to such concepts, was the more simpler understanding of what emotional branding really felt like, when you were, well, emotionally branded!

I am Indian. And as much as I love my friends down under, I would be very unhappy if they won. My loyalty was to the Indian brand.

This brand was filled with more brands like Yuvraj, Tendulkar, and even the new kid on the block Rohan Gavaskar.


I’d protect them as fiercely as a mother would her child, and turn against them if they lost a match, as savagely as a lifelong democrat in Florida would against Bush, but by God, I’d never, ever change brands!

I, ladies and gentleman, am proud to declare that I, Nikhil Kamkolkar, am emotionally branded. And damn proud of it too!

And so are the Aussies! A sign in the crowds said – “You’ve got your Hindu (sic), but we’ve got CHRIST-ianity” – an obvious hreference to Mr. Gilchrist, one of the players on the Aussie team. In the end, they had their brands. And I had mine. And neither of us would ever switch.

This is the closest I’ve come to Enlightenment. I’ll never become the Gautama, but hell, I don’t need to achieve Moksha, I just need to find a way to get people to come out and see my movie. Unfortunately though, the understanding brings me no closer to action. It only gives me the yardstick with which to measure if the actions I take can be classified as successful, or dismal failures. I still have to find a conduit that will have you (as willingly as I have in the case of cricket) allow yourself to be emotionally branded and in love-love with my movie, Indian Cowboy: A Love Story.  

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