Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Viewer’s delight, sponsor’s nightmare

I must talk about the World Cup (habits don’t die) which is getting into the business end and India has managed to make every match interesting. How did they do that? They did that by playing way below their potential, snatching defeat from the jaws of victory, turning certain victory into a pulsating tie and lo and behold Indians have to watch West Indies vs. England and South Africa vs. Bangladesh as our progress depends on theirs. What a coup for TRPs!!! And yet amidst all the Indian madness there is a bigger madness and that is the advertising. Even if I owe most of everything I have in my life to advertising, I am getting increasingly miffed with advertising for the World Cup which cuts into my viewing pleasure and makes me feel like throwing something heavy at the TV screen and blasting it into smithereens, but yet can’t as it is my hard earned money which paid for the TV in the first place. How many magic moments have been deprived thanks to the greed of the channels? Why can I not see the first ball and the sixth ball over of the over? Why should I see a half commercial when Shaun Tait ties his shoe laces? How many times do I have to suffer the same boring commercial? Why or why?

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Helicopter shot or switch hit? Take your pick!!

Pepsi is one brand that has swigged cricket to the last drop and some of their best TV commercials have been around the game that often captivates and yet frustrates. In 1996 when Coke was the official sponsor of the World Cup, Pepsi who had lost the bid (if my memory is to be believed) did a guerilla marketing campaign and came up with the campaign “nothing official about it” featuring the likes of a (then) baby faced Sachin Tendulkar, the dashing Vinod Kambli (where on earth is he), the West Indian fast bowler and captain Courtney Walsh, the English speedster Dominic Cork and the legendary umpire Dickie Bird. This was a landmark campaign and people still remember it. See advertising actually works!! In ‘99 when the World Cup was held in England, Pepsi was the official sponsor despite all their previous cracks at the status! But then all is fair in sponsorships and cricket right? Let’s move on to the present World Cup and the current lot of Pepsi commercials. Incidentally do you like them?

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Is the celebrity a brand or a product?

Why do brands seek celebrities? They do that because celebrities stand for something; they are different from the herd and create instant awareness for their products. And that is not all. This is cricket World Cup time and each time your celebrity scores a four, snatches a wicket or pulls off a sensational catch, you are preening yourself on your choice. Unfortunately in the Indian context there is another imponderable reality for sponsors. They have absolutely no control over what the celebrity does. Of course while they may not have to worry too much about their celebrity getting into a controversy (unless of course they have signed on the spin king) they have a larger headache and let me try to address this. The biggest problem is that celebrities do not have control over their own destinies and lives but belong to sports management companies to whom they are mere ‘products’ to be managed, packaged and sold aggressively for a profit- brand and celebrity fit be damned. With Dhoni endorsing no less than 25 brands that I can recall and Sachin (or his sports management company) trying hard not to be left behind we have the current captain and the former captain featuring as brand ambassadors of more brands than they really should be doing. Of course the celebrity management companies are probably laughing all the way to the bank, but are the sponsors really happy or looking over their shoulders at every new brand endorsement that their own celebrity is so cheerfully signing.