It was clear that there is no business brain that was responsible for the IPL strategy when Lalit Modi made it clear that he had back-up plans.
What back-up could you have?
Except for the ridiculous one. Shifting the Indian Premier League out of India.
That’s like playing the English Premier League in the USA or the Euro in Africa.
The essence of a product like this is the ability to raise the involvement of residents of defined parts of the country, building relationships with them, getting them to feel an inalienable part of the team and finally getting them to watch the matches, follow the team’s progress, getting them to buy products and services associated with ‘their’ team.
For sponsors, advertisers and franchisees, the first edition of the IPL was manna from heaven.
It delivered eyeballs for the television broadcast, it filled the stadia, it sold goods and services.
And it was exciting, because each following year promised to deliver more.
And now it’s been reduced to just another cricket tournament being played in some other part of the world.
As I write this, no one knows where.
And no one knows the schedule of matches.
And no one knows who the broadcaster is.
And no one knows at what rate inventory and sponsorships on air will be available.
And you can forget about any ground level activation plans.
And you can put your head in your hands and weep silently if you’re someone like Sunsilk who invested heavily in an activity with NDTV Imagine, to identify Indian cheerleaders.
And who does one blame for the state of affairs?
I’ll blame the large media agencies and the large advertisers. With the uncertainty continuing in an unending saga, the media agencies should have made it clear that they would not recommend a product they have no control over and little information on, especially since clients’ revenues were depending on timely delivery of the event. Not just timely delivery; clients need to know well in advance when and where the matches would be held so that communication could be created that would deliver the returns that clients wanted from their considerable investments.
But, they acted as kidnap victims do – they developed the Stockholm Syndrome, falling in love with their kidnapper, the BCCI. Stay close to the BCCI, tolerate all that the BCCI throws at you – and hope that the BCCI might treat you better.
Perhaps the Indian cricketing world needs another Kerry Packer to shake up the establishment. They’re complacent to a point of arrogance. And it’s time that the key supporters of the establishment, the media agencies and the advertisers, realise that, whatever happens, kidnappers are just that – kidnappers.
For the record, here’s the wikipedia definition of Stockholm Syndrome:
Stockholm syndrome is a psychological response sometimes seen in abducted hostages, in which the hostage shows signs of loyalty to the hostage-taker, regardless of the danger or risk in which they have been placed.
For hostages, read media agencies and advertisers. For hostage-taker, read BCCI.
(Photo courtesy: Shepscrook)