The knives were out. Is IPL dying? Is IPL dead? Is IPL a spent force? Is cricket passé?
When doubts are raised the knights step out of the darkness brandishing gleaming swords. Pepsi did just that with a whopper……. Nearly double of what DLF paid, and walked away with one of the biggest prize in Indian sport: Pepsi IPL.
Just a few weeks ago, advertising, media and marketing pundits were sounding the death knells for the IPL. Everyone loves to play the prediction game, who doesn’t, and just a few days back one top manager associated with some mega brands, made a sweeping statement: “It will be the most difficult time for IPL to find another title sponsor…..and if they do they won’t even get what DLF paid.”
When DLF went to press and announced it would not continue with its title rights, the rumour mills were at full strength and the IPL innings was almost declared as over (somewhat like what everyone’s whispering in corridors about the little master and his innings in International cricket). “What allows a company or a brand to bust Rs 40 crores or more in a short season?” the pundits wondered.
Does the economy have the monies? Does the flagging mood on the bourses suggest a pull back? There were more questions.
For five years, DLF paid 40 crores a year. Did they get value from it? Did they leverage the association? Did they milk the opportunity? The questions can be added, and the debate can continue till the cows come home. Yes it did make some Indians abroad know a little more about a realty giant called DLF, but the maximum value generated was the rub-off, and very little else.
Now it’s time for some ‘fizz’. Pepsi has helped break some rules (for which they are well known), and went to the hustings with a bid that nearly doubled what DLF paid. It was finally a two-horse race, and why the others backed off is a guess where yours is as good as mine. Was it fear? Or worry? Of being too high? Or too low? Been seen as a ‘waster’ or ‘ a loser’ ? A bid is a bid, and it is not for the faint hearted as Pepsi showed.
Well now that the first battle has been won, Pepsi will have to turn the heat on from much before the first ball is bowled. All over the cricket world it will be Pepsi IPL. Whether the fan in England or New Zealand , Australia or the US is rooting for the Delhi Daredevil or the Chennai Super Kings, it will unite the international fan with an international brand that further makes it an international event.
This is not about Pepsi India. It’s about global brands realizing the width and depth of such opportunities that have transcended boundaries. Whether the global giant managed to get its marketing heads from cricketing countries to loosen their purse strings and pitch in with some monies or not will never really be known. But the fact that the international acceptance of an Indian cricket product with such a price tag sure makes us all feel proud that the Indian curry has found international flavour and favour.
One could actually visualise a Pepsi IPL promotion in neighbouring Sri Lanka , Nepal , Bangladesh ( and why not Pakistan), where winners are flown into Kolkata, Chennai, Bangalore, Chandigarh , Mumbai or Delhi. The net is cast and the fish out there to come in swarms.
Of course with all the muck being chucked around ‘realty’ and the big names in it, some of it might have stuck on the glittering IPL trophy. Now that is conjecture and history.
But a new history is all set to be made as finally the IPL moves into the big league… from the Indian Premier League to a truly International Premier League.
Navroze D Dhondy, founder and managing director, Creatigies Communications. He can be reached on firstname.lastname@example.org.