The path to the 19th Commonwealth Games (CWG) in Delhi was paved with severe criticisms and allegations of widespread corruption and shoddy preparations. Now, with the grand spectacle of the opening ceremony on October 3, 2010, the criticisms seem to have vanished overnight.
So, does this mean that CWG as a property has suddenly turned attractive to many advertisers after its stupendous opening innings, or is it status quo and the property remains as ‘thanda’ as it always has been? exchange4media finds out from a cross-section of the advertising industry.
Rohit Ohri, Managing Partner, JWT Delhi, very clearly stated that this was not a missed opportunity. He affirmed, “From a brand building perspective, for advertisers CWG is not a miss despite its fantastic opening. For any event, the opportunity for the brand comes in the pre-event communication, which then builds up anticipation and culminates in the opening of the event. In the case of CWG, this clearly did not happen as there was no planned communication involving brands prior to the event. The opening ceremony may have got the eyeballs, but that’s about it, the sporting event would really not capture the viewers.”
It is clear that while the opening got eyeballs, the competition itself doesn’t seem to be lucrative at all. Giving his point of view, Sandeep Pathak, CEO, Bates 141, said, “The opening and closing ceremonies will be most watched, but beyond that there is no sporting event that has been positioned as an attractive property where India is expected to win, like boxing, tennis or weight lifting. If an effort was made to position these games well, then advertisers would have been on these as well. Not being unpatriotic, if given a choice between the India-Australia cricket series and CWG, I would put my monies on the former and I guess that says it all.”
Definitely, these are strong words and say a lot about why advertisers, who spend a lot on any other sporting events, are shying away from CWG.
As Shubha George, COO, MEC, noted, “The sentiments are high after the opening ceremony, but it still doesn’t translate into a blockbuster. I think media had gone overboard in its negative publicity and the same is happening with the praise. Reality is to take the middle ground. This is not a hot property, but it’s not a bad property either.”
Explaining this further, George said that for Doordarshan viewers, whose regular programming had been reshuffled to air CWG, they would still be watching some of the sports, and for those advertisers who target DD viewers, it would make sense to be on CWG.
In fact, the plethora of ads that dotted the opening ceremony telecast on Doordarshan comprised mostly PSUs, Navratna and Mini-Ratna corporations and government-owned banks and financial institutions, besides the Incredible India tourism ads.
This point is also raised by Kajal Malik, Vice President, Lintas Media Group, who said, “The opening ceremony was a moment of India’s pride and a phenomenal opportunity. In the time band of 6-10 Sec A and B, Female 15-44 non C&S homes (aMap), the TVR was 12, which means it jumped almost three times. Within C&S, too, the opening and closing ceremonies will see good numbers. If India performs well there too, viewership will rise. We are watching the ratings on a day to day basis, especially for our clients for whom being on DD homes are crucial. One of our clients was on the opening day and it has worked tremendously for them.”
Avinash Pillai, National Buying Director, Mediacom, commented, “There was a lot of negative publicity around the CWG, especially emphasising on corruption. This was the reason that most advertisers stayed away from associating with the CWG. Advertisers always stay away from any event that has negative tones surrounding it.”
He further said, “The entire country is filled with positive reviews about the opening ceremony and it garnered a high viewership. The social media, too, is buzzing with good to great reviews about the event. However, associating with the event with such negative press surrounding it would have been a big gamble for advertisers.”