Market experts believe that the IPL spot fixing controversy will not majorly affect the brand value of the sponsors. Of-late three players of Rajasthan Royals were arrested on spot fixing charges. This has revealed many other names including Chennai Super Kings CEO, Gurunath Meyiyappan. Should the sponsors associated with the teams and the IPL property worry about their credibility as well?
Industry says a firm no. “If the brand is associated with an individual and if that particular individual is dented, then there is a huge possibility of the brand losing its credibility. Like it happened in case of Tiger Woods and Salman Khan! In this case, the entire team cannot be wrong and involved in the scandal. A few individual are involved and they should be firmly dealt with. I pertinently believe that in such a case, brands should lie a bit low and should be less vocal, but it would be inappropriate to discontinue their association with the team. There is no question of brands losing their credibility in any form,” said Anand Halve, Branding Expert and Partner at Chlorophyll.
After the allegations of spot fixing in the tournament, the brand equity of IPL has gone down substantially, and the perception of every match being fixed has robustly evolved in the minds of audience. Apart from this, the involvement of actor Vindoo Dara Singh and fingers being pointed at the CSK CEO, a complete new angle of the scandal is emerging. It is also alleged that the bookies and the fixers have robust links with the underworld.
Although leading sponsors and partners of the teams have straightforwardly denied any dent in the trust quotient between the teams and themselves, investigations are revealing new names everyday and the network of nexus is allegedly getting bigger. Responding to an earlier story Arshad Nizam, Director, Alliance Advertising, who handles Kent RO for RR had said, “It is only the three players who are linked to all this. As a team, we have one of the most credible captains in the form of Rahul Dravid and other players too are clean. Kent RO stands for purity, and till date Rajasthan Royals have been best identified with fair play. Although, we have taken off all communications featuring Sreesanth! There are other important things to be focussed on in IPL and not only spot fixing. Our association with the brand Rajasthan Royals remains intact and we are not perturbed with the ongoing controversies.”
Anindya Ray, VP, Lodestar UM said, “Brands are too big to get maligned because of IPL. It is just one tournament. Brands endorse many other things throughout the year. Audience is smart enough to understand what is wrong and what is not. Just because some players are tainted, does not imply that the entire team and subsequently their sponsors are tainted as well. It is easy to differentiate a few rotten eggs from the fresh ones.”
Vishal Raj, Independent Media Analyst said, “Brands may get affected if the leadership nexus emerges out. If the CSK CEO is also booked and found guilty, I firmly believe that a brand should withdraw sponsorship. It would be unhealthy association. But having said this, I also believe that a brand stands for its core value, which is far stronger than any individual tournament such as this one.”
Market experts also believe that the way this crisis would be handled by the BCCI, team managements, the better it would be for the brands and their association. “Crisis come and go. Salman was ruled out some time back and all the brands withdrew their endorsements. But now everybody is back on board. It all depends upon how one handles the crisis. There have been various case studies in the past which have established the fact that the way a crisis is handled determines the future course of the partners associated with it,” said Nikesh Dutta, a Branding Consultant.
As of now, there should be no harm to the brands associated with the teams, but the industry is keeping a close watch on the developments in the investigations. Sponsors are likely to follow a precautious approach next time as IPL 6 would end soon but the investigations have only begun!