Now that India has won the ICC Cricket World Cup 2011, all the ‘ifs’ and ‘buts’ are gone. World Cup 2011 was a dream tournament – for the Indian viewers, for broadcasters ESPN Star Sports and Doordarshan (who gets a free ride in these events of ‘national significance’), for advertisers and hence, media service brand professionals, for news media and even for the likes of restaurants, malls and hoteliers.
Let’s not speak numbers – for the sentiment of the win, the numbers that TAM Sports will eventually show, may not even mean much to advertisers. May be when the sentiment subsides in a week or two, some may question some numbers. Just a day before the India-Sri Lanka final, a leading advertiser called me immediately after our report on the TAM Sports six-metro numbers to say, ‘I am surprised with the 22+ rating for India-Pakistan. The way that match was and the frenzy around it, one would have expected a 25+ at an all-India level!’
I argued if you looked at all previous comparable matches, this was the BIG THING. But I am not sure I convinced him, I am not sure he was even open to a discussion actually. In our fraternity, the India-Pakistan passion is not limited just to the game - it spills over everything else, including ratings.
The advertisers, media agencies and creative agencies have lived an experience of a lifetime. I can already imagine brand stories on awards platforms, on credential presentations and pitches or just in social conversations that one is going to hear in days to come.
The difference between ads made to be released on the World Cup and the ads made for the World Cup became clearer.
As far as I am concerned, none of the telecom brands, despite all kinds of resources and budgets at their disposal, managed to come on the side of ads made for the World Cup.
Dear friend Agnello Dias, however, should be on top of the world. At least I was, when the commentator referred to a Dhoni-shot in the final on April 2 as the ‘helicopter’ shot, and my mother said, ‘Oh, they took that from Pepsi’. I did not correct her that it was the other way round, it was not important in that moment. But that, along with Sehwag’s Upar-Cut in the India-Pakistan match, were ‘Pepsi’s proud moments, courtesy TapRoot India’.
If it was not seen enough on the hoardings, the commentators managed the rest for Nike and JWT’s ‘Bleed Blue’. Late in the overall tournament, but well done Nike.
On India’s victory, when my society broke into a ‘De Ghuma Ke’, Ogilvy India came to my mind. If only that anthem was played enough by the broadcasters, we would have a real World Cup anthem to show off.
My views on surrogate advertising not coming in the way, McDowell should throw a party for managing the creative it had featuring MS Dhoni and for the L-shaped ads every time India hit a boundary, and their good luck that the winning boundaries came when Mahi was on the pitch. Till then, MediaCom’s Volkswagen Blue with The Times of India was on top of the ‘gambles that paid off’ list.
I know – we are going to hear many more brand stories of the World Cup 2011.
ESPN Star Sports – boy should they be thanking their Gods. Not only is the crazy amount they spent bidding for the tournaments looking forgivable now (not to mention even in that, they had managed some good luck), but they also managed to really name their price for anyone who was not on the platform till the crunch matches. How many actually paid that, I don’t know yet – no new advertiser was visible enough to stick, but March 30 and April 2 were ESPN’s big days/nights in spite of the forced simulcast with Doordarshan.
And there was entertainment on the sidelines as well. News channels had gone ballistic over ICC’s ban on covering the semi-final and final matches. What was ICC thinking, or even ESPN Star Sports thinking? An ICC-news media contract is like signing an agreement with the devil – things will not go as you hoped and there will be a price to pay because they helped you in times you were low and weak. Smart thinking ICC to reverse your decision. What the instance also did was highlight how much news media was holding back to support ICC. I am not even going to get into how fair or unfair that was – it is a new journalistic world, and there are too many new rules for one to question any.
So, in all, the ICC Cricket World Cup 2011 was the best blockbuster in the last 28 years. It had masala, it had the heroes, it had different storylines contributing to one master screenplay that had a nation united and spellbound - full paisa vasool.