The Indian Premier League (IPL) is a brand that has had a meteoric rise in success in a span of just three years. While there are brands that have existed for years and are still battling with the basics of brand recall, IPL, which was built from scratch, came and conquered with élan, The credit for this, of course, goes to its now suspended Commissioner Lalit Kumar Modi, who calls IPL his baby and rightly so. The worry now is that after having created such a successful brand, will Modi’s fall from grace take down brand IPL with it?
Opinion is sharply divided on how much the Modi episode has tainted brand IPL. After all, the brand is just not restricted to a one man show, though it has been Modi’s brainchild. There are popular figures associated with the teams, which is a heady mix of power, money, Bollywood and glamour and that’s a potent combination that won’t die down so easily with a controversy or two.
Dr Vijay Mallya, Mukesh and Nita Ambani, Shah Rukh and Gauri Khan, Preity Zinta, Ness Wadia, and Shilpa Shetty, to name a few, are the owners and add the glam factor off the field, while on-field there are the likes of Sachin Tendulkar, MS Dhoni, Shane Warne, Rahul Dravid, Sourav Ganguly, and Jacques Kallis, among others, feeding the hopes of a cricket crazy nation. It is this mix of cricket and glamour that has made IPL such a success today, and it will be difficult to break all this up just like that.
Sandip Tarkas, President, Customer Strategy, Future Group, rightly said, “I feel, it will get affected temporarily, but still in the longer run, the premise and the brand are strong. It is because a lot of muck has been thrown due to early exposure to the brand. The wrongdoings need to be punished.”
Nikhil Rangnekar, Executive Director, India West, Starcom Worldwide, echoed the same sentiment, when he said, “I don’t think it will have any impact on IPL. There are too many vested interests with a lot of money invested in IPL to let one man rock the entire ship. There are team owners, BCCI, sponsors, broadcasters, players, for whom this is an important and lucrative source of income, and they will make sure that they don’t get impacted adversely. Besides, many team owners are corporates, who have the experience of managing businesses larger than the collective valuation of IPL, and they could potentially offer their services to help in managing IPL in a controversy free manner. Consumers, too, have tasted blood with this and they will demand the continuation of IPL in future. When did we have non-stop 45 days of entertainment in the past?”
The truth here being that IPL has proved to be a successful entertainer and nothing beats entertainment, not even some mudslinging. As Divya Radhakrishan, President, TME, explained, “I think, by next year when IPL comes, everything will be forgotten as it is a year ahead. Indian memory is too short. It’s just a hype which is being created right now, because it’s an immediate effect.”
Sameer Nair, CEO, Imagine TV, too felt that the whole IPL and Lalit Modi controversy had been blown out of proportion. Having said that, he added, “IPL is truly an amazing creation in the world of cricket, and it is a very solid and robust creation. IPL is bigger than any individual.”
But as every issue has two sides, there is also a faction that believes that the Modi episode will affect the IPL brand. N Padmakumar, NCD, Everest Brand Solutions, noted, “Yes, it will affect brand IPL as it will indicate the murky operations in IPL. The moment Modi is sacked, it will taint the image of IPL and will automatically cast a shadow on the IPL tournament itself in the forthcoming years as also the transparency in the operations. There will be a question mark on IPL as a body and a system.”
On a similar note, Lloyd Mathias, President and CMO, Tata Teleservices, added, “Yes, I feel in the short term the IPL brand will suffer as Modi was totally involved with the creation and conceptualisation of IPL. Because he was a single point in-charge, quick decision making that helped further the brand IPL to grow. In the long term, IPL will retain its status.”
(With additional inputs by Pallavi Goorha Kashup and Khushboo Tanna.)