Cricket has encountered some rough weather of late. Barely had the brouhaha died down on the IPL fiasco, when spot match fixing allegedly by some Pakistani cricketers has beleaguered the sport. Amid this not all too happy scenario, ESPN is ready with the Champions League T20 tournament, which starts from September 10, 2010.
ESPN has roped in Amitabh Bachchan as brand ambassador for the Champions League. Usually Big B imparts a grace and credibility to the brand he endorses (and he endorses quite a new brands), but when exchange4media spoke to a cross-section of media planners, they had mixed reactions to the veteran Bollywood star as the brand ambassador.
Surbhi C Moorthy, Deputy General Manager, Allied Media, asked, “We have Brand Bachchan selling hair oil to toothpaste, then why not Champions League?” She further noted, “We all know the power of brand Senior AB. KBC is around the corner, so it is definitely a good time to leverage brand Big B. I saw an ad featuring Amitabh Bachchan and Andrew Symonds, and I think it is very cute. It is perfect for grabbing eyeballs. He cuts across all ages and still is the god of Indian Cinema. It is the coming together of two of the most effective mediums of highest reach – Bollywood and cricket. I think it is a great idea.”
On the other hand, Shubha George, COO, MEC, felt, “I don’t think the Champions League has leveraged Brand Amitabh Bachchan in the right manner. I really don’t get the connection. It is true that he will generate awareness and high recall value for the Champions League, but I thought there is something lacking and is not adding to the impact of the whole campaign. He has not been used in an engaging manner. I fail to see them bringing in a strong engagement and he has not been used properly. He has had a fantastic career – be it television, ads or movies – but for Champions League, he is a wasted opportunity.”
Sanjoy Chakrabarty, CEO, Dentsu Media, remarked, “So much has been talked about it. Big B’s personality lends visibility. Amitabh Bachchan as brand ambassador gives credibility and positivity to the Champions League. Using Big B is a powerful tool and is a smart move. IPL has lost credibility due to scams and all, and Big B brings respect, premium position and stature to the Champions League. Also, it helps in building mass connect, especially after IPL as a form has suffered so much.”
Giving a different view, Hema Malik, General Manager, Lodestar UM, opined that Big B was a wrong fit even though he had a wide mass reach. She noted, “I feel that the Champions League will do better this time than last year, as last time it was held during Diwali. This time, there is definitely more buzz around the tournament. Amitabh Bachchan has managed to create buzz around it and there has been basic awareness around it. This definitely could have happened with or without Bachchan. I don’t think he is the right fit as he has nothing to do with sports. The only advantage Bachchan has is to ‘massify’ it. They should have had a more youth-oriented brand ambassador for the tournament as it is watched by youngsters. He is definitely a wrong fit.”
Wrong fit or not, Big B’s stature is such that people do take notice. While Bachchan is not a personality one usually associates with sports, he can definitely pull in the crowds. Rest will depend on the participating teams’ performance. Of course, the figures at the end of the tournament will reveal whether ESPN made the right choice with Big B.