The Essel Group-promoted Indian Cricket League (ICL) is all set to test the waters in domestic cricket in India. The T20 matches that commence on November 30, 2007 and would continue till December 16, 2007 would be aired on Zee Sports.
The mass marketing campaign has already commenced. ICL has earmarked Rs 100 crore for the marketing of ICL’s activities and creating further awareness over the next two years. While O&M is the creative agency, Madison is the media agency behind this marketing exercise. Ashish Kaul, Senior Vice-President, Essel Group, explained that one of the steps for the marketing of the forthcoming series was the telecast of the first 30 minutes of all the matches across all Zee channels, with the exception of the movie channels.
“For cricket, these initiatives have happened for the first time in the world. Nowhere has domestic cricket received such a huge platform. This has prompted all distributors to come together and sign various deals with Zee Sports. Our marketing initiatives have generated a lot of interest, especially in the heartland in markets like Punjab, Uttar Pradesh and the south,” said Kaul.
Sources divulged that ICL had even signed on three co-presenting and ground sponsors in Birla Financial Services, Reliance Telecom and Manikchand. However when quested, Kaul said, “There are various deals that are being signed. We should have a grip on all the sponsors by November 29, 2007.”
However, he did divulge that the likes of Big FM had come on board as partners for the event. He also informed that the marketing included on-ground activities such as road shows in shopping districts, schools, colleges and universities in Punjab, and that ICL had been interactive in its marketing to facilitate some youngsters who were interested in cricket to be able to watch these matches free of cost.
There is a lot planned for the event as well. ICL has organised a ‘star gallery’ at the event, which would see celebrities from Bollywood to television to even big wigs like chief ministers, Anil Ambani and Shashi Ruia watching the matches. Moreover, there is much excitement over the performance of Kareena Kapoor at the opening ceremony on November 30, 2007. Some of the other names who would perform on subsequent days include Yana Gupta, Akshay Kumar and Himesh Reshammiya.
ICL has also tried to bring in international practices to the series. In addition to tying up with Ranbaxy for a drug testing facility, they have also set up a security system that would monitor activities of players as a check against corruption. “The objective is to ensure that all the matches are held with transparency. ICL’s intent is to change the landscape – not promoting international stars, but to give a world class platform to domestic cricket.”
The six competing teams are Mumbai Champs, Chandigarh Lions, Delhi Jets, Kolkata Tigers, Hyderabad Heroes and Chennai Superstars. The matches would take place at the Tau Devi Stadium at Panchkula, Chandigarh.