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Media planners reeling under willow fever

18-June-2004
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Media planners reeling under willow fever

The cricket gods are as pleased as punch. On one hand you have the great ICC Champion’s Trophy that is scheduled for September 10 to 25, involving the complete array of 10 willow-crazy nations, joined by Kenya and USA making it a 12-team fray for the top slot. On the other, you have the Asia Cup (a mini World Cup of sorts), which would be taking place between July 16 and August 2, featuring teams like Pakistan, Bangladesh, Hong Kong, Sri Lanka, India and the UAE. If that’s not all, there’s more to pamper your cricket passion. Holland Cup has sneaked its way into the scheme of things and would be bringing in a three-way war among three world champions – Pakistan, Australia and India. And, all of this would be topped with a spill over between India and South Africa.

For the average planner, it’s a catch-22 state. Amidst this cricket mania, what funds to be diverted from where? Of the entire bunch, which tournament should be focussed? Which could the best slots? Which option would offer the best value for money? A media planner is sure to be plagued by such confusions over the days of willow fever.

Says PRP Nair, Vice President, RK Swamy/BBDO, “Planners are still trying to make sense of the trillion cricket offerings on the platter and the kind of adjustments they would have to make, in order to accommodate the new flow of funds. Since the cricket season will be followed by the festive season (when advertising is supposed to be at its peak), it makes our job a lot more difficult. Most brands would prefer compromising on cricket, rather than compromising on the festive season, when consumers are out to part with their moolah.”

Nair adds, “Either way, any brand (big or small) can only afford to divert its full energy, only towards one particular tournament, which means that the various offerings are in fact eating into each other’s share. Mass channels could be affected to some extent during the cricket season, but we do not expect a landslide fall.”

For us, the prettiest in the flock is evidently the Dutch challenge, where the Indian blue brigade would take on the Paki greens and the Aussie yellows – both closest to the heart. Hiren Pandit, GM, Mindshare states, “The Holland Cup is undoubtedly the hot favourite amongst buyers, as it features three teams that are relevant to any quintessential Indian, and gives us a lot more time in the spotlight. In other two events, India gets to play only a limited number of matches and hence, there could be some amount of wastage there. Overall, spends would be prioritised based on the seasonality of the brand, and no radical changes are expected on this front. Going by the revenue generation, mass channels may be on the losing side – but only to a small extent.”

Pandit adds, “If there is any fall in the moolah of the mass channels, they will more than make up for it during the festival season, when FMCG and electronic goods will be on an advertising spree.”

Harish Shriyan, Vice-President, Mediacom, believes that cricket is perhaps the best possible way of reaching out to a nation-wide audience, which is why all buyers are looking for the best buys on either of the three. “Festive season or not, cricket is cricket. Brands would naturally divide their time between the three main tournaments. Holland Cup looks like the best bid because it offers a lot more spotlight for India. However, most of the smaller advertisers would prefer concentrating on one particular tournament, rather than juggling it all together.”

He adds, “Consequences would be felt on the mass channels, but it would be marginal. Big advertisers would continue with their existing commitments on mass channels, but new money would not step in until the cricket season is over.”

Well, that’s the verdict from the media camp. Planners are still juggling the major tournaments, the prettiest one being cited as the Holland Cup. And mass channels would feel the repercussions, though they would amount to being quakes of a minor kind.

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