ICC Cricket World Cup 2011: Aiming for 'The Cup that Counts'

By Ashwini Gangal , afaqs!, Mumbai | In Advertising | January 28, 2011
The International Cricket Council (ICC) has released a large-scale communication campaign that echoes the pre-World Cup spirit of cricket enthusiasts.

The International Cricket Council (ICC) has released a large-scale communication campaign for the upcoming Cricket World Cup (CWC) 2011. The tournament, which kickstarts on February 19, will be held across India, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh, and will witness 14 nations battling for cricket's most coveted prize. The worldwide campaign was kicked off during the first week of January.

The campaign has been created by Ogilvy Mumbai. The media duties are with Maxus Global, Mumbai. The activation agency involved is OgilvyAction, Mumbai, while the digital agency on the account is OgilvyOne Worldwide, Mumbai.

The positioning line of the campaign is 'The Cup That Counts'. Navin Talreja, managing partner, Ogilvy India, says, "About 1,000 matches were played between the last ICC Cricket World Cup and this one, but a World Cup in any sport has been and will continue to be the pinnacle of achievement. The positioning line serves as a reminder of this very simple fact to all cricket fans."

Talreja explains that the campaign deliberately moves away from the conventional amplification of the core idea approach across media. Instead, the messaging strategy reflects different facets of 'The Cup That Counts' from the point of view of the teams, players and the fans.

The campaign was broken with the launch of a television commercial titled Tightrope. The film, appearing in three-minute and 60-second versions, captures the passion, celebration, competition and fun associated with the game of cricket. The TVC shows the captains of most of the participating nations walking on tightropes leading to a giant trophy. These tightrope walkers are clad in the official jerseys and are shown wearing masks bearing pictures of the captains of the various participating teams. More than 400 fans from various countries are shown cheering them and running around in joy.

The film was shot across the city of Jaipur, over five days. Professional tightrope artists were flown in from the USA and the UK to film the commercial.

The film has been directed by Bob of Good Morning Films, and Dhruv Ghanekar has composed the music. The launch campaign is being supported by print and outdoor, shot by international photographer Palani Chandramohan.

The creative team at Ogilvy includes Piyush Pandey, executive chairman and creative director (South Asia), Abhijit Avasthi and Rajiv Rao, national creative directors, Sukesh Nayak and Heeral Ahkaury, senior creative directors, Hemal Jhaveri, associate creative director, and Vinit Sanghvi, art director.

Explaining the concept, Avasthi says, "Every country, every player and every fan has only one wish -- to win the race to the cup. However, this is no ordinary race. It is full of obstacles and surprises. To win this race, each player will need to literally walk on a tightrope. Keeping this in mind, we decided to use a metaphor and depicted a tightrope race to the cup that counts."

In addition to this launch campaign, another campaign featuring iconic players from the sub-continent was also broken recently --a series of three 40-second commercials starring Sachin Tendulkar (India), Muttiah Muralitharan (Sri Lanka) and Shakib Ul Hasan (Bangladesh), respectively. This campaign plays upon a deep personal wish that these cricketing legends are fostering -- to bring the cup home.

All three films are monologues featuring these players. Piyush Raghani of Old School Films has directed the films. This campaign, too, is supported by print and outdoor.

Moreover, the official ICC CWC 2011 event theme song, titled 'De Ghumaa Ke', has been released on radio channels across the country. The song has been composed and sung by the musical trio of Shankar Ehsaan Loy. The same song will be adapted in local languages for Sri Lanka and Bangladesh.

A music video featuring the trio and ICC CWC 2011's official mascot, Stumpy, is also in the pipeline.

Further, the campaign includes a slew of contests and BTL (below-the-line) initiatives to help spread the CWC 2011 buzz.

Across the venue cities, 'Official Countdown Clocks' are being placed at airports and popular malls. Uniquely designed ICC CWC 2011 branded vans have also been readied. Radio stations are set to run contests to help fans win tickets.

As a part of ICC's CSR (corporate social responsibility) and youth outreach initiative, Ogilvy India has also rolled out a nation-wide school contact programme along with UNAIDS. The programme reached out to eight cities, 70 schools and more than 10,000 students, who got a chance to learn about AIDS awareness and also participated in an inter-school Mini Cricket World Cup Tournament.

Does the campaign work?

The response to the campaign has been lukewarm.

Ramanuj Shastry, national creative director, Saatchi & Saatchi thinks the ads are "very average", and that the agency could have done much better, specifically with respect to the copy and the execution.

"With stars such as Sachin and Murali, and a platform like the World Cup, I feel they could have done a lot more," he says. He adds that the tightrope metaphor, an idea that's pretty much "the first thought that comes to mind in this context", didn't really work for him. Explaining why it is so, he says, "The metaphor is so direct that it works fine the first time, but has no repeat watch value."

Regarding the film with Tendulkar, which plays on the reality that India is eagerly waiting for the next World Cup victory, Shastry says, "Sports allows you to do so much. Using the whole 'waiting for the next win' bit is nothing new."

Satbir Singh, chief creative officer, Euro RSCG India agrees with Shastry. "When you're given three cricketers who can't speak "hello" into the camera, there isn't much you can do, apart from shooting them from various angles and superimposing actual cricket footage on them," he says.

"In keeping with the sports advertising genre worldwide, the athletes look suitably angry, constipated and inarticulate," he adds.

He further adds that he doesn't really mind the Tightrope film just as he didn't mind the Nike cricket film. "Perhaps, both reflect the chaotic energy of much of the sub-continent," Singh explains, adding that the man slipping off, but hanging on in the Tightrope film works pretty well in capturing the ups and downs of the game.

On a humorous note, Singh signs off with, "Indeed, I don't mind anything as long as India wins the cup!"

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