afaqs!

Is brand IPL on a downslide?

By Shibani Gharat , afaqs!, Mumbai | In Media Publishing | May 22, 2012
Caught amidst a bevy of controversies in the past few days, is brand IPL on a back foot or will the controversies actually help the brand score in its final leg?

In the recent past, the Indian Premier League has been mired in controversies. Whether it is the Mumbai Cricket Association banning Shahrukh Khan for five years from entering Wankhede Stadium, Royal Challengers player Luke Pomersbach's arrest on charges of molesting an American woman and the corresponding 'character assassination' tweet by Siddharth Mallya, or the very recent arrest of IPL players at a rave party in Mumbai, IPL has lived up to its reputation of being controversy's favourite child. afaqs! finds out whether IPL as a brand has taken a nosedive or if these controversies have actually helped the brand strike a six!

Harish Bijoor

Santosh Desai

K S Chakravarthy

Anuradha Agarwal

Jagdeep Kapoor

Harish Bijoor, CEO, Harish Bijoor Consults

Brand IPL is not going down. Cricket is a young game in a country like India. Most of the cricketers or those associated with cricket are young. These are the guys who are at the prime of their lives. They are managing their game along with their hormones. It is a personal life vs. the public life that we are speaking about. We should not pass moralistic judgments on cricketers and what they do off the field.

But, at the end of the day, I believe that controversies will help brand IPL. It is ironical to say this, but it will. Brands are a function of recent memories. These memories could comprise of both positive and negative memories. I mean to say, just look at IPL in its final leg - it is sizzling!

Santosh Desai, managing director and chief executive officer, Futurebrands India

IPL as a brand is about celebrating the spectacles and entertainment. It is about 'masala' and not the sport per se. It is a feature sport, just like a feature film. Strictly speaking, if such controversies had taken place in a pure sporting event, it would have marred the image of the event. But, IPL is a different story. It is packaged in a way such that it simply goes beyond the sport of cricket. It is not a pure, clean sport to get affected by these events.

But, the recent events have taken my attention away from cricket. I have forgotten to see what is happening on the field. I am more updated with the events off the field. But, these events certainly add to the entertainment value of brand IPL.

K S Chakravarthy, national creative director, Draftfcb Ulka

IPL as a brand is extremely powerful. So, I really do not think that such controversies will affect the brand. But, it would not help the brand either. Because of the controversies that the brand is surrounded with, it won't go back to its original glory, but will continue to be as it is running in its current state. The people being affected are not the main players in the tournament. Had that been the case, then it would have been a different ball game altogether.

Anuradha Agarwal, vice-president, brand communication and insight, Vodafone Essar

Being one of the biggest sponsors of IPL, Vodafone has been associated with brand IPL for many years now. Without speaking about any controversies related to the IPL, I would say that cricket continues to be a passion in India. It is a sport that every Indian watches and enjoys. Besides, IPL is not just one of the largest brand properties but one of the largest media properties in India. It gives a brand such as Vodafone a lot of eyeballs and a consumer engagement platform. We continue to be associated with the brand and are hopeful of its growth and success in the coming days.

Jagdeep Kapoor, chairman and managing director, Samsika Marketing Consultants

A week of controversies will not make the brand weak. But, one should also understand that IPL as a brand is marketed really well, not just in India but also abroad. It is one of India's good exports. Hence, it is important for the brand to go on from here.

IPL as a brand runs on three things: transparency, credibility and a combination of cricket, Bollywood and entertainment. With Bollywood coming into the picture, you should expect some sort of Mirch Masala. But, the core of cricket as a sport should not be compromised. If a brand is already that strong, you have to tread on a path that makes it stronger. Hence, it is best to move ahead with cricket as its core thread - which is a gentleman's game, at the end of the day.

There should be measures to not let people go out of the line. Only this will help brand IPL grow and not stagnate where it is currently.

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