How would you react to Rahul Dravid extol Team Samsung during a David Beckham-Zinedine Zidane match? Or, when you see a Sourav Ganguly jig at an auditorium for Hero Honda after a game of scintillating football at the Euro 2004 championship?
Chances are that even if you are not a football fanatic, you will feel the dissonance. What could cricketers possibly have to do with football?
That, in short, is the problem of marketing football in a cricket-crazy country.
Except for a stray Kingfisher ad featuring ace footballer Bhaichung Bhutia and some of his team mates, Indian advertising has mostly ignored footballers, or for that matter, most of the other non-cricket athletes.
For the record, the three sponsors of the Euro 2004 championship on ESPN STAR Sports are Hero Honda, Airtel and Samsung. And, only the Airtel ad, among the on-air commercials by the three sponsors, has anything to do with football.
In the Airtel ad, Sachin Tendulkar - who used to idolise tennis superstar John McEnroe in his younger days, but with no known records of his prowess at a football field - plays street soccer in the rain.
So, despite having a superstar-cricketer as the protagonist, the Airtel commercial should work comfortably among the viewers during the tournament because of the central and common theme of "football".
However, this clearly isn't the case with the advertising of the other sponsors. The "Team Samsung" ad may feature cricket stars like Dravid, Yuvraj Singh, Virendra Sehwag and others, but what's sorely missing is the crucial link with football. The same is the case with the Hero Honda advertising .
When agencyfaqs! contacted Samsung officials for their advertising strategy for the forthcoming event, they said that the company was yet to finalise its campaign. That's odd given that the tournament begins in less than four days. It's likely that the company will be using its international ads for the event.
The other problem pertains to the structure of the game vis-a-vis cricket - in its limited overs or five-day avatar.
During a cricket telecast, every time a wicket falls, or there's a change of over, or there's a drinks interval, advertisers take over.
It's not so in footfall. Simply because the fast-paced nature of the game disallows this.
Therefore, the only time when an advertiser gets the undivided attention of the audience is when there's a 10-minute break after the first 45 minutes of play.
Sources at ESPN STAR Sports say that there will be advertising even during a football match - albeit with a difference.
"Obviously, we cannot afford to show commercials during the run of play. But we will have little tickers running at the bottom of the television screen or have logos of advertisers around the scoreboard," said a source, who declined to be quoted. Replays of important moments during the game will also carry sponsor advertisements, he added.
The premier football championship is going to be a 31-match affair spread over 23 days. The first game will be on June 12 and matches will be played on prime time at 9.30 pm every night.
For now, ESPN STAR Sports is hoping for a huge surge in viewership as popularity of soccer has increased, especially among youngsters. As per TAM Media Research (Males, 15+, SEC ABC, C&S homes), the FIFA World Cup finals registered an all-India TVR of 9.1, and in football-crazy cities like Kolkata and Kochi, the TVRs were as high as 51.9 and 29.4, respectively.
ESPN STAR Sports has launched a nation-wide campaign to promote the tournament in India. While print, radio, television and new media would be used extensively, a special emphasis is being given to outdoor advertising. The channel is also resorting to ground-level activities as a part of its promotion plan. Contests have also been lined up, which would be backed by exciting prizes that include a trip to Europe.
Apart from a regular English commentary, the channel, for the first time, has selected four Hindi commentators, who would be stationed at Singapore and would cover the championship from the studios in that city. This has been done keeping in mind the Hindi-speaking states of Uttar Pradesh, Gujarat, Haryana and Uttaranchal. Also, the star footballer Bhaichung Bhutia has been signed on as a special analyst for the tournament. © 2004 agencyfaqs!First Published : June 08, 2004