Kochi sacked, SRK banned, Modi fired, Spot-fixing emerges. Barring spot-fixing accusations in IPL6, IPL has remained as a premium brand – Pepsi paid Rs 400 Crores for five years’ rights if that is some indication to brand’s worth. Most brands save their marketing budgets for the marquee cricket tournament, which begins right the beginning of the financial year, when the marketing budgets are hot. Zoozoos come out of the closet (oh, this year was an overdose), brands like Godrej center on IPL to publish Aamir on the idiot box. All in all, IPL is a big property. But with spot-fixing and CSK chief being interrogated, do we have the IPL going down the drain? An article on Firstpost encouraged Pepsi to pull out of IPL (its too late now!), with their signature message of Oh, Yes, Abhi! Like out-of-form players lose their endorsement deals, IPL might lose its endorsements, given broadcasters charge heavily for IPL ads and branding activities around the tournament.
I personally see IPL as desi version of EPL, Serie A, Bundesliga or La Liga, with only two major differences a) IPL is relatively too new and b) money involved cannot be compared. Having said that, IPL was a great brainchild of Modi who understood the growing influence of T20, the ‘instant gratification’ format of cricket. Begin the matches at 8 PM and crowd won’t mind up till midnight indulgence. IPL is a great property that has picked up very quickly. Consumerism of more than a billion is humungous and enviable for sports body of any country in the world. You have the biggest Indian industrialists putting their stake in the league. Sony Television had lured brands to invest into the league in an unprecedented manner.
Now, with the spot-fixing accusations, the brand is tainted. CSK owner is taken into custody, and it’s anyone’s guess how deep-rooted corruption is. That’s like breaking the spine of a brand that had almost sent the whole nation into a frenzy. The brand is also displaying hypocrisy by altogether ignoring the controversy and continuing with the tournament (it’s a debatable topic). It could be a classic case of a product downgrade leading to brand downgrade. I don’t have a report on TRPs but social media feeds do indicate that people are losing interest in IPL. To re-construct the consumer confidence and brand, BCCI would need to regain the consumer loyalty once again, otherwise IPL might become a gaffe, a Goliath brand.