14 teams, 49 one day international matches, 44 days and a whopping $10,225,000 worth of prize money! That is precisely, ICC Cricket world cup 2015 to numbers and economics enthusiasts. What lies beneath is a crafted, careful and
comprehensive branding strategy that makes the plinth of the golden edifice of perennial coveting this game builds. It is no more just a game, the World Cup has grown as a media event with each tournament. The aims are predominantly making the game more and more fan-friendly and to reach out to communities throughout Australia and New Zealand, the joint hosts for 2015.
The ICC sold broadcasting rights of the 2015 Cricket World Cup for US$2 billion to ESPN Star Sports and Star Sports. This sure is an indication that fans covet this event and since there is so much money, there has to be a sort of brand building already done – very carefully and methodically. This article discusses the branding strategy (what steps exactly make this game so lucrative for the organizers) condensed into 3 C’s – captivation, continuation and clutching.
According to an article in The Economist, when India’s national side plays a big game, an estimated 400m watch on television and cricket is the most popular media product in India. World’s second largest population and an average of 400million views – that is India for ICC.
ICC made its move by naming Sachin Tendulkar as the 2015 Cricket World Cup Ambassador by it for the second time, after 2011 Cricket World Cup where he was the official event ambassador. This strikes captivation instantly in the huge Indian fan base. And, to captivate this huge audience, Star Sports came out with its edgy advertisement, (‘Mauka’) that amusingly shows frustration of a Pakistani fan. After the very first advertisement, there were about 12 million views online. Striking the right chord, the right time. India did win the match following the very first advertisement, leading to huge popularity.
A spokesperson of the marketing team at Star Sports says, “Our routine is to script for both outcomes of the next game,” the spokesperson explained. But each advertisement is tweaked before a match depending on the fan sentiment closer to the game. Whether be it dynamic tweaking of advertisements or alignment with festivals like Holi, the marketers know how to keep a tab on viewers. These viral campaigns have a ‘desi’ touch but also appeal to the Indian diaspora across the world. Apart from this the online retailers like Amazon and Flipkart are flooded with World Cup merchandise and Indians usually like to don a blue Indian team’s t-shirt while the season is on, many buy video games and many others even buy books like cricketer’s autobiographies more during the season. Amazon for example has rolled out a LBW Kit (Lay’s before wicket), available exclusively on the website. All this measures of retaining the ‘connection’ with fans can be called ‘continuation’ of captivation. Viral videos may die after a point in time, to keep them flexible, fresh and funny is the key that has worked very well for marketers this season.
As a last step, branding is also about engraving a brand into customer’s minds. So did ICC World Cup did. Be it an addition in the fan base every year through interview telecasts (of popular cricketers), interactive talk shows that are created especially for the season (recently, MS Dhoni’s interactive session with children was aired for a number of times), merchandise or through newspaper articles specially crafted for brand building, ICC, Star Sports, ESPN and all the others involved have left no stone unturned to ‘clutch’ the audiences for longer and leave them yearning for more – thereby augmenting the ‘perennial’ nature of brand. Use of social media to keep youth engaged and updated, the advent of world cup special apps are all a measure of clutching the fans even when the game is not that interesting or there is
paucity of time. The tournament has overall been able to create and sustain the engagement level with youth owing to the dynamic branding strategy followed in India.