Anil Thakraney: Dual ad play during cricket matches?

27 Feb,2012

By Anil Thakraney


I have always wondered what goes through the minds of viewers when they are subjected to commercials that feature cricketers during a live match coverage, when those boys are doing miserably on the field. For instance, ads featuring Sachin Tendulkar are constantly on air, even as there’s hectic talk of his immediate retirement from one day cricket.


I don’t have research material to prove this, and maybe the time has come for a study on this subject, but I strongly suspect television viewers get mighty irritated, even repulsed, more so in the Indian context, where the average cricket fan is likely to be deliriously passionate about the game. As he gets busy swearing at the player, one can imagine the vocabulary when the commercial featuring the same player projecting him as a hero comes on the air. Clearly, this isn’t healthy for the brand in question, as the player negativity is sure to rub off on the former. And even if that sounds a bit extreme, annoyed viewers are highly likely to zap or mute such adverts. Which means not just money down the tube for the advertiser, there’s also danger of damage to brand imagery.


And this is a risk advertisers knowing take when they hire sportspersons. As against movie stars, where the only risk is if the actor gets involved in an adverse publicity situation, like Saif Ali Khan did very recently. But that’s a rare occurrence, with cricketers it’s a constant gamble.


Which then makes me think: Should marketers have a dual ad campaign on the ready during cricket tournaments? One campaign featuring the cricketer and the other based on a different creative route. So that during a cricket match if the player is found performing really badly, or is woefully out of form, the advertiser can switch to the commercial that doesn’t feature him.


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I wonder if broadcasters can technically make this happen without too many logistical issues. I actually think it shouldn’t be a problem.


The only question which then remains is this: Does this justify additional spend on creative work? I think it does. Better to spend a bit more on cost of production than have the brand being sweared at during each commercial break.


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PS: Fallon has re-created Queen’s ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’ for Cosmopolitan, a Las Vegas luxury resort and casino. Mostly in spoken words. Simple idea and very cool!




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