Sach an opportunity!

05 Sep,2013


By Ravi Teja Sharma, Ratna Bhushan & Vijaya Rathore


Sachin Tendulkar’s 200th Test match is set to become a mega marketing event with his sponsors planning special campaigns to celebrate the milestone in the hope of reaping rich dividends from all the hype and hoopla.


That this Test could be played in the master blaster’s home town of Mumbai and might possibly be his last, make the match even more of an occasion.


“This is a national event. I don’t think people have been able to gauge the importance of the event until now,” says Shailendra Singh, joint managing director of media agency Percept.


Tendulkar, who will become the first cricket player in the history of the game to play 200 tests, has repeatedly refused to specify a date for his retirement from Test cricket. But the cricket’s board decision to invite West Indies to play a special two-Test match series in November, ahead of a scheduled South Africa tour has given rise to speculation that India’s greatest cricketer will bid farewell to the game at the end of this series. The decision to award a Test match to Mumbai, ahead of Ahmadabad which should have hosted a game in the series, as per the board’s policy of rotating Test centres, has added fuel to the fire.


Sensing one last opportunity to drum up some visibility in these depressing times, brands such as Aviva, Coca-Cola, Adidas and Toshiba, which are associated with the master blaster, are planning strategic campaigns and initiatives, which could translate into incremental sales in the festive season.


Pune-based real estate developer Amit Enterprises is working on launching Sachin branded 200-apartment projects in Mumbai, Pune and Nashik. “The real estate market is slow but Sachin will sell. We have also asked JWT to work on a brand campaign,” says Kishor Pate, managing director of the company, which had signed up with the right-handed batsman in 2010, when Sachin had played 175 Tests.


Aviva Life, the life insurance company, is planning a digital media campaign featuring Sachin to connect with the Facebook and Twitter generation. “We are looking to celebrate the 200th test by launching an effective campaign in social media and digital media since he has a lot of following in that space too,” says Rishi Piparaiya, director marketing at Aviva Life.


Television-maker Toshiba has created a special television series with the cricketer and will be launching it by mid-September. “The new product is especially created with Sachin’s contribution and will be dedicated to cricket fans,” says Sanjay Warke, country head for Toshiba India (DS Division).


Sportswear maker Adidas was drawing up a marketing plan for January. “But there seems to be a change of schedule now,” says Tushar Goculdas, the company’s brand director. “The exact plan is being worked out, but we have a few things on mind like creating a memento for Tendulkar himself and roll out some product for fans commemorating his 200th.”


Swiss watchmaker Audemars Piguet and Coca-Cola, whose brands Sachin endorses, are working on smaller initiatives. While the watchmaker plans to roll out a bunch of congratulatory messages if Tendulkar breaks or makes any new records, Coca-Cola, which had invested heavily in a campaign surrounding Sachin’s 100th century only to see it bomb, is playing it safe. A spokesperson of the beverage maker said the firm will leverage Tendulkar’s achievement to amplify its CSR activities and projects.


Two years ago, sponsors had seen their marketing campaign fizzle as Tendulkar’s 100th century took much longer than anticipated. Coca-Cola had planned to release 6.5 million special ‘Sachin’ cans in the summer of 2011 to mark the occasion. But Tendulkar’s poor form meant that the company had to release most of these cans before he reached the landmark.


Similarly, Aviva had planned to fly contest winners to London to meet Sachin as he was expected to score the 100th ton during India’s four match test series against England in 2011.


This time however, barring a freak incident, the date and venue of the milestone will be known well in advance. Brands associated with Sachin would certainly use this opportunity to leverage their association with him,” says Ajit Varghese, managing director at media buying firm Maxus South Asia, a part of Group M. Adds ad filmmaker Prahlad Kakkar:”Today, all brands are suffering because of the slowdown. The smart ones will ride on Sachin and in the bargain push their products, keeping the post Diwali festivities going.”


According to Forbes magazine, Tendulkar’s earnings, including his match fees and endorsement money, stood at $22 million as of June 2013. He has played 198 Tests has scored 15,837 runs and has 100 international centuries to his name, the most by any player so far.


For the record, BCCI refuses to admit there is a plan to help Tendulkar go out on a high. “Who said he will play? We haven’t selected him as yet. No one is picked just because he is playing his 100th or 200th match,” was a terse response from Ratnakar Shetty, a top official of the cricket board.


The joint secretary of the Mumbai Cricket Association, Nitin Dalal, however, says every effort is being made to get the match to Wankhede. “We will request the BCCI. He is a Mumbai boy and the crowd will be thrilled to watch him play on the home ground. The MCA management committee believes that it is going to be a big event and we will have to make it very special not only for the cricketer but also the public,” he says.


After undergoing a surgery on his left palm, Tendulkar recently started practising and has confirmed that he will be available for the Champions League T20 later this month on behalf of Mumbai Indians.


Source:The Economic Times

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