Shailesh Kapoor: World Cup 2015: The Lull Before The Marketing Storm

09 Jan,2015

By Shailesh Kapoor


February 14 is only 35 days. No, I’m not counting it down to Valentine’s Day. That’s also the date when the ICC Cricket World Cup kicks off in Australia and New Zealand. The following day, February 15, is when India kicks off its campaign to defend the World Cup, with a clash that has a history of being a mini World Cup in itself, versus Pakistan.


If you have followed World Cup Cricket and the hype and the hoopla surrounding it over the last two decades, you would tend to agree that we are in an inexplicably inert period, like the proverbial lull before the storm. No major media campaigns have kicked off. The current Test series has been focus of most cricket conversations. Dhoni’s Test retirement and Kohli’s giant steps towards batting greatness have kept the cricketing community, experts and fans alike, in India preoccupied.


From 1992 to 2011, we saw six World Cup campaigns where the pitch, be it from brands or the broadcaster, hinged around patriotism and India’s campaign to bring the Cup back home for the first time after 1983. In 2007, it all went wrong when India made an unceremonious exit in the first week itself. I distinctly remembered a Visa ad (featuring Shankar Mahadevan et al), where the colours in the tricolour were changed to neutral colors, along with a copy edit, to ensure the ad could run in the second half of the tournament to burn the committed ad inventory.


2011 was a World Cup at home and it had a momentum of its own. But compared to all the previous World Cups, the upcoming 2015 World Cup offers the best marketing opportunities to everyone with a stake in the game. Finally, it’s about defending the Cup, and keeping it home, than about “bringing it back”. The creative opportunities a “Defending the Cup” campaign allows are enormous. You can pack in pride, patriotism, optimism and heroism, all at one time, and yet not come across as trying to say too much.


But where are these ads? Are they still in production or post production? Hopefully so, because we’ll then get to see them sooner or later. The Tendulkar ad released by Star Sports about two weeks ago may as well be a pre-cursor. But it builds the man more than the campaign idea, which is why I hope it’s just a stop-gap and there are better things planned.


Traditionally, brands like Pepsi (remember ‘Nothing Official About It’ and ‘Change The Game’?) have spearheaded advertising innovation around the World Cup. I’m almost certain they are about to unleash something remarkable soon.


India’s is a top ODI team. Yet, winning the World Cup is always a tough ask. The next time we play to defend the title may be as early as 2019, but could be as late as a couple of decades after that. That’s what you call a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, right?


So, let the drums roll, please!


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