The ICC World Cup of Brands 2019

16 Jul,2019


By Avik Chattopadhyay


Cricket is possibly the only thing that binds India on this date. A few others like the National Anthem, the Constitution and the Flag are going through their phases of revisionism and identity-crisis. Bollywood has never been a unifier! If you feel offended, ask the movie-goer in Chennai and Cochin for the right perspective.

So, when the ICC One-Day Cricket World Cup happens, every brand wants to ride the bandwagon. Either directly as ICC sponsors and partners or with the media vehicle Star Sports. In either case, paying top money for primetime. We were pitted against England as the favourites to win the cup, so eyeballs would be guaranteed till the 12th of July.

The biggest sponsors of this world cup were Kohli and Dhoni.

Kohli was on air for Uber, Shyam Steel, Google Duo and Nuvoco Vista.

MSD for Dream 11, SRMB Steel, Orient LED, MasterCard and Bharat Matrimony.

Pardon me if I have missed out any more.

Through the tournament I just hoped some guy with a sense of humour would announce, “This match is brought to you by Nissan, Oppo, Coca-Cola, MRF, Virat Kohli and MS Dhoni.” But that moment never came.

Instead, India stopped at the semis.

And so did most of the eyeballs.

Now that the nation is at relative peace and debating only about ICC rules and New Zealand being short-circuited [almost patronisingly], here is a good time to look at how the brands on the b[r]andwagon fared. My assessment basically from the multitude of products and services that spent oodles of money on television over the 48 matches…into 3 sets of the good, the bad and the ridiculous. They are in no ranking order, hence the alphabetical order.


The Good 5


Coca-Cola – adorable communication featuring Paresh Rawal and Ranbeer Kapoor. Simple story, brilliantly told. Though one might argue the open invitation to gulp down gallons of aerated sugar water, the sheer quality of the campaign pardons the sin. “Chaar saal dete hain world cup waale…” should go on to become an iconic quip over time.


Dream 11 – in the 5 WhatsApp groups I am part of, there were at least a dozen individuals hooked on to this site. Old and middle aged people, mind you, leading otherwise responsible family and corporate lives, indulging in betting! Obviously, the communication, simple and compelling enough, made the most of the occasion. MSD kept well here…no byes and drops.


Google Search – while the Google Duo communication was quite flaky, the one by Search was bang on! Again, like Dream 11, made the most of the occasion.


Swiggy – they had started off during the IPL, but the excellent campaign continued through the world cup. The brilliant tie-ins with various cricketing situations through the commentary brought a smile on millions’ faces I am sure. They had quite a few stories on air but my favourite one is the “Batsmen are taking a risk here…” featuring the two old friends ordering quesadilla and lasagne!


Uber – very tactical and topical but well communicated and that is why it is in my list of the Good 5. Virat played well, on all types of pitches, in all conditions. Disarming and to the point. Only I could not understand playing the ad on the final. But that is for another day and under another subject…


The Bad 5 – these are brands that spent a lot of money on advertising that did not work, according to me, for various reasons, specific to each.


Fogg – we know that “Fagg chal raha hai” but why? There was no new story…nothing on the occasion of the world cup. They are smart communicators, hence I was sure disappointed when they spent a lot of money rehashing their IPL messaging. And I just wish we stop playing up the anti-Pakistan bit any more. What is innocent fun at one time can become laboured if stretched beyond relevance.


Kamla Pasand – this one really shook me up by the scruff of my neck. The dream of 130 crore people! Give me a break please. I expect such talk in Parliament, not for a sport catering to the middle class and above. And all that flag waving? Nope, does not work. Being a ‘pan masala’ does not help things. Do not try to be Amul or Tata Tea. To communicate like them you need to switch businesses.


MasterCard – okay, so you got a couple new stories to tell, but do you need two celebrities to drive home your message? Also, too many messages I thought, with none clearly registering [in my mind at least, in spite of being a MasterCard user]. Visa did a much better job with a single story being driven home.


Oppo – you are the sponsor of the Indian team and the ICC and this is all that you do…bring a pretty girl close to a prettier bird?! Did you think that just your name appearing on shirts, grounds and backdrops would do the job? Nope, according to me. That was just your name that millions saw across the cricket playing world, not your brand. Lost a big chance of doing something truly relevant and memorable.


Pepsi – I know, I know…they were not on television but so what…they did spend a lot of money trying to out-do Coke. They thought they did this super clever “digital” campaign forcing the grand old lady Charulata Patel do weird poses with her fingers. You think that’s swag? Take a good swig!


The Ridiculous 5 – these are the jewels that I have not figured out why they were there in the first place! I am sure they still do not have the answer themselves.


Apollo Tyres – just because MRF is there? Huh? You think that is reason enough? “Ambush marketing” in the age of AI and ML!! Sad. Please think up a better reason. It’s a nice, feel-good ad, but totally wasted on this platform. Therefore, money well wasted.


Bharat Matrimony – we know young immature couples do propose at the cricket ground or in flights taking them to one, but you really want to talk about all this just because MSD is your brand ambassador? This is no way to “maximise” presence and squeeze the last bit from your lemon. Lemon!


Nissan – you are one of the world’s most respected brands and this is what you do? Make an SUV reverse into the crease, create an android hand and smash a metallic ball? Seriously? Katayama-san would commit hara-kiri on this!


Orient LED – I was a kid once so let’s get this straight – kids do not study during summer vacations and when a world cup is on…any world cup. Period. So, stop the preaching on whether the LED light flickers or not. That’s when exams come up. Okay?


Shyam Steel – every time I saw yet one more ad of the most loving couple in the cricketing world, I cried. For I wanted it to end as soon as it started and the only way out was to look away or quickly check WhatsApp messages. Need I say more?


Avik Chattopadhyay is a senior brand and business strategist based in Gurugram. This is the first in a new series of columns he will write for MxMIndia.

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