New Delhi:Mahendra Singh Dhoni, India’s most successful cricket captain, will rescue a lost puppy among other exploits in a comic book series that will hit the stands days before the start of fourth season of the Indian Premier League (IPL) in April.
Chennai Super Kings (CSK), the IPL cricket team that won last year’s championship title, will also feature Dhoni’s Chennai teammates including Suresh Raina and Michael Hussey. The comics that will be targeted at young fans of Dhoni’s CSK team will initially print 40,000 copies of the 40-page book to be priced at Rs 40 each, said Rakesh Singh, head of marketing for the Chennai team.
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“The idea is to catch them young,” Singh said. “This is targeted at children below 10 years as our popularity in that segment is very high. These comics will touch them more than anything else.”
The Chennai team is trying to strengthen its fan base among children and increase revenue by capitalizing on the popularity of Dhoni and his teammates. CSK sells about 20 merchandise items such as key chains, caps, T-shirts and mugs among others through its website and a few retail outlets. IPL teams are selling such items to augment revenue from ticket sales and broadcasting fees.
The IPL had generated $200 million (Rs 912 crore) in revenue in its inaugural year in 2008 from streams including ticket sales, uniform advertisements and merchandising.
“I think all the teams must do things that go beyond cricket to be able to sustain the kind of loyalties through the years,” said Piyush Pandey, chairman of the Indian unit of Ogilvy and Mather. “Teams have to build beyond the excitement of the cricket and I am sure many other teams are doing activities like this. Slowly these teams will become stronger brands over the years on the back of these kind of activities.”
Mumbai-based advertising company Cartwheel Creative Consultancy Pvt. Ltd is writing the script and producing the series. It has tied up with India Book House for nationwide distribution of the comics.
CSK plans to start selling three editions during the current year’s IPL, that will be played between April 8 and May 4.
The franchise will publish monthly editions after the end of this season’s championship.
The first edition of the series called Lion of Chepauk is in the final stages of development and will feature the story of a street puppy that becomes the lucky mascot for Dhoni’s team.
The print run of the comics may be increased to 60,000 copies eventually and published in Hindi, Tamil and other regional languages after gauging the popularity of the English version, said Ramki D. Ramakrishna, founder of Cartwheel Creative.
CSK will spend about Rs 20 lakh to produce the comic book series. Mobile phone service provider Aircel Ltd, the Chennai team’s principal sponsor, has agreed to buy advertising space in the series, said Singh.