New Delhi: Cheerleaders may have caused controversy on debut in the first season of the Indian Premier League (IPL), but they are now not only an integral part of the cricket tournament, but also the face of a growing number of advertisements and promotions.
New Delhi-based English daily Mail Today uses cheerleaders in its brand campaign to show times are changing.
The advertisement features former Indian cricket captain Kapil Dev bowling, with a group of cheerleaders in bright yellow costumes in the foreground. The tag line says: “The world has changed. Where have you been?”
Adding glamour: Cheerleaders performing during an IPL match. Experts believe that as the economy bounces back after a slowdown, fun and vibrant themes such as cheerleaders work well to reflect the upbeat mood. R Senthil Kumar/PTI
The UB Group, which owns the Royal Challengers Bangalore team, has gone a step further in launching an interactive online campaign centred around cheerleaders.
The liquor-to-airline conglomerate’s initiative allows users to customize cheerleaders on their computer screens to perform stunts and dance moves.
Advertisers such as Vodafone Essar Ltd and Hindustan Unilever Ltd have also used the cheerleader theme for their hit ZooZoo and the Axe deodorant campaigns this year.
Experts believe that as India’s economy bounces back after a slowdown, fun and vibrant themes such as cheerleaders work well to reflect the upbeat mood.
“We used cheerleaders in our ad because we wanted to communicate change to our readers, and in sports, cheerleaders are the change from the gentleman’s sport it was (cricketers dressed in white) to colourful entertainment it has now become,” said Devesh Rai, head, marketing, Mail Today, a joint venture of the India Today Group and Daily Mail of London.
Besides, considering the buzz and entertainment value cheerleaders added to the Twenty20 league, advertisers are convinced that they would deliver results.
“We would not have used cheerleaders in season one because the idea hadn't caught on and they generated controversy,” said Rajiv Rao, national creative director of Ogilvy and Mather Pvt. Ltd, the advertising agency behind the ZooZoo ads.
“But now cheerleaders have managed to make their way into Indian sports and the general acceptance is a clear reflection of India’s evolving mindset and culture,” Rao said.
The positive response has also encouraged sports other than cricket to spread the cheer on their fields.
The recently concluded Hockey World Cup held in New Delhi had cheerleaders performing on the sidelines; so did the fifth Commonwealth Boxing Championship that took place between 12 and 17 March.
For Shailendra Singh, joint managing director, Percept Ltd, an entertainment, media and communications company that also promotes the boxing tourney, cheerleaders add to the marketing package that consumers and sponsors today demand.
“The whole country is going through a phase where everything we buy needs to be packaged well. Earlier we went to single-screen theatres, now we choose multiplexes; earlier it was your local market you would shop at, now it’s malls,” he said. “The only difference is the packaging and cheerleaders add that razzmatazz to the mix.”