Good sport can give the best entertainment a run for its box office collections. The T20 World Cup last September created history. And it was no less than a mega blockbuster, with its own share of heroes, villains, and unbeatable storylines. But those who thought that the excitement ended with this were in for a pleasant surprise.
IPL 2008 has created its own history and has provided more adrenalin to cricket-crazy fans in India, albeit with a difference. No doubt the format of T20 drove interest, but IPL added the extra fuel of state loyalty, a hitherto dormant phenomenon.
And this has opened the door for many new opportunities for marketers, aspiring young cricket talent, and Indian cricket itself. As is evident in our study, people followed the teams of the states that they belonged to—without exception. Even when they were losing! Sixty per cent of respondents said they supported a team either because they belonged to the same state or because their spouse belonged to it. This also possibly explains the unprecedented extent of involvement viewers had with the game.
More than 60% Indians actually sacrificed other social activities in favour of watching the matches. Seventy-eight per cent had planned in advance to watch their favourite matches. What is even more astounding is that more than 50% experienced withdrawal symptoms after the tournament was over. For future tournaments, the same level of interest in the game and home teams is expected.
The stipulations on team composition will create opportunities for budding young players and local talent. This is something that serious cricket supporters have been trying to achieve for a long time. This, by itself, opens many avenues for marketers aspiring to build a strong cricket association for their brands.
Moreover, there are many brands which have a presence only in some states. IPL has now provided them the opportunity to activate cricket at a local level. Given the extent of involvement that people had, marketers need not cash in only during the series. Opportunity lies even beyond, with promotions and merchandising tie-ups.
IPL has brought the home advantage to marketers and a great avenue for the growth of cricket at the state level.
Sanchayeeta Verma is national director, MindShare