Panchkula, Haryana: New league, new brands, and new marketing opportunities.
So say the companies that have backed the controversial Indian Cricket League (ICL), which continues its tournament here until 16 December. The Board of Control for Cricket in India, the sport’s apex body in the country, has blacklisted the new league.
While big names such as Microsoft Corp. and Thomas Cook are league sponsors, the roster also includes several companies that are not household names—and see cricket as one way they might be able to be.
“ICL is getting us closer to the game,” said Aarti Poddar, marketing vice-president of Provogue (India) Ltd, the apparel company backing ICL. “These are early days, the league won’t be a hit on day one, but it will in a few seasons. We see a marketing opportunity here.”
Provogue marketing vice-president Aarti Poddar
For instance, the strongest team on paper—the Hyderabad Heroes, led by former Pakistan skipper Inzamam-ul-Haq—is sponsored by Social Media India Pvt. Ltd, which wants to promote its website, BharatStudents.com.
“We want to associate with cricket, but don’t have huge budgets,” said Social Media chief executive Vishnu Induri, explaining his investment.
Of six teams, only Chennai has found a high-profile backer in TVS Motor Co. Ltd, India’s third largest motorcycle manufacturer, and a ready backer of official cricket.
Poddar says Provogue has major plans around ICL, a tournament that locals—including the security guards at the Panchkula town-owned Tau Devi Lal Sports Complex—predict will lose spectators as the month goes on.
Provogue plans merchandising official ICL gear such as wristbands, bandanas and caps, apparel accessories popular among the youth, and team jerseys, in its outlets in the six teams’ cities—Chandigarh, Kolkata, Mumbai, Hyderabad, Delhi and Chennai.
All products will sport Provogue’s “P” emblem to drive its branding, Poddar says. “We want to make the ‘P’ strong… We want it to be like the ‘swoosh’ of Nike.” Additionally, Provogue plans another innovation: buyers can have their names embossed on accessories at the store itself. The products and the facility would be available this weekend or early next week, she said.
The company plans to price the range “reasonably”: Rs300 for caps sourced from South Korea; Rs500 for T-shirt jerseys manufactured by a Provogue vendor in Tirupur, Tamil Nadu; and Bandanas and wristbands around Rs150-200.
Poddar describes the league and the marketing around it as an “experiment.” She is sure about one thing though: “Cricket never fails. We are positive.”