The advertisements of the Indian Premier League (IPL) tell us a lot about the weak link in the new cricket league’s business model— building customer loyalty.
The television spots do not try to promote either the players or the Twenty20 game format. Instead, the entire point of the campaign is to build team loyalties. It will be a long battle.
Indian cricket enthusiasts are passionately nationalist. They wave flags when the national team wins and they burn effigies when it loses. It will be worth seeing whether the same passion will be shifted to the subnational teams that will be competing in IPL.
There was a time when fans rooted for home teams in the Ranji Trophy. In countries such as England and the US, city-based sports teams are magnets of pride. That is what IPL will try to do in the long run.
IPL already has a model to look up to. The various reality shows on TV areunashamedly parochial.Voting is geographical. Can IPL create regional pride in another context?