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Champions Trophy win boosts cricket's image in India

Last month, Indian cricket witnessed what some said was its biggest crisis ever. The shock and revulsion that followed the arrest of three Indian Premier League players on allegations of spot fixing threatened to take away the mystique cricket has long enjoyed in this country.

Dearton Thomas Hector        Last Updated: June 24, 2013  | 22:35 IST

When James Tredwell of England failed to make contact with the ball off the last delivery by R. Ashwin, Indian skipper M S Dhoni became the first Indian captain to win all three ICC trophies - the World Cup, the World Twenty20 and now the Champions Trophy. The final was held on Sunday, June 23.

Last month, Indian cricket witnessed what some said was its biggest crisis ever. The shock and revulsion that followed the arrest of three Indian Premier League players on allegations of spot fixing threatened to take away the mystique cricket has long enjoyed in this country.

But the latest win seems set to rejuvenate cricket all over again.

The run-up to winning the Champions Trophy also saw the emergence of new cricketers as brands, Shikhar Dhawan being the most prominent among them. By scoring the most runs in the tournament, he not only won the 'golden bat' but garnered attention from advertisers. At present, Dhawan only endorses PepsiCo's Lay's Chips, but that is likely to change soon. (Lay's is also promoted by Rohit Sharma, another player who excelled in the tourney)

Dhawan's deals are managed by a firm called Cornerstone Sports. "We are in talks with as many as five brands that are keen to sign Shikhar and we hope to finalise at least three or four associations in the coming weeks," says CEO Bunty Sajdeh. "His recent consistent performances in all formats of the game have solidified his position and in turn guaranteed his visibility."

The Champions Trophy saw strong participation from sponsors too.

Sanjay Kailash, Executive Vice President, ESPN Software India Pvt Ltd, says he is elated with the advertiser response. "We had as many as 50 clients from various categories who have come on board for the live matches as well as pre-post programming," he says.

The event was broadcast by STAR Sports, STAR Cricket and STAR Cricket HD. Some of the sponsors were Hyundai India, Micromax and Hindustan Unilever. Other big brands who acquired airtime include Kent RO, Microsoft, Tata Motors, Union Bank, and Carlsberg.

But there remain some who feel the match-fixing stain has not yet been rubbed out. "There is a positive rub-off temporarily. When the hype goes down, questions about the IPL controversy will come up again," says Indranil Das Blah, partner, CAA KWAN, a talent management firm. Yet even he agrees that Dhawan has made an impact. "It was Shikhar (Dhawan)'s tournament. There will be significant rise in the brand value of young players," he adds.

 
There are some who would disagree with that too. Basabdutta Chowdhuri, CEO of Platinum Media, a media buying firm which buys advertisement slots for clients in media, is sceptical about endorsements for the younger players says, "The viewership of the initial matches was average. It is too early to say that the young players will get a lot of endorsements. It depends upon their consistent performance."

The victory seems to have come at the right time for Team India and skipper M S Dhoni. At least for a short while, they have silenced their critics. And for brands which are in search of new celebrities, there is a new star on the horizon - Shikhar Dhawan.  

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