It is no news that the Indian cricket team has lost its last seven overseas Test matches (4 in the England; 3 in current series against Australia). The world cup-winning nation is at its all time low when it comes to advertiser’s confidence. The million Rupee deals that Dhoni & Co. won after 2011 world cup win are unlikely to be renewed. Recently, a brand manager said that he had withdrawn its offer to a leading cricketer after witnessing the thrashing down under. Quite unsurprisingly, many other brands are following the suit. There has been a downfall in TRPs, leading to downfall in advertising rates for cricket matches.
This is a dilemma time for brand owners. Whether to sign cricketers to drop them? We all know that one double hundred from Sehwag or Sachin’s match-winning 100th ton will reinstate our interest in cricket, and brands will again queue up outside our overrated cricketing stars. Sports channels will again demand inflated and unbelievable advertising fee. This is perhaps the best time for Indian marketing honchos to evaluate the return on cricket investment. While IPL would remain as a big draw because of the format and nature, the question is how safe it is to invest in cricketers in 2012. I’d say stay away from cricket. First, there is no big tournament apart from T20 world championship which will be happening very close the London Olympics. Most Indian cricketers that sign big are on the verge of retirement and this year may see a huge exodus. Perhaps, signing rising stars such as Rohit Sharma or Umesh Yadav may be worth a gamble as brands would catch them young and cheap.
Advertisers have already tasted failure in England and Australia series and it is unlikely that India will overnight start winning test matches overseas. While some loyalists may still bring TRPs, many cricket fans already have stopped bothering to wake up early in the morning to watch India-Australia matches.
In the rest of 2012, advertisers need to be smart with their media buying. New media may be a better place to spend, signing film stars may be a smarter idea, or working on developing their own mascots (like Vodafone’s zoozoos) may bring larger long-term advertising returns.
Advertisers’ have already played on a sticky wicket with an unpredictable and ageing Indian team. It is time advertisers look at creating better advertising content than blindly signing Sachin Tendulkar and MS Dhoni.