Geography is History
By Harish Bijoor
Geography is history!
The IPL team brand is a reality today. Even as the bidding for the City Teams is done with and just as the top 80 cricketers are picked up in an open auction with open and overt commercial intent by a Preity Zinta or a Dr. Vijay Mallya, it is time to sit up and shake the paradigm of geography and its old value. At least in cricketing terms.
Cricket history is an old and valued one. If Hinduism has its Bhagvad Gita, Christianity its Bible and Islam its Koran, Cricket has its own as well with an ever-growing Wisden. But then, that’s old hat now!
A trace of the history of evolution of cricket then?
Kerry Packer saw it first. The audience for 5-day cricket with its men in whites was getting to be tiresome. Cricket refused to change its avatar. Packer came in with his revolutionary one-day format. In came cricket with colored uniforms and just 50-overs each. This was instant cricket. A game that wrapped up its results in just one day of each team playing fifty-overs.
The game prospered. The game grew. Sponsorship grew. Brands that sought quicker eye-ball impact picked the game with vigor. Now there was Cricket Classic (the five day version played by men in whites) and Instant Cricket (the 50-over variety with its adrenaline rush for the younger man). In many ways, if you were older and if you had a heart problem, you better watch 5-day cricket. If you were younger, there was One-day cricket around for you. And then of course there were cusp cricket fans who watched both the variants. There was just more cricket to eat than before, and no one complained. Except for parents of kids with exams to write, who just kept complaining that this was just not cricket.
In came the years of the 2000 series. Cricket administrators and those concerned with Cricket –commerce (many interested only in terms of audience reach and the ability to monetize this value in terms of advertising) were thinking fast and quick. The contemporary audience was tiring of one-day cricket as well. Lives were getting fast-paced. People just did not have enough time to sit and watch a One-day game that somehow seemed slower than the life-styles of most of the audience that was watching it.
The game changed. In came Twenty-20. A shorter game. A sexier version. A version that promised to compete with the 90-minute joy of the world’s biggest viewed game of them all, Soccer.
With history wrapped up, time to talk the paradigm of Geography.
In sheer brand terms, cricket is a game that has traditionally depended on the jingoism of nations at the International level. In some cases the jingoism of States and Regions even, just as the Ranjhi Trophy matches sought so desperately to build in the country. In vain of course!
The IPL is different. This nascent brand of wannabe cricket wants to develop a whole new paradigm of consumer acceptance altogether. The key proposition: build Team-brand loyalty rather than just plain old National-brand or State-brand loyalty.
How is this done? How long will it take? And what are the key hurdles to cross? And importantly, can it be done at all?
Last question first. Can it be done at all?
Most certainly yes. Peek keenly at soccer and the emergence of the mega-buck teams that represent a passion of their own. Are you an Arsenal fan? Or a Man-U maniac? And is the
The answer is blowing in the winds my dear friends. Team soccer is bigger than it all. Team sport is more profitable than it all. More eye-balls, more frequent eye-balls, and indeed more eye-balls to monetize literally every week. More eye-balls and indeed every other body part of the fan to monetize, not only in playing season, but in slack time as well. Every ball, every T-shirt and every wrist band is an opportunity that packs money.
My definition of a brand: The brand is a thought. A thought that lives in people’s minds. The Team Bangalore of Vijay Mallya is a thought. A thought that will live in every mind. This thought is not only about soccer. It is about more. It is about a city. It is about the passion that
The brand is today essentially consumed not by geographic clusters. Not even by consumers who live in common and identified Demographic clusters. The brand is today a Psychographic reality. Never mind where you live, you will consume Team Bengaluru. The moment you consume the brand and enjoy a passion-link into it, you are saying it out loud that you live out there with your mind rather than your body. Team cricket provides for this key insight to be harvested.
Building this new paradigm of Team Cricket will take time. It will not happen overnight. But then cricket and its administrators have all the time on their hands. It is the early entrants to the game who will singe their hands and minds and pockets. They will then wait and build. Build with every season. Build with every marketing tool of viral connect there is to use.
The author is a brand-domain specialist and CEO, Harish Bijoor Consults Inc.