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IPL WAS UNDOUBTEDLY A BIG HIT IN ITS FIRST SEASON. BUT CAN LALIT MODI CARRY THE IPL TORCH ALL THE WAY TO ITS SECOND SEASON AS WELL?
“We added a lot of music to the games... A Bollywood movie is three hours. This is a three hour function. A lot of good food and catering and popcorn and ice cream for the kids,” that’s how Lalit Modi, India’s first ever cricket marketer and Chairman Indian Premier League (IPL), describes the India’s version of the Super Bowl. He was on CNN’s Talk Asia. Certainly, IPL is not only remembered for the hype that it created among cricket fans the world over, but also for the oodles of star power, scandals and controversies created by it. So one day there was Vijay ‘Kingfisher’ Mallya firing team CEO Charu Sharma; next day, the spotlight was on cheerleaders and their skimpy outfits; then, Bhajji slapped Sreesanth on-field, followed by a ‘no entry’ board thrust at demi-God SRK when he tried to enter the dressing room. Above all, the moolah, which IPL generated in the first season created maximum buzz. And Modi was the man in the thick of it all, commandeering each piece of the IPL action. Modi does have his detractors, who blame him for spoiling the spirit of this gentlemen’s game. There are others who believe that the business model is flawed. But Modi gives it back to them. “If people are raising doubts about IPL making money they simply don’t understand our model,” he told 4Ps B&M.
But the glass is also half empty. Still in its nascent stage, IPL’s long-term success will not be a cake-walk. Constant innovation will be mandatory to sustain viewer interest and competition from Subhash Chandra’s rebel league (ICL) may also pose a challenge. Noticeably, the first season of IPL lagged on the merchandising end, as Gautam Bhimani, Commentator with ESPN–Star Sports feels, “Leagues in the West innovate to help merchandising gain a momentum. It will also pick up in India, but it all depends on the tactics adopted.” Clearly, there is still plenty of work to be done on that front. But, here’s the optimistic side. Much before IPL’s second season kicks off, companies have already started lining up to be associated with the league. “From a marketing perspective, IPL gives us a huge platform for promotion,” asserts Subhinder Singh Prem, MD, Reebok India.
Undeniably, Modi has created a successful brand, and keeping in mind the popularity of the format (T-20), the near future looks rosy. “T-20 format is here to stay, especially after India winning the T-20 World Cup,” mentions Bhimani. Modi has hit a sixer, but will he win the match?
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Source : IIPM Editorial, 2009
An Initiative of IIPM, Malay Chaudhuri and Arindam chaudhuri (Renowned Management Guru and Economist).
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