Madhukar Sabnavis: Twenty20 and India`s victory
|Indians suffer from three diseases — the 3Cs — Celebrations, Cinema and Cricket. Last week, we witnessed two of them come together. First, India won the twenty20 World Cup in South Africa. Second, we saw a big celebratory parade to welcome the Indian heroes home. The success of the new form of cricket and India’s victory are interesting points in the life of brand “cricket’ and Indian society and consumers. It’s worth exploring both in detail.|
|For me, twenty20 represents a new stock keeping unit (sku) for brand “cricket”. It’s the second-line extension of the game. One-day cricket came in the 70s, some hundred years after the launch of the mother brand — test cricket. And twenty20 has come more than 30 years after the launch of one-day cricket. One-day cricket moved the game from being a spectator, stadium sport to becoming a viewer, entertainment programme. It brought into the game elements that could make it more enjoyable to watch on television — coloured clothes, stump microphones, day-night matches, to name a few innovations. It breathed fresh life into the game and re-energised the game in the cricket-playing countries. It saw the emergence of new sporting champions in South Asia and shifted the centre of gravity of the game to this part of the world.|
|The new twenty20 format has the power to make a bigger difference. It packs more power and excitement in a shorter period of time. It brings the game closer in duration to other sports like football, baseball and closely contested five-set tennis matches. In fact, it actually makes it a plausible option to an evening out at a multiplex. The changed structure of the game offers a variety of opportunity for brand ‘cricket’.|
|Market expansion: With this lower sku, it can be used to expand the game’s footprint into newer countries. It will be nice to see baseball champions like the US taking to the sport and hopefully new champions will arise in the next 30 years. It is up to the brand owners — the International ICC— to see how to use it to grow the market!|
|Value extraction: While continuing to keep viewership alive, the shorter format provides an opportunity for the ICC to use this as a means to get people back to the stadium. No longer is there a need to take a day off to see a match. Sitting for three hours is much easier than doing the same for seven. Of course, there will be a need to upgrade in-stadia facilities to deliver superior experience for spectators to ensure premiums can be charged and this opportunity is best tapped.|
|Twenty20 also reflects a changing consumer and his needs in life. At the base level, it is an extension of what one-day cricket introduced. However, it is also a heightened expression of it. Consumer attention spans are reducing — seven hours is long, three hours is more palatable. The consumer’s need for instant gratification is increasing. One-day cricket ensured results, twenty20 makes every ball and every over material and exciting — not only the slog overs. Consumers’ obsession with competition is on the rise. Twenty20 just exaggerates this. But there are a couple of interesting new different dimensions that twenty20 reflects over its fifty-over counterpart.|
|Finally, beyond the format of the game, India’s win has its own significance. It is a reflection of the arrival of “youth” and “small town” power. India won without the services of its senior players with a first-time rookie national captain. Many of the stars of this team are from smaller towns like Ranchi, Baroda and Rae Bareilly. If the 1983 World Cup win was an announcement to the world of India’s global arrival, this win is a signal to us about the raw talent and power within the nation.|
|This World Cup has presented India with new heroes and role models as possible brand ambassadors. This is interesting for professional advertisers who suffer from a fourth C disease — Celebrities. Consider the heroes of the past. Sachin Tendulkar is about professional excellence, Rahul Dravid is about diligence, perseverance and precision, Sourav Ganguly is about charisma, competitiveness and aggression. These heroes of the 90s represent the values of “liberalising” India.|
|The new boys are different. Mahendra Singh Dhoni — from his walk and talk — reflects “cool confidence”. He represents a generation that will fight to the end but knows that life is a series of battles. Victory and defeat are part of life and there is always another day and another game to be played. Yuvraj Singh is a blend of substance and style. He combines performance on field with sartorial presence — something Sania Mirza introduced in tennis — representing a generation that believes in a flattening world where performance becomes tablestakes, packaging matters. Sreesanth is the birth of character and gamesmanship on field. Eccentric and electric, he is about passion and drive that can be freely expressed. And boys like Pathan, Rohit Sharma and Joginder Singh are the “log cabin to white house” stories — sons of soil who have made it to the top — anything is possible for anyone in new India with talent and drive. These are the values of “liberalised” India. Now brands can now experiment like Cricket India and present new faces on the tube!|
|With a new format, a new India is staring at our face.
Something worth thinking about.