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issue: January 2003 APPLIANCE Magazine

New Delhi Report
Cricket Fever

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World Cup cricket is to Indian sport and marketing as the Super Bowl is to American marketers.

The World Cup cricket bandwagon has begun to roll, and this time it's appliance maker LG that is first off the block with a complete consumer marketing package that will be launched on the occasion of the ICC Cricket World Cup tournament to be held in South Africa in 2003. Marketers in India have zeroed in on the two national obsessions among Indians - cricket and movies. LG has set the ball rolling with a marketing campaign titled "Always Cricket First" that will see it invest Rs 400 million (U.S. $8.2 million) in advertising and a slew of consumer promotions in and around the event.

The campaign comprises 22 television commercials featuring each of the captains participating in the 14-nation tournament. The campaign began on Dec. 1 across all major TV channels. Ravi Shastri, former Indian cricket captain who was signed by LG earlier this year as its brand ambassador, is also part of the campaign. The campaign has Mr. Shastri interacting with the captains in a series of different situations. According to Ganesh Mahalingam, general manager of Marketing for LG, "The campaign is designed to promote the spirit of the game and urge people to pledge their support to put cricket first. It revolves around the passion, obsession, and dedication cricket generates in people in India and creatively captures the aspirations and emotions of both the players and the millions of cricket fans for whom its always cricket first." LG is the official global partner of all ICC tournaments until 2007, which includes the World Cups in 2003 and 2007.

Cricket has always been a mega consumer marketing event, but the World Cup and marketers like Pepsi and Coca-Cola have been major spenders and sponsors of cricketing-related promotions and advertising. However, over the last few years, appliance makers have begun to aggressively focus their marketing activities around cricket. LG was among the leading sponsors of the World Cup event held in 1999 in England. Evidently, the company's association with the game has benefited it favorably, as it has decided to help promote the 2003 World Cup.

Samsung as well has jumped into the cricket fray by signing up with a number of cricketers to endorse its products. Samsung has also been associated with football events. During the World Cup Football event earlier this year, it had targeted sales worth Rs 3.1 billion ($64 million) toward a campaign called "Samsung Dabaake Jeeto," during which it introduced a new range of flat and projection TVs. It organized special in-store promotions in what are considered three soccer-crazy places, Kolkata, Goa, and Kerala. Gifts worth Rs 100 million ($2 million) were given away during the campaign and included products like digital flat TVs, frost-free refrigerators, microwave ovens, washing machines, mobile phones, and cameras.

With cricket being much more popular in India than soccer, practically every consumer goods company is expected to target the forthcoming ICC World Cup Cricket tournament. Eventually, it will be a fight for eyeballs during the most popular cricketing event. For apart from consumer appliances, just about every consumer product will be eyeing a share of the cricket lovers' (which comprises nearly three-fourths of the Indian population) attention. It remains to be seen whether appliance makers can break through the clutter of cricket-related promotions.

This report is filed by Adite Chatterjee, New Delhi correspondent, APPLIANCE magazine.


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