This must be the most advertiser-friendly cricket World Cup ever. Every nanosecond, every square centimeter seems to have a sponsor. Sponsored ground space, sponsored screens, players' attire, etc. is passe. The sponsored pre- and post-programmes, on almost every TV channel, have capsules within capsules within capsules. Some of these are so small that they give "blink and you miss" a new definition altogether.
I don't know if one can call it an advertiser's dream or an advertiser's nightmare. Whatever it may be, the guys who have a few bucks to spare would still look for an innovation and back it, as they live and die for just one thing: the clutter-breaking idea.
The air in the marketing departments of some of India's top advertisers and around the smoking areas of top ad agencies has been thick with some ideas of late, just as the tournament begins to wind its way towards what the commentators have been referring to as, oddly enough, the business end. I have been snooping and decided that I must spill the beans...
The first of these clutter-breaking ideas is about the act of breaking, and it's not about records. It's about televisions. A TV manufacturer has decided to place his TVs at the ground, near the pavilion, and every batsman who gets out cheaply will get to smash a TV set. This act of smashing will be on the giant screens as well, with a disclaimer: These batsmen are smashing TVs of their own volition, and are not at all inspired by Ricky Ponting or any other Aussie.
Then there is this truly big idea that's just emerged from Bangalore and Nagpur. The police are putting up their lathis (Hindi for wooden sticks) for sponsorship, and at the last count at least 50 advertisers had stepped up. These included insurance providers and hospitals (an obvious sponsor, silly), and the real clutter-breaking partnership that seems to be emerging, political parties.
The political parties involved are the ones likely to lose the forthcoming elections and are keen on recruiting these eager fans, who will queue up even as they know that they don't have a hope in hell as far as getting tickets is concerned. These guys can become diehard supporters for the duration of the elections.
Then there are some other sponsorships that are likely to be offered to certain teams only. The England team is being chased by the biggest hospitals in India and they are bargaining hard as a few more of their players are about to declare themselves unfit and unavailable. The Kenyan team are on the shopping list of a fast-food chain that has a long list of EXTRAS on its menu. And the Indian team has been roped in by the government of India's Ministry of Tourism, with the slogans, "Atithi Devo Bhav" (The guest is like god) and "Incredible India."
Of course, MS Dhoni and Piyush Chawla just got dumped by Fevicol.