Tuesday, September 26, 2006


Indian Cricketers Banned From TV


I’m not entirely kidding. Mahendra Singh Dhoni, Sachin Tendulkar, et al will not be plastered all over your TV screens and billboards during this festive season, to an extent that they would normally have been. You may want to thank, or admonish, (whatever your inclination) the ICC and the Global Cricket Corporation for enforcing ambush marketing clauses that prevent players from appearing in ads for rival companies of the ICC’s official sponsors, during an ICC tournament.

For cricket, the precedent was set before the 2003 ICC Cricket World Cup. The event was almost jeopardised (in fact, it never really was, but the players needed to showboat a little – just understand na) as many sponsors were jittery over the possible non-participation of top Indian stars that pull in the crowds. It was the ambush marketing clause, inserted at the behest of the said sponsors, which irked the players at the time.

The clauses were draconian and exploitive, to say the least. The original contract prohibited contracted players from featuring in ad campaigns for their personal sponsors, if they were rivals of the official ICC sponsors, for a period six months after any ICC tournament. Moreover, the official sponsors reserved the right to use the players’ images in their own advertisements at any time during this period.

After frantic mediation and much pandering by all the high and mighty at ICC and BCCI headquarters, concessions were made by the sponsors and Tendulkar and Sourav Ganguly agreed to sign the contracts and represent their country at the World Cup. The final terms prohibited any unofficial advertisements featuring contracted players for the duration of the tournament only and the official sponsors were not allowed to use players’ images after the event.

Click here for a blow-by-blow account of the events. Click here and scroll down for a layman’s definition of ambush marketing and intriguing examples of corporate one-upmanship from the history books.

Now that you are a guru on ambush marketing, back to the future. The ICC has announced the commencement of negotiations for the sale of media and sponsorship rights for the next eight years, basically up until the 2015 Cricket World Cup in New Zealand.

It will be interesting to see how much the ICC manages to collect by selling its soul. For a number of reasons, among them being that Dalmiya and Co had previously done a shonky job of effectively valuing Indian cricket while they were in power (but that is another post altogether), I doubt we will see the same 10 fold increase we saw in the BCCI’s revenues when it recently sold its broadcast rights.

It will also be fascinating to note how Saddam-esque the new “partners” are likely to be with the ambush marketing conditions. Considering the bad publicity they and the ICC had to endure during the last show-down, we are unlikely to see anything much different to the current player conditions. Although, I have no doubt that Tim May and FICA will, as they should, do their utmost to minimise the restrictions on their members and non-members.

Interesting, and no doubt, prosperous times await us and the ICC, respectively. Let us wait and watch as to whether we will be allowed to enter the parking lot at a stadium on a dilapidated, 1970 vintage TVS moped if Hero Honda retain their membership of the inner sanctum.

PS. When are the Indian players going to band as one and join FICA? Arrrrggghhhh, so frustrating, no?

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