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Love, sex and dhoka
I define a brand simply. My definition: the brand is a thought. A thought that lives in people's minds. To that extent, IPL is a thought. A thought that lives in millions of people's minds. A thought that is positive, a thought that is negative, and a thought that is even mixed-up in what it conveys.
IPL Season 5 has allegedly had it all - Love, Sex and 'Dhoka' ! Lots of love with the WAGS all around, lots of sex which none of us want to know about, and if one is to believe the fixing allegations, there was dhoka as well!
Let's give it to IPL then. What Lalit Modi created from scratch is today a five-year-old toddler that is more than toddling. The IPL is today a big brand property. A property that packs significant value in the sphere of 'cricketainment'. This is just not pure cricket for sure. The purist fan of a five-day version will baulk when he or she sees the kind of innovation that this game is all about. This is really at the cusp of cricket and entertainment. The ultimate heady cocktail of the two. While cricket is the national religion of India, Bollywood is the national way of vicarious living. In the smallest of towns and villages of India, men and women live through the lives of their Bollywood stars. No wonder then that Rakhi Sawant is an icon in Tier-2 India among middle-class women, who would otherwise never ever dress the way a Rakhi Sawant does, or better still dance the way she does, or worse still talk the way she does!
IPL married the realm of cricket with Bollywood. IPL brought a Vijay Mallya and a Mukesh Ambani to cricket stadiums across the country. IPL had politicians rubbing shoulders with film stars and film stars rubbed shoulders and more with cricketers and cricketers with bookies and bookies with I don't know who else. IPL to that extent is the heady cocktail of every mover and shaker that makes for business, cricket, politics, cinema and more. IPL is therefore an amalgam of people we have never ever seen together, all living a happy and unhappy life forever.
Never mind whether your latest film was a flop, you were there. Never mind if your business was tanking, you were there. Never mind if your government was going down the chute, you were there. IPL somehow had everyone who wanted eyeballs
converging on this one little space called IPL. The brand therefore happened. And how!
The downsides of IPL have been many. We have had spats on and off the field. Names such as Luke Pomersbach came to the fore in hotel room spats, allegations of match-fixing had cricketers being grilled, after-match parties had their own bits of fracas going and one rave party got busted.
Is this all needed and necessary? Is this all part of the IPL-brand toolkit?
I do believe it is. Let's remember IPL is not cricket. It is 'cricketainment' at large. Every incident makes the game that much more memorable and, hence, that much more heady. Take a heady mix of last-ball finishes, add to it cheerleaders who bring glamour and glitz, shake it all up with a Preity Zinta, a Vijay Mallya, a Shah Rukh Khan or a Priyanka Chopra (till recently)! Stir it with bits and pieces of controversy. And what do you have? IPL!
The point I make is a simple one. IPL is a frivolous brand. Not a serious one. Controversies and negative brand strokes are bad for serious brands. Controversies are bad for Satyam and Reebok and Adidas. Controversies and bickering and rave parties are all a part of the DNA of the frivolous brand. Frivolous brands need and seek out controversies. All this makes for IPL.
What next then in Season 6 of IPL? Obviously, more of it.
(Harish Bijoor is a brand consultant)
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