Sucheta Dalal :DLF IPL: Bring on the crowds!
Sucheta Dalal

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DLF IPL: Bring on the crowds!   

February 9, 2010

The Indian Premier League's latest avatar is desperate for people to get their frightened butts into the stadia. Quite strange that, given all the real moolah lies in television viewership. And the IPL jamboree is only about money, no matter what Mr Lalit Modi says. Guess the organisers are very worried about a lacklustre show in the stadia (which is actually half the fun for a T20 match) and have briefed their agency to create television ads solely with the intention of capturing the in-stadia fun.


Off-line, Sharad Pawar (who, frankly, should be more worried about the commodities price rise rather than IPL ticket sales, but that’s Indian politics for you) has already done his bit by begging Balasaheb Thackeray to ‘allow’ the Aussie cricketers to play in the Mumbai matches (read: no trouble in the Mumbai stadia). The rest of the work, the television commercials will have to do.


The campaign involves three TVCs. Each commercial attempts to bring out the orgy of fun spectators have during the IPL matches. In one commercial, a young female fan demands a sixer be hit, and creates a scene in the stadium, much to the consternation of the security. And she happily catches the ball when the (unseen) batsman duly responds. In the second film, skimpily clad firang cheerleaders move step for step with a bhangra dancing fan. The third film highlights the high that funnily dressed fans feel when their shenanigans get beamed on the large stadium screens. And therefore television sets. Their ten seconds of fame.


I think this is a pretty sound strategy. There are too many security restrictions at a cricket ground these days, too many dos and don’ts, too many threats of violence. Which is why a whole lot of us quickly flee to the comfort and safety of our television sets at home. And without packed and happening stadia, the T20 format of the game loses its zing. Also, the TV ads do manage to capture the fans’ energy and gusto quite well. (I especially like the bhangra-oing blonde babes). And they have stuck to the brief: there isn’t a single shot of the cricketers in action; the entire focus is on the cheering fans. Hopefully the crowds will be back, and hopefully we’ll see a safe tournament.


Now if only the BCCI would create a campaign to educate Indian fans on social behaviour. No ogling and leching at the cheerleaders. No chucking empty water bottles when the home team loses. No burning of seats. No booing of rival team players, etc, etc. And of course, a special ad for Shah Rukh Khan: No smoking, please! 
Anil Thakraney


-- Sucheta Dalal