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Pay money, will say just about anything

cricket Updated: Feb 04, 2011 00:14 IST
Alberto Furlan
Alberto Furlan
Hindustan Times
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It’s tense out there for the organisers. While journalists can relax and ask easy questions, and athletes don’t have to do anything thanks to their aura, it’s the brand managers who have a real tough time at press conferences.

Like actors in a play, every mistake they make, imperceptible to the audience, to them is catastrophic. It makes for great viewing, though.

The Herbalife press conference to present Virat Kohli as their latest standard bearer, joining the likes of Sania Nehwal and Mughda Godse, went mostly smoothly, but the devil is in the detail.

Take, for example, the moment when half-way through a journalist’s question the music came on at full-volume.

Everyone’s eyes turned to the DJ, but the event host was the one looking the most panicked. In a flash, before the gaze of journalists came back to her, the panic went and the smile returned. Disaster averted. Thing is, no one else in the room seemed to mind.

Virat was clearly well-trained in media speak, thanking the sponsors at least four times for helping his performance and stressing his privilege in being part of the brand’s ‘family’; though it’s unlikely he spends Diwali with the company’s Board of Directors.

The journalists, too, were docile on the day, with five of twelve questions based specifically on the product. The ones on cricket were run-of-the-mill too, but when one hack asked for stats, which the present CEO could not answer, the host batted the question away in fine cricketing fashion.

The only person who really seemed to step out of line, in the literal sense, was the company’s photographer. These are always easy to recognise because they point their cameras in the opposite direction, away from the celebrity and at the journalist crowd, probably for the corporate newspaper.

The moment he stepped into the TV crew’s line of sight, he felt daggers from the journalists wanting him out of the way.

It’s always fun noticing the level of micromanagement that the PR corps reach to make the press conference it’s very best.

Kohli probably has never been shoved as abruptly at his crease as he was when placed in front of the brand’s poster, providing a perfect backdrop for television. Earlier, he had been blinded by a mob of clicking cameras while waving a protein shake about.

Another almost-flawless press conference, and the organisers drew a sigh of relief as the buffet opened.