Indian cricket fans may be grumbling after the drubbing in South Africa, but advertisers have not lost faith in the Indian team. Malcolm Speed, CEO of the International Cricket Council (ICC) told Hindustan Times on Thursday that sponsorship slots in international cricket events were attracting the highest bids from India, with the telecom, insurance, automobile and fast moving consumer goods (FMCG) sectors in the forefront. Giant public sector companies too were not far behind.
The ICC has started preparing to rope in sponsorships of events of the forthcoming eight years — from the second half of 2007 to the World Cup in Australia and New Zealand in 2015.
"We are dealing with telecom, banking, consumer electronics, insurance, motor vehicles, airlines, financial services and soft drink companies. In many categories it is the major players who have shown interest," said Speed.
"With growing media convergence and evolution likely over the next eight years sponsorship opportunities are available across a variety of platforms, including television, internet, mobile, radio, print and on billboards at the cricketing venues themselves," said Speed.
"Cricket is a mass media sport. There are big opportunities here for any segment which targets a mass audience. The slot will be hotly contested," said Piyush Pandey, chairman and managing director Ogilvy India.
Along with existing sponsors till the end of World Cup 2007 like LG Electronics, Pepsi, Hutch and Hero Honda, new sponsors who could be pitching for a place include top private players like AirTel, Vodafone, Hyundai, Aviva, LIC and Samsung and public sector majors like Indian Oil Corporation, Oil and Natural Gas Commission and Bharat Sanchar Nigam Ltd.
"So far we have had good response from our four existing global sponsors. We also have received responses from multinational companies, which have not earlier been involved in cricket," said Speed.
Hemant Sachdeve, corporate director, marketing, Bharti Group, said, "The next thing to look forward to is what the Twenty20 format will do. Will it bring in fresh audiences to the game?"
"Cricket is a great medium. It breaks all barriers of language, region and lately it has broken the gender barrier as well," said Sandeep Tiwari, head LG marketing LG India.
The broadcasting agreement for the tournaments to be played between second half of 2007 till 2015 has already been concluded for an estimated $ 1.1 billion with ESPN. Live telecasts will be supported by an integrated promotion plan for major events.
In all 18 ICC tournaments with two ICC Cricket World Cups, in Asia (2011) and Australasia (2015), and a minimum of three ICC Champions Trophy tournaments are on the block. It would also include the first two ICC Twenty20 World Championships, in South Africa (2007) and England (2009), the latter taking place in the ICC's centenary year.
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