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Where is Mr Confederations Cup?

For the last month, South Africa has been enveloped by the IPL action that has graced our TV screens, hearts and minds. This massively successful sporting extravaganza took South Africa (and the world) by storm converting even non-sports fans into rampant IPL supporters. It is this success that now only highlights the issues surrounding the Confederations Cup and the marked disparity between the marketing presence of both events.
It is difficult for us to unpack the exact reasons for the IPL success, but there are a few key factors that to me are glaringly obvious, most importantly the marketing surrounding the tournament. We all know about the logistical nightmare involved with moving the IPL to South Africa with such short notice; however this never detracted from the success of the event.

The first (and probably the most important) success factor was the accessibility of Lalit Modi (owner of the IPL) affectionately coined “Mr IPL”. Throughout the tournament, he made South Africa his home and was massively accessible to the South African media, generating PR exposure from the second he touched down on South African soil. This is PR 101- appoint a spokesperson and ensure that he is always available and present to comment. Not only was Lalit available, he too was massively positive about the tournament, never letting negativity cloud his publicity campaign. He surrounded himself with local marketing experts (the likes of Francois Pienaar) and drew on this knowledge and expertise when rolling out the tournament on foreign soil. This leaves me with one question, where is Mr. Confederations Cup? To date there has been no clear spokesperson for this event and very little communication, hindering the PR hype that should surround such a tournament. Marketing budgets aside, attitude and accessibility doesn't cost anything!

An entrepreneurial spirit has real power. Lalit is an entrepreneur at heart. He is a massively successful businessman and has brought this knowledge to the IPL tournament. From the way he injected fun into cricket, to the way he treated his sponsors. The clever substitution of DLF max instead of 6, was used by commentators throughout the tournament, giving massive (and clever) exposure to the headline sponsor DLF. It is this entrepreneurial spirit that gives pull when attracting sponsors to these types of tournaments. Unfortunately the norm in sponsorship deals is the restrictions placed on the sponsors in terms of what they can't do instead of what they can, why not give your sponsors their dues when it comes to exposure? One thing's for sure, it will keep them coming back for more! The Confed Cup however has been treated very differently in terms of sponsorship deals. The LOC is a government appointed team that doesn't seem to have embraced sponsors involvement, in fact has criticised them for not punting the tournament enough? Is promotion of the tournament really the responsibility of the sponsors? It is perhaps this mindset that causes a massive disparity between the private enterprise IPL and the government-led Confederations Cup?

One of the greatest successes of the IPL was the celebrity status that surrounded the players in this tournament. They were treated as demi-gods, their faces were splashed all over the media, the bidding process for players publicised, and sporting rivals turned team mates was showcased to all.

From radio and TV ads to press conferences, we knew that the best of the best were playing in the IPL tournament. The Confed Cup is no different (in terms of celebrity sportsmen that is). In the next few weeks the likes of Robinho, Xavi, Kaka, Torres, Cannavaro…. (the list goes on) will be mooring ship on our shore. These are some of the best footballers in the world and anyone with a little media savvy would ensure that we all knew it!

The arrogance of it! Perhaps the biggest gripe I have with the Confederations Cup is what appears to be an overly confident approach to marketing there isn't any! It appears that the LOC is hedging their bets on the strength of past tournaments to draw crowds to this one. Now don't get me wrong, the avid soccer supporter will be at the matches, but what about the rest of our country? I am sure during the IPL most families considered attending a match or at least watched one on television; I think it is safe to assume that the same is not true for the Confederations Cup. There is no hype, no excitement and at present no draw card. It may be unfair of me to pass judgement on a tournament that hasn't happened, but I honestly feel that the hype should have kicked in by now; they are running out of time!

10 Jun 2009 10:43

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About the author

Anthony Swart is the CEO of The Brand Union in Africa. A deeply rooted African, with decades of experience in branding and marketing, Anthony has a passion for developing this continent and its brands, and a vision to help grow indigenous African brands to achieve their full potential.



He has a Bachelor of Arts in Industrial Psychology, and an MBA focussing on truth in brand promise.



Anthony is married with three children, two Rottweilers, two cats, four fish, a hamster and a Senegalese parrot.




vinita mathur
Immersed in the spirits of IPL!-
Anthony why you , the whole world wants to know the success mantra of IPL in SAfrica! When the whole word, even the super economy USA also, are in the clutches of recession, IPL showered green rains of currency in SA! What is recession when Lalit Modi is your guardian???But if you know Mr Lalit Modi then you should not be asking this ques.! LKM, is the brand name for thrill and super success!He has middas touch, whatever he touches , is turned into gold literally!Why otherwise a similar league named ICL was a super flop in India! LKM is that marketing encyclopedia, which has all the answers to the marketing tactics!He is a one man army of IPL, carrying only his passion on his sleev! Why, did you not notice the fervour and enthu with which he talked always in SA?Working all by him self with his teams, he never was tired!The General elections of our country took a back seat in the media and he the front, can you believe that! He is a phenomena! When his own country denied him a few inputs , he had to take IPL out and We INDIANS and LKM supporters are thank ful to SA for that! 22 days and this mommoth task of handling the most hi-fi cricketers on a foreign land, with the kind of responsibility , only he could do!Why only to SA media, LKM is strongly connected to every one through his cell phones, which ring 24*7! Not giving in to a serious threat by mafia to him and his family, he kept walking rather running with the clock!He truly believes in giving the dues to every one. In keeping with that only he conceived the payment structure of the cricketers making them stars overnight! Why only the known ones but also the anonymous ones too! Today the whole world knows GONI,KOHLI,PUJARA,YUSUF and many more! He is passionate about IPL as actually all we Indians are! But he is one and only who has llived his dream this big!
So not only confederation cup, Anthony many of your mega events would be faded now as the lustre and gleam of IPL would always live in South Africa! The spirit of IPl is such that it envelops every thing around it! This is because it is run by a truthful, honest , self less ,straight forward and genuine man and feelings!
Once I start on IPL or IPL MAN , its difficult to stop me! Thanx for listening! Thanx to South Africa on record by we IPL people for making our IPL so dear there too! Cheers :)!
Posted on 11 Jun 2009 09:49
Rutendo Chabururuka
For Sure there was One Needed-
I really concur that there wasn't enough or at least deserved hype about Confeds Cup except from MTN who abviously stand to gain a lot from the roaming and other telecomms services that they are cashing in on. There was need for an iconic figure to be used to roll out communications that generates excitment, expectation and hype the landing of the soccer greats that are gracing Mzansi this winter.
Other than that there are various opportunities that could have been explored by other sponsors to get people to fly from as far off as Angola to come and watch live, the action which warms up for 2010 World Cup. I guess this can be a lesson for next year that teaches people to be better prepared and be hyped up enough for such World class events.
Posted on 16 Jun 2009 15:23
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