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!