Penny pinching

Our cover story tries to make sense of the high stakes game that is cricket advertising.

If Karl Marx would have been born in India, he might have well written, “Cricket, Bollywood and religion are the opium of the people.” All three have a hypnotic effect on the fanatic without delivering a tangible benefit. This blind addiction has been used to good effect by those who peddle it. 

Our cover story this issue is on cricket advertising. Of all the stakeholders involved, the viewer has the minimum say, but megabucks are made off him and now with the IPL upon us, her as well. The BCCI hauls it in by virtue of its monopoly. Some well-funded broadcasters then go overboard bidding for the rights. And then, the final squeeze is on the advertiser, who mysteriously so far has been throwing in
big bucks despite the questionable return on investment. 

The justification always has been that “India is a cricket crazy nation and nothing comes closer in terms of reach and popularity.” The viewership numbers, however, say otherwise. Even with the much-hyped snazzy short-version IPL, viewership has been falling-to-stagnant since its first season. Advertising rates, however, have doubled and that has been the case for pretty much all major cricket properties. Of late, however, advertisers have started acting cranky. Whether it is because of the tough economic environment or because the rip-off is starting to hurt will only be clear in the months to come. Our cover story tries to make sense of the high stakes game that is cricket advertising.

In other stories, we have a feature on how the market for breakfast cereals is finally exploding. Even a decade ago, one didn’t see a perceptible change in breakfast habits. But now, the traditional Indian breakfast is being replaced by ready-to-eat and quick-to-make cereals as time constraint takes its toll. Read our story on how each player in that segment is trying to make the most of it, here