June 06, 2007

Belongs to us

Travelling during February and March, I missed a lot of the buildup to the recent cricket World Cup -- the articles, the ads, the TV shows, the experts offering their takes. The hype, in other words.

I'm not sorry. I mean, eight years ago there was a World Cup too, and during it the scooter maker Bajaj issued large ads in the papers. "920 million Indians will be screaming every time India plays," it said. (Or I think it said and it's 8 years on and I'm not anxious to go searching for the ad so you'll just have to take my word for it). It went on: "Don't be surprised if 13 million of them are screaming a little bit louder than the rest." (Words to that effect, you understand).

And why would those 13 million be screaming louder? Because those are the Indians who own Bajaj two-wheeled products. (The ad went on to explain).

Not that they are screaming their frustration with those products, you understand too. Here's the reasoning, also in the ad:
    "If you are really passionate about 2 wheelers, you undoubtedly own a Bajaj. You bring the same passion to other things. Like your favourite sport, cricket."
You see, it was that common World Cup time advertising technique at work, and it goes like this: "Make the connection to the World Cup. Doesn't matter how far-fetched and ludicrous, just make it."

So: You own a Bajaj. Therefore you are a passionate dudette. Therefore you scream passionately about the World Cup.

Obviously. I was so charmed by this faultless logic that I used it in an article about a crummy film I saw then, which is why I remember this ad.

So yes, I'm not sorry that I missed out on all the pre-WC hoopla this time. But I just ran across a few magazines and ads from February and March, in a pile of papers that I was about to throw out. Just for fun, I flipped through them. Here are some nuggets.

Worldspace Radio had a very pleasant full-page insert in some paper, advertising "World Cup on Worldspace", promising to "bring all the action from the Caribbean to your living room." Most of the page is taken up by three very nice Excel-style tables, yellow and brown, giving the schedule of the various matches.

The second table is for the "Second Stage: Super Eight Series". In this table, the match listed for March 31 is "Australia v India". For April 2, "India v New Zealand". April 7, "India v South Africa". April 11, "England v India". April 15, "India v Pakistan". April 19: "West Indies v India".

(A similar schedule listed for Pakistan).

The insert also has the match scheduled for April 28: Final. To my astonishment and disgust, India is not listed there. In fact, I'm considering writing to Worldspace to protest. Why isn't "World Cup Winner: India" printed at the bottom of the page?

In Outlook dated March 19, there are several articles about the Cup, much of it all about how India is poised to win it. "This Cup belongs to India," one essay quotes Sunil Gavaskar saying, "for no other country shows so much passion."

No indication if Mr Gavaskar means the selfsame Bajaj-style passion.

There's a "How the Super Eight Fare" box, listing India and Pakistan in that list of Eight. There's a "Three Teams That Could be a Thorn for India" feature. It says India "will have to play out of its skin to secure victory [against Australia] on March 31". It says "India meets New Zealand barely two days after playing Australia." It says "India will go into the Super Eight".

As far as I can tell, the sole mention in all the coverage -- the sole mention -- of a certain country called Bangladesh reads thus: "Happily for [India] the tournament's format is very kind. After playing Bangladesh and Bermuda, it takes on Sri Lanka in the crucial group league match."

I am happy to report that Outlook, unlike Worldspace, did get the hype right. On the cover of this issue are these words in bold caps: "INDIA WINS WORLD CUP."

Now excuse me while I go scream at the nearest Bajaj.


Rahul Siddharthan said...

How did WorldSpace know that April 15 (a Sunday, of course) would be India vs Pakistan, and so on?

This is how.

You see, you can't leave sponsors hanging in uncertainty over the teams playing on a lucrative Sunday. So a team's placement in the group games didn't affect the Super Six schedule at all. Or shouldn't have, except that India and Pakistan failed even to qualify.

Serve the sponsors right.

Dilip D'Souza said...

Rahul, thanks! I didn't know about that page on rediff, nor about the official ICC schedule it points to. Turns out my Worldspace insert is identical to that ICC schedule. Even down to the disclaimer that rediff makes fun of.

I'm writing to ICC right away. In 2011, there's no need for any foolishness such as actually playing. Simply fly all the teams out to wherever the WC is happening, let them run around a bit, and anoint India the winner. Seems like a foolproof plan to me. None of this messy stuff like qualifying.

km said...


If they send you stock tips, please send them my way, Dilip.

Anonymous said...

1. Isnt this a bit late for WC musing?

2. ... Simply fly all the teams out to wherever the WC is happening, let them run around a bit, and anoint India the winner. ...

If we can feel entitled enough to reservation benefits to die/ kill for it in numbers as much evidenced recently, cricket WC is small potatoes.