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SMSs fly thick & fast for MAX 'Lagaan' contest

MUMBAI: If the "Lagaan World Cup Eleven" contest held on Republic Day during the screening of Aamir's Khan cricket-related movie on Sony's MAX is any indication, SMS messaging is set to escalate during the forthcoming ICC cricket World Cup 2003. This augers well for the telecom majors.

The Lagaan contest had an interesting tag-line: "Watch India vs England on January 26; watch India vs England on February 26!". The first match is the contest between Bhuvan's (played by Aamir Khan in the movie) eleven versus the East India company's British team. The second refers to Saurav Ganguly's team taking on Nazir Hussain's Englishmen at Kingsmead, Durban.

The contest urged viewers to SMS the answer to a simple question from their mobile phones (to 3636) or log on to max.setindia.com. The contest promised to take 11 lucky winners to South Africa and enable them to watch the World Cup cricket 2003 league match involving the Indians and the English players.

Consider the following statistics: a total of 68,800 messages were received during the five-hour period (starting 1 pm) when the movie was screened. There were 29,075 correct answers. Compare this with the total of 100,000 messages received for Predikta, the interactive game show during the Champions Trophy 2002. The responses for Predikta were received over a 10-hour duration. The website received a total response of 3,900 entries.

Max officials claim that no other channel's contest has ever receievd this kind of a response. They add that this response is an indication of things to come for "the bigger and better" version of Predikta that has been designed for the World Cup.

"Predikta, in its newer and bigger version, has bagged several sponsors. Pepsi is the presenting sponsor and Toyota is the main jackpot sponsor. Amongst the eight-10 remaining sponsors are companies such as Timex watches," adds Sony Entertainment executive vice president, sales and revenue management Rohit Gupta.

Interestingly, the percentage of correct answers was higher than the normal 5-10 per cent. Perhaps, the mega-stakes involved had something to do with the enthusiastic response.

The "Lagaan World Cup Eleven" contest was sponsored by Pepsodent (Hindustan Lever), Ariel (Proctor and Gamble), Livon, LML Freedom, Ford, Himalaya Protein shampoo and Titan watches. Also read

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