"We are ready to talk to the cricketers directly" : Ganesh Mahalingam LG India marketing chief

LG India, one of the official sponsors for the forthcoming World Cup cricket, has been in the spotlight of the cricket sponsorship row.

The LG stance has been clearly strident. Not only did the company decide not to advertise heavily on SET Max during the Champions Trophy in Sri Lanka some time back, it has also decided not to get cowed down by the aggression being displayed by BCCI chief Jagmohan Dalmiya over the last few days.

And with Dalmiya announcing yesterday that he has quit the ICC‘s contracts‘ body, another twist to the sponsorship row has been added.

In the backdrop of all these developments, it is interesting to see what an official sponsor thinks because most of the fraternity has been speaking in bits and pieces, preferring to keep away from the limelight and any other controversy. In this interview with done in New Delhi, Ganesh Mahalingam, the marketing chief of LG India which, reportedly, has paid over $ 30 million dollars for certain rights, discussed the latest controversy and other related issues.

As one of the official sponsors for the cricket World Cup, how does LG view the present cricket imbroglio that has beset Indian cricket?

The present imbroglio is very unfortunate. If the signatories of the national cricket board to ICC‘s terms and conditions had taken the players concerned into confidence, such an incident would not have arisen.

Do you feel this sponsorship row may actually result in India sending a B team that will hurt the sponsors‘ interests?

I do not think anybody wants a `B‘ team to go. Let alone the sponsors. We have sponsored the game of cricket, so that the best of the teams compete with each other so as to give maximum entertainment to the people of India and also fulfill the hopes of the Indian public that the Indian team will get the World Cup back to our shores after 20 years.

Has the BCCI approached any of the official sponsors of the World Cup to go in for a compromise?

Nobody has approached LG with a formal authorisation. As far as compromises are concerned, the dispute is essentially between BCCI and ICC.

"The ICC is the forum that handles the global partners‘ interests and it speaks on our (sponsors‘) behalf"

Have any of the players concerned approached any of the official sponsors like LG to help facilitate a settlement?

While none of the players have approached, we at LG are willing to talk to the players directly without any intermediaries to arrive at an amicable solution, so that vested interests do not sabotage/hijack the occasion.

Why aren‘t all the official World Cup sponsors forming an association or a union like the players to speak in one language?

We don‘t need a separate union or an association. The ICC is the forum that handles the global partners‘ interests and it speaks on our behalf. However, it will be a good idea if the global partners are involved or are a part of the IPA(Indian Players Association) as we do a lot of investment in the game of cricket.

Is an association not possible because the interest and agenda of each official sponsor is different?

While our interests may be different but in broader terms all of us believe that CRICKET COMES FIRST.

How is LG attempting to go around the cricket sponsorship row?

We will play as constructive a role as possible, keeping in mind the investments that we have made, and offer our services to mediate so as to solve this issue as soon as possible in the national interest.

In this whole row, what are the issues involved?

The issues are complex and more or less in the public domain. The ICC and the BCCI have to sort out their contractual differences and the sponsors have no role in this as these two bodies have conferred previously and arrived at the contract. However a lot of transparency is required as to the nature of understanding the two parties have, and people should not jump to conclusions on hearsay.

How much of money has LG spent on getting the sponsorship rights?

We cannot give this figure out. However, media reports suggest that all sponsors put together are forking out close to $550-$600 million.

"A lot of transparency is required as to the nature of understanding the two parties (ICC and BCCI) have"

Has LG already started its media buying for cricket or is it still waiting for the Indian cricket row to be settled?

Our plans are on and we will be using both the channels, SET Max and Doordarshan .

Is LG buying more time on terrestrial network or the satellite network?

It will all depend on the deal that is offered to us. We have not closed any deals until now.

As a sponsor, do you think Doordarshan is likely to end up delivering more eyeballs than SET Max?

That will only be evident after the analysis we will do after the tournament.

What is the feedback on LG‘s commercials that can be seen on the telly now?

We are getting very excellent feedback on our CRICKET FIRST campaign with the 14 cricket captains.

How come in one of the ads where various captains wear each other‘s T-shirts, nobody is shown wearing Saurav Ganguly‘s T-shirt? Was it deliberate?

No, it was not deliberate. We had shot the particular ad with most of the captains, including Saurav, but in the shorter version of the ad we could not show all the captains.

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