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The IPL brand caught in a storm

MUMBAI: The IPL brand is under threat of standing eroded if the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) does not introduce sweeping changes that include transparency and proper governance mechanisms.


With controversy swirling around the Indian Premier League, the need has come to take corrective steps and preserve the brand which is currently valued by a UK firm at $4.13 billion.
 
There is no immediate pressure, however, to downgrade the brand. “Given the scale of these allegations, there can be some damage to the brand. A lot, however, will depend on how the BCCI manages these issues and puts systems and processes in place. If they don’t behave, the IPL brand will get severely damaged in the long run,” said Intangible Businesses valuation director Richard Yoxon.


The IPL brand is being exposed to serious risks. Said Brand Finance India MD Unni Krishnan, “While the IPL brand had added significant value in a relatively short period of time, there are significant risks in terms of brand value governance & transparency, management systems & processes, and stakeholder alignment to future proof the exponential value generation capabilities of the brand.” 
 
Brand Finance had valued the IPL’s branded business at $4.13 billion, up from $2.01 billion a year ago.


Percept Joint MD Shailendra Singh expects the IPL‘s Governing Council meeting next month to result in transparency. "The issue is whether the IPL business is clean. If the Income-Tax (IT) authorities give it a clean chit, then the IPL brand will not be affected. Otherwise there will be repercussions. A brand‘s success rests on several things including its architecture, character and look. I feel that the BCCI should welcome the IT move which I call a scrutiny. It gives them the opportunity to do proper housekeeping," he said.


A positive step could be to make Shashank Manohar the IPL co-chairman, Singh suggested. However, if Modi is asked to go as reports have been suggesting, then it would be a body blow to the IPL brand. 
 
"Modi has been brand IPL. He had the vision to build the league and for him to go at this point of time would be a most unfortunate development," Singh added.


Some experts feel the IPL as a credible brand will largely hinge on the content that comes out of the IT investigations. "So far there have been rumours and speculations. The IT report hints at several things like match-fixing and betting, but there need to be facts,” the head of a sports marketing firm said on request of anonymity.


The IPL is becoming a political battle with all the parties trying to benefit from the mud-slinging game. "The Congress made Tharoor a soft target. Now they can afford to go after Lalit Modi as he is said to have BJP links. What is interesting, though, is that Sharad Pawar is backing Modi. The NCP is a Congress ally. Pawar might have a big role to play in terms of how things turn out for Modi and the BCCI", said a political observer.


How do advertisers view the playout of events? According to GroupM media buying head Prashant Kumar, advertisers should focus more on what the product delivery would look like next year as opposed to worrying too much about the skirmishes at the moment. "Of course there is concern about what is going on. At the same time an advertiser looks at the viewer’s engagement with the product. They will focus on the fact that there will be more matches and more venues next year. That means more visibility. If people tune into the product, there is no issue", he said.


A spokesperson at VRock Mobile, which has done a long term service deal with the IPL for mobile Vas, believes that the IPL will weather the storm and get bigger and stronger. "The key is that it is run in a professional manner", he said.


The next steps by the BCCI, however, will decide whether the IPL brand will continue to grow or stay as a property whose true value couldn’t be realised.

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