Will Jasprit Bumrah’s absence from T20 WC take the boom out of brands’ plans?

Jasprit Bumrah, India’s big and key World Cup player, may miss the T20 World Cup due a stress fracture of the back. While an official announcement is awaited, Bumrah is currently not playing the series against South Africa. BCCI is monitoring the situation and is hoping that Bumrah makes a fast recovery and is able play against Australia. He is a star cricketer and a wicket taking bowler who has been instrumental in winning many matches for India in the past. His absence will be a big blow to the team and can also affect the overall morale of the team. Besides that, Bumrah also has close to 20 million followers on the social media which clearly shows the popularity and following for this ace speedster. While getting injured is part of any sports but the frequent non- availability of a player due to injury really hurts the team and the overall combination of the team gets disturbed in a game of cricket which is a team game where each one player plays his part.

Bumrah today is endorsing a host of brands starting from Dream11, Boat, Reliance Retail’s Performax and Thums Up, to name a few. Keeping in mind the T20 World Cup, these brands must have aggressively planned and invested for their promotional campaign to leverage the T20 World cup which is currently the most talked about sporting event across the country and fans are just waiting eagerly to follow the game and many are also planning to go to Australia to watch it live. While Bumrah’s brand characteristics fits and connects with many brands but his injury woes will give these brands sleepless nights. While regular breaks and his work load is managed and monitored by the team management the current injury may really upset many brands who are close to him especially for a mega cricketing event like T-20 world cup where the following of the game is very high.

Especially in the case of a fizzy drinks brand like Thums Up, the mini summer season is very important as the consumption of the drink will be high. With T-20 world cup happening during the mini summer season, the brand would have loved to seen their star celebrity cricketer Bumrah live in action at Australia. While we may see the ads of Bumrah during that period but if Bumrah was there in action that will add more punch, excitement and value to the brand. The mini summer season is the time when Thums Up pumps in lot of money apart from the main summer season. The brand would have loved to see Bumrah in action down under and leverage his presence to the maximum as the eye balls will peak the maximum during this tournament both on TV and mobile. What’s more, Bumrah is also a match winner and the expectations set are high when he is in the team. The viewership for India-Pakistan matches has been very strong on digital platform in the just concluded Asia Cup. The second game between India and Pakistan recorded a viewership of over 14 million. This viewership is likely to only go up further as world cup is a bigger platform where more countries are competing to win the prestigious T-20 title.

When brands sign any celebrity there is the inherent risk as the celebrity may hit a hurdle either due to poor performances in his craft or something he or she says or does that is controversial.  Giving his observations, Lloyd Mathias, Business Strategist and a former senior marketer with PepsiCo, Motorola and HP Asia, said, “With sportspersons, there is always the additional risk of injury or non-selection due to poor form. Jasprit Bumrah missing the T20 World Cup due to injury is indeed unfortunate and completely unexpected. However, brands may still use some of the communication developed earlier – during the tournament, as his imagery will stay relevant. During the ICC World Cup, a cricketer of Bumrah’s stature will still command attention and draw eyeballs.”

“Also, good advertising tends to play off a celebrity’s personality and popularity and does not necessarily depend on his playing or not playing on a particular day. Well-crafted communication can still be relevant and appealing,” Mathias added.

According to Navroze D Dhondy, Founder and Managing Director, Creatigies Communications, “Whenever a leading athlete gets injuries and is ruled out of competitive sport, it does have the impact on the brands that have sponsored him or her. Recently, Neeraj Chopra missed the CWG. A lot of hopes were pinned on him, and everyone was hoping for a Gold Medal…where the brands would leverage the victory! Alas, it did not happen and an opportunity went abegging.”

Adding further Dhondy pointed out that similarly, some brands would have been hoping Bumrah would be part of the winning T20 World Cup team, but then who can predict injuries.

“Mature brands and brand managers/ owners now understand this, and will hopefully take it in their stride.Whining is of little use,” he maintained.

Atul Raja, Executive Vice President - Global Marketing, Wadhwani Foundation, remarked, “Although it is difficult to gauge the direct impact on the brands that Jasprit Bumrah endorses due to his injury-led absence from India’s squad for the upcoming T20 Cricket World Cup in Australia, one thing is for sure; the impact will not be as monumental as the blow to the team’s fortunes. Having said that, there is a strong case for a limited negative brand impact on his endorsed brands due to the timing, as businesses are just about seeing an uptick, and so are the ad spends.”

To get back into their groove and recapture the mood of the customers after a couple of debilitating pandemic years, brands are perhaps keener than ever to hitch-hike on platforms and properties that will give them a head start. So, brands like JSW, boAt, Zaggle and Unix would probably have to look for alternate platforms to make a big bang during the festive season (b) the opportunity lost to directly address the youthful target audience of some of the brands that Jasprit represents (Dream 11, boat, etc.) which are a strong fit with the T20 cricket audience, Raja remarked.

In today’s dynamic social media world, the news got flashed all over the media when Bumrah was not be available for the world cup due to his injury. While it is difficult to measure whether it will have a ripple effect on the brands that he is aligned to, but the fans of Bumrah and the owners of the brands will be emotionally upset as he is a star performer. The presence of Bumrah in the team is a huge asset as he brings in lot of energy and the winning feeling for team India in any outing of cricket be it test cricket or the shorter formats. Brands will have to quickly put their thinking hat and see how they can salvage their plans incase Bumrah misses the world cup. Everyone would be wishing that he quickly recovers from this injury and soon be back on the ground very soon. And if he recovers on time for World cup that will be a huge bonus for everyone as he is the backbone of team India.


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