India's top-notch companies, which put their money in cricket, are cold to spending money on the Indian Cricket League, especially after the victory of the country in the Twenty20 World Cup and a busy 90 days of international cricket that will continue till the December-end (the Australian tour will be followed by Pakistan).
However, media buyers are divided on the impact of the Twenty20 on the fate of Chandra's ICL.
Consumer durables major LG Electronics, which is a big player in cricket, is not planning to put in money on the ICL. "We are not looking at sponsoring the ICL. It is not in our focus this time," says V Ramachandran, director, sales and marketing, LG Electronics India.
Mineral water giant Bisleri International, which has been negotiating with the ICL to become an anchor sponsor, is also changing track.
"We wanted to be associated with a programme that did not have the clutter of reality shows. However, for the last one month, we have not heard anything from the ICL."
Confectionery and beverage company Cadbury's too is believed to have been in talks with the ICL. "However, things did not materialise and, currently, the deal is put on hold," said a source close to the development.
Dairy major Amul too isn't keen. "Our media planners chalk out our advertising spends. Till date, they have not advised us on the ICL," said an Amul executive.
Large spenders such as telecom companies are also sitting and watching. Says a senior executive of a leading mobile company that has a large ad budget this year: "The question is we still do not know who the teams are, what the format is, what they will offer us, so you cannot take a decision. The World Cup Twenty20 struck an emotional chord with people. It is totally different from what the ICL is looking at."
Media experts are, however, divided in their approach to the ICL. "At the moment, the ICL has nothing to offer advertisers. There still is uncertainty about players, teams and the stadiums," said Pratap Bose, CEO, Ogilvy & Mather India. The concerns have grown after the ICL decided to postpone its tournaments from October 1 to mid-November this year.
"The ICC World Twenty20 win will have a positive impact on the ICL. However, the teams playing for the ICL will be a crucial deciding factor for marketers," said Hiren Pandit, managing partner, GroupM ESP, a media buying house.
A similar view is echoed by others too. "No doubt the Twenty20 format has worked and for this reason viewers may tune in. And the ICL can capitalise on the same. But where has the ICL reached so far? The progress made by the league isn't known," said Nirvik Singh, president, South and South-East Asia, Grey Global Group.
Subash Chandra's ICL will comprise six teams playing against each other, for which it has managed to rope in domestic and international cricketers.
The 50 domestic cricketers include Dinesh Mongia, Reetinder Singh Sodhi, J P Yadav, Deep Das Gupta, Laxmi Ratan Shukla, T Kumaran and Ambati Rayudu. Among the international players, it has on board Inzamam-ul-Haq, Imran Farhat and Abdul Razzaq, former South African all-rounders Lance Klusener and Nicky Boje.
The league aims to have on board three key sponsors and seven associate partners, apart from a team sponsor. While key sponsors may be shelling out about Rs 5 crore each, the associates will pay Rs 1.5-2.5 crore each, while the team sponsor may be required to pay over Rs 4 crore.
The ICL has other supporters too, who believe that good cricket will find audiences. "Initially, both the Twenty20 format and the ICL had to prove their worth. Now that the format has been established and well accepted, it's only the league that will have to prove itself. In fact, interest levels for the ICL will now be high," said Manish Porwal, managing director, Starcom India.