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South Africa: Using the World Cup to promote business

January 04, 2003 15:41 IST

Let's forget, for a moment, about ambush marketing and the battles between the Board of Cricket Control of India and the International Cricket Council. Instead, let's look at the United Cricket Board of South Africa and how it has planned for the World Cup.

In many ways UCBSA could be a role model for others. It has a superb payment system for its cricketers who are graded according to their performance in the previous year. Then, they are offered contracts that match their talent and performance.

The board is run like a company with a chief executive and other managers. They are all highly paid and accountable, as compared to the 'honorary jobs' their counterparts in India do.

Four years ago when England hosted the Cup, the South Africans were watching from the stands. The executives who would be hosting World Cup, 2003 observed, took notes and they made contacts for the future.

They were equally meticulous at home. For starters, their grounds were spruced up. It is reckoned that about $4.3 million has been spent to improve the venues. About $1.4 million has been spent to smarten up St George's Park, which hosts one semi-final.

Interestingly, less than half that amount ($505,000) has come from the budgeted $4.3 million.

The remainder will be financed by anticipated revenue from the tournament. Similarly, $87,000 has been allocated for Matrizburg Oval and $505,000 for Kingsmead which hosts another semi-final.

What has the money been spent on? South Africa's top grounds have adequate facilities, especially for the paying public. But media facilities weren't very good compared to countries like Australia. But they were better than most Indian venues.

Apart from improving media facilities, the South Africans are also putting in new drainage and irrigation systems at various venues; and programmable automatic pop-up sprinkler systems. India, which has hosted two World Cups, has pathetic facilities by comparison.

World Sport Group has paid up $550 million for a seven-year deal, which includes the commercial rights for the 2003 and 2007 Cricket World Cups. So, for the 2003 tournament, it is spending about $250 million for television, Internet and sponsorship rights.

As for the prize money, the winning team gets $2.2 million, from a total prize fund of $5 million.

The South Africans know this is a great opportunity to make money. After the marketing agents take their share, the profits will be shared in the following manner -- 50 per cent goes to the hosts, 25 per cent to ICC and the remaining 25 per cent to the participating nations.

There is a minimum guarantee that the participating nations are getting -- but that is after signing the controversial Participating Nations Agreement, which bars players from endorsing any company, in conflict with the ICC's official sponsors.

The official sponsors like Hero Honda and South African Airways have put in upwards of $22 million each, besides which there are Global Partners, Pepsi and LG Electronics.

There are 11 official World Cup suppliers, ranging from official publications to catering suppliers. TBWA Hunt Lascaris and Inroads (Pty) Ltd are the official advertising agencies.

Four South African publishing companies have joined forces to form the publications consortium for the 2003 Cricket World Cup.

They will produce all the official publications, ranging from match programmes to the glossy tournament brochure along with visitors guides and tourist information booklets.

Then, the competing teams, umpires, referees and VIPs, will use Southern Sun Hotels, while Afrox Healthcare and Netcare 911 will cover all medical contingencies at match venues in South Africa. Rennies Travel and Connex Travel will handle all South African travel arrangements for players, umpires, referees and VIPs.

The South African have got Bellingham to supply the wine in the VIP areas at the grounds and at all official functions. Local sponsors include SA Breweries, Standard Bank, MTN, Toyota and Dimension Data. International tour operator Edusport Gullinjet Travel is handling all the inbound travel for overseas visitors.

Clearly, the South Africans besides promoting cricket have used the World Cup as a vehicle to promote their country, tourism and business.

Is it any wonder then that companies trying to sneak in through ambush marketing are being dealt with severely. As, they say, it's all about money, honey.

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V Krishnaswamy