The dust is yet to settle on the judgement meted out by retired Supreme Court Chief Justice of India, R M Lodha, and there is speculation about what will be the fate of Chennai Super Kings (CSK) and Rajasthan Royals (RR). Will they have to be in hiding for two years? Should IPL induct two new teams for just two years and resurrect CSK and RR after the ban period is over? What happens to the cricketers who are with CSK and RR teams? What happens to their brand equity, their multi-million dollar endorsements?
For a start this is not the first time a sports league has been embroiled in controversy and this will not be the last time. In the book on advertising legend Albert Lasker "The Man Who Sold America" there is a whole chapter on how an independent commission had to investigate the shenanigans of teams, owners and players of the Baseball League as far back as in the 1920s.
Coming to the questions I have raised, let me start with the last one. The cricketers brand equity will not get tarnished one wee bit. If however they are not going to be playing the next Indian Premier League (IPL) due to the ban on their teams, they will suffer a bit of brand erosion, up until the next big tournament. If at all they need to consider any change in their approach in the wake of the judgement, they need to see if they can make a small adjustment in their endorsement fees. One idea that I am sure many would explore is to extend the contract that the players have with the brands they endorse by 45 days, to compensate for the loss of IPL visibility.
What then would be the fate of the CSK and RR teams? There is some news that BCCI may run these teams almost like a governor-ruled state administered from the centre, without an active legislature. That is a possible solution which may keep everyone happy. Now let us examine some interesting creative solutions that may also provide some new twists to this tale.
First a bit about cities and their changing names, however.
When Bombay became Mumbai many companies and undertakings that worked with the city's administration and allied services faced a problem. They were very well known as acronyms starting with the alphabet
'B'. With the change in the city's name, they were faced with the prospect of having to rethink their names and the acronyms. What would happen if they are all forced to change from 'B' to 'M? But some wise brand guru, not me, thought of an elegant solution. What if the organisations could work out a way of retaining 'B' and yet take into account the city's new name 'Mumbai'. The word 'Brihan' is derived from the Sanskrit word 'Brihat' which means big/major, so BrihanMumbai essentially means Bigger or Greater Mumbai. This solution managed to save the brands that used 'B' an enormous amount of headache. And saved their acronym brands. So BMC can remain BMC [unfortunately as some would say]. And BEST could remain BEST. What an elegant solution!
Unfortunately, when Madras became Chennai they did not think the change through. So instead of going from Madras to say 'MahaChennai' they moved from M to C. So MMC, became CMC [the municipal corporation had to change its name; the private institutions continued in their old avatar, Madras Christian College stayed MCC]. The Madras Refineries Ltd became Chennai Petroleum Corporation Ltd. What a loss of brand recognition for the entities involved!
Taking a cue from this, here is therefore an elegant solution to handle the CSK and RR vanvaas problem. What if CSK becomes Coimbatore Super Kings and RR becomes the Rajputana Royals? The team composition stays the same. The ownership moves to a co-operative body owned by the players themselves and supported by BCCI. And two years later the teams revert to their old names Chennai and Rajasthan are resurrected in all their glory.
I know that you are reading this article and wondering why is he making fun of such a serious happening to my favourite team, CSK or/and RR. But then isn't IPL all about fun and games anyway?