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Cricketing ads minus players

New Delhi, Sept. 10: When $550 million and a mega viewership event like the Champions Trophy are at stake, ICC’s deal with Team India can hardly hold back advertisers from airing alternate or modified ads.

Samsung has decided to freeze its mega-budget ad featuring seven cricketers from Dravid to Sehwag to Kumble, and instead use one that takes off on the cricket fever without showing players’ faces.

“As a fallout of yesterday’s deal between ICC and the Indian XI, we expect requests from players not to use their images. We always had contingency plans and creative ads which were a kind of backup and these will now come into play,” said Ruchika Batra, a spokesperson for Samsung India Ltd, which is spending about Rs 35 crore on ads featuring cricket or cricketers.

Coca Cola, too, will be dropping its Sehwag ads for the duration of the “ICC troubles”. Sources said it is, however, mulling the use of cricketing ads minus cricketers. Which, if true, may just mean Coke star Aamir Khan could shed his lungi for white flannels and his bottle-opener for the willow!

Rival Pepsi is sitting pretty as it is one of ICC’s official sponsors. It can beam its repertoire of ads featuring Sachin, Sourav, Harbhajan, Laxman, Zaheer Khan, Agarkar and Mohammed Kaif.

But official sponsor LG is still touchy about the “dilution of contract obligations”, as put by marketing head Ganesh Mahalingam.

The BCCI has agreed to stand by the players should any of the companies --- either the sponsors or companies that use the stars as endorsers --- claim damages from them. The compensation will come from the ICC.

Mahalingam said: “We feel a little bad, but we are definitely not going to create a conflict situation which could give Jagmohan Dalmiya an issue to send the B team --- which we definitely do not want to happen.”

LG has earmarked Rs 20 crore for an ad campaign which will feature all 14 captains of the teams playing in the World Cup. “We cannot put any figure to how much loss this dilution of terms will mean to business. But we expect a compensation and hope the tournament goes on uninterrupted,” Mahalingam said.

New wave ad guru Navroze Dhondy of Percept Integrated Marketing Communications, which also handles the Sahara brand communication, said the Sahara logo will remain on the T-shirts of the cricketers.

“Sahara is not only into airlines, Sahara is for all brands that include parabanking, real estate, TV channels,” he said.

Earlier, there were fears that a sponsor, South African Airways, would raise objections. However, Sahara, which happens to be the official sponsor of the Indian team, said the ambush marketing clause does not affect it and its logo would be worn by the Indian team.

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