| Sourav Ganguly: Back on TV
New Delhi, Sept. 22: “I am Sourav Ganguly. I hope you have not forgotten me.”
Sourav fans will find a reason to remember him after India was today dumped out of the Kuala Lumpur tournament, losing to Australia by 18 runs, let down by its leading batsmen.
Then there will be others who’ll find it strange Pepsi has dusted its contract with the former India captain and decided to put him in a 35-second advertisement again, saying lines that will touch a chord or two among his admirers or maybe even in those who have forgotten him.
Sourav hasn’t played for the Indian team since early this year and yet Pepsi, known for its smart ads, has chosen him at a time when its own stock is a little down in the wake of the pesticide controversy.
Recently, Videocon, the consumer electronics company, showed it was getting uncomfortable with its sponsorship of a cricket coaching camp run in the name of Sourav, though the dispute has been settled since, if temporarily.
So why is Pepsi doing it'
“We hope he comes back in the team,” said Vipul Prakash, PepsiCo India executive vice-president, marketing. Pepsi has a contract with Sourav till 2007.
Hope is what keeps Sourav going too.
Yesterday he said he doesn’t expect to be home in Calcutta over the Pujas next week since he will be playing the Challenger series (between three teams of India probables) in Chennai.
Beyond that lies the Champions Trophy, the mini World Cup.
“I know I have to score runs consistently, so I am looking forward to playing the Challenger if I get a chance,” he had said. “I want to use domestic tournaments for making a comeback to the national squad.”
Prakash told The Telegraph “the use of Sourav is completely as a loyal Indian cricket fan. It is, therefore, irrelevant whether he is or not a part of the team any more”.
The statement possibly needs to be put in the context of what Pepsi calls its Blue Billion campaign where the ads put the fan in the limelight. Even ads featuring film stars will show them as fans rather than celebrities.
The Sourav ad will be a part of this series Pepsi will roll out in the run-up to the Champions Trophy and the World Cup next year.
In the ad, Sourav expresses dismay at not being a part of the team. “Whatever happened, why it happened, I don’t know... I am practising to come back into the team.”
Grabbing the nostalgia bone, it harks back to his famous bare-chested shirt-waving act on the Lord’s balcony after a victory over England. Sourav says in the ad: “Who knows I (might) get another chance to swirl my shirt in the air.”
In the end, he reminds everyone of his on-field aggression. “In the field or out of it, I won’t sit quiet. I will cheer the team and so should you.”
It wasn’t cheering the team lacked at Kuala Lumpur’s Kinrara Oval today as most of the spectators were Indian, but just a few more runs. Remember those'