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For corporate Sri Lanka:

Seven lessons from ‘IPL’

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[ The power of brands]

* The Indian Premier League (IPL) within two years of business is valued at $311 million

* Sri Lanka’s power brand Dialog after 10 years of business is valued at $124 million

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The BCCI has estimated that IPL will bring in approximately $1.6 billion revenue in the next five to ten years

The world of marketing has intrigued me not because I have spent most my life in this profession and managed powerful brands like Dettol but, why some brands become winners within a short period of time whilst others struggle and then fade away.

One brand that has become a winner in the recent past is IPL. Some call it Pyjama cricket but to me, it’s a brand that has raised above the rest and has been valued at over $2 billion by the UK based valuation consultancy Brand Finance whilst IPL as a brand is valued at over a $311 million dollars.

The BCCI has estimated that IPL will bring in approximately $1.6 billion revenue in the next five to ten years which gives us an idea of the consumer power behind this brand. Let me capture some of the lessons for corporate Sri Lanka.

Lesson 1 - Cutting edge decisions

The concept of selling cricket stars for big money can be termed shrewd but to my mind it was the cutting edge decision that changed the nature of the game.

In 2007 at the inception there was a lot of money but no one knew whether this business of IPL will catch the world.

The one man who saw the future was Lalith Modi who was the Chief Commissioner of this brand. Today the business is worth $2 billion dollars. In 2008 for instance the Bangladesh seamer Musrafe Murtaza who commanded a base price of just $50,000 at the auction ultimately traded off at a commanding $600,000 which gives us an indication of the consumer power behind him.

This tag alone catapults the value of the IPL brand to what it is today. If I am to draw a parallel in Sri Lanka it is Mobitel who has shown us in cutting edge decisions. With the mounting losses in the post paid segment the company took a decision to focus on the public sector which were very credit worthy and today it’s a power brand which has some of the highest ratings on Consumer Relevancy’ and Consumer Advantage against the main competitor. These are the decisions that can change the rules of the game.

Lesson 2 - Move out of the safety net

Apparently the founder of the Modi empire Gujmal Modi, in 1932 had started the company with only Rs 400 in his pocket and had to let go of the security of his parents and home.

Today the company is within the largest conglomerates in India with joint ventures with some of the top company’s like Philip Morris, Estee Lauder, Revlon, Rank Xerox and Walt Disney to name a few.

A parallel in Sri Lanka is Orange Eclectricals who had to take a new name from Clipsal within 48 hours due to an issue that arisen internally. It was a very bold decision but today “Orange” is one of the strongest brand names in Sri Lanka. It moved out of the safety net and aggressive moved to take the high ground in the bulb business of the country.

Lesson 3 - Work closely with the Govt

When the IPL season 2 ran into tough terrain due to the Indian Government wanting to give priority to election from a security allocation perspective Lalith Modi very clearly made it known to the world that he will co-operate and not get into a ‘turf war’ even though billions of rupees was at stake.

This came from the upbringing from one of his mentors Sri Kumar Modi who personally used to work closely with the Government of India and local state that resulted in the company having the space to venture out to industries like Silk Mills, Nylon and Polyester threading, tyre and tube manufacturing, industrial leather to name a few that boarders on political power.

The relevance to Sri Lanka is that organizations cannot work in isolation.

It has to be closely threaded to the Government policy. This might require the organizations of today to recruit a person who has a new skill set.

If corporate Sri Lanka does not do that the growth can be stunted.

Lesson 4 - Drive one idea hard

When Lalith Modi decided to commercialize the 20/20 cricket by launching the IPL brand he believed that nothing was as powerful as an idea that the time had come.

He passionately drove the idea when a few actually believed it. Today this is a $311 million brand. I yet remember the day that it was announced that IPL could not be staged in India due to the Indian Election Lalith Modi took the high ground and said “I am going to export this product to another market”. The event that was staged in South Africa was a masterpiece.

It was an Indian-African mix that attracted the President of South Africa to be the Chief Guest at the final which tells us how hard this 1 single idea was driven to.

I feel the implication to corporate Sri Lanka is that things will never be perfect but what is required is to grab the opportunities in the market place as it emerges.

Munchee did this very well by focusing on the ‘Trully Sri Lankan Brand” proposition and overcame the melamine issue as well as the attack from the giant Indian brand Britania to maintain its status quo as the most powerful Sri Lankan brand in the country which to my mind is single minded focus with all the issues the market place.

To be continued

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