What's a brand worth? Ask TOI
The team that is owned by Mukesh and Nita Ambani, to all fans, is called Mumbai Indians. To the Times of India, though, it is, Team Mumbai. The Shah Rukh Khan-owned Kolkata Knight Riders is Team Kolkata, the Sahara owned Pune Warriors is Team Pune, and so on.
For all IPL fans, the teams are known by their names - Kolkata Knight Riders, Deccan Chargers, Mumbai Indians, and so on.
Some newspapers don't see it that way. Take the Times of India, for example. This morning, the Times of India consumes three pages (minus the advertising) in their IPL coverage. Obviously, the ToI sees the IPL as an event that their readers see as newsworthy.
Yet, the ToI views the names of the teams differently. The team that is owned by Mukesh and Nita Ambani, and featuring the likes of Sachin Tendulkar and Harbhajan Singh, to all fans, is called Mumbai Indians. To the Times of India, though, it is, inexplicably, Team Mumbai. The Shah Rukh Khan-owned Kolkata Knight Riders is Team Kolkata, the Sahara owned Pune Warriors is Team Pune, and so on.
It's obviously a conscious decision. Till last year, The Times of India's coverage included the actual team names - which is the obvious thing to do. A cursory glance at how the ToI dealt with the name issue last year tells it clearly.
Despite the new treatment that the teams seem to be getting, 'Team Chennai', for example, is so much more difficult to say, recall or write than Chennai Super Kings or CSK, names that all of us have become familiar with.
So one could forgive the writer and the sub-editor when this one, reporting the first match of IPL 5, slipped through. "It suddenly became unknown territory for Team Chennai at Chepauk and Mumbai made full use of it to get their IPL campaign off to a flying start. The eight-wicket loss was CSK's first in IPL at home since 15 April, 2010 and it had a lot to do with the grass on the relaid pitch. The ball was doing a bit and Team." The emphasis is Firstpost's, not The Times of India's.
Perhaps not naming the teams correctly (calling Mumbai Indians 'Team Mumbai' is patently incorrect. There is no team called 'Team Mumbai' playing the IPL) is a policy decision - but it's not a BCCI policy decision, it's only a Times of India policy decision.
How else can one explain the completely differing treatment by indiatimes.com? Indiatimes.com is the official broadcaster of IPL 5 - and they are contractually obliged to name the teams correctly - as also to prominently display all the partners of DLF IPL 5, including Coca Cola, Samsung, Maruti Suzuki, TVS, Clear, Parle G and Karbonn.
Here's a caption to a video from one of the earlier matches: "1st Inning Highlights from MATCH09 of IPL 2012 between Deccan Chargers and Mumbai Indians played on Apr-09-2012 at Dr. Y.S. Rajasekhara Reddy ACA-VDCA Cricket Stadium, Visakhapatnam." Again, the emphasis is Firstpost's.
Why does the newspaper take this line? Is it because the teams (all of them) have considerably cut down on their print spends on the IPL and the Times of India continues with their old policy of not naming 'brands' in news - unless the brands in question have a relationship with The Times of India?
The thinking is misplaced and overzealous. There is no way the newspaper can cover the DLF IPL - there, I used the sponsor's name- without accompanying photographs - and the photographs will, necessarily, carry team and sponsor logos.
For example, this morning's anchor photograph of Rohit Sharma forces the ToI to promote Mumbai Indians, Bridgestone, MRF and Hero through their logos. Another photograph promotes Ultratech Cement and Supertech, a third promotes Kingfisher and a fourth promotes adidas.
This is not good business sense. This is churlish.
What is surprising is that the BCCI does not explicitly state that any accredited media must carry the name of the sponsor, DLF, whenever reference is made to the IPL, and that no media can refer to the teams in any manner other than their actual names.
If this had been done, we wouldn't have to worry about whether the Times of India's decision to rechristen the teams is childish or churlish - or both.
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