Needed urgently brand reputation fixers

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Needed urgently brand reputation fixers

  1. 1. Needed Urgently: Brand Reputation Fixers Simone Elkeles in her book, Perfect Chemistry asked, What's the use of having a reputation if you can't ruin it every now and then?” One of the strongest believers of this statement seem to be the people leading the largest, most popular sports platforms in the country. The recent spot fixing scandal is a testimony to IPL’s wholehearted belief in this. It has resulted in grave damage not only to IPL’s brand repute but also that of Indian cricket. While it’s easy to dismiss this scandal as yet another controversy that IPL has famously come to be associated with, I think it’s about time we took a pause. For a sport that has millions of fans and countless amount of passion, love, zeal and energy invested in it, it’s a betrayal of the highest order. It started with the sacking of Lalit Modi due to misappropriation of funds, then came the resignation of Shashi Tharoor for his alleged involvement in the Kochi franchise bid and now this. Take another case of reputation mismanagement. The Commonwealth Games. Remember how ill prepared the organizing committee was in the run up to the event? How pathetic was the condition of the Olympics Village when the global federation came to review progress? And how inflated were the contracts that took place under the leadership of the then Chairman, Mr. Suresh Kalmadi? IPL and Commonwealth Games – 2 massive brands that put India in the global spotlight. 2 mega opportunities to showcase India’s sports management skills to the world. Look what we did to the former and look what are we are doing to the latter. IIPL infact is one brand that has grabbed the world’s attention. It’s an opportunity that many international cricketers want to latch onto and a business model that companies and sports associations around the world wish to emulate. And then when incidents like spot fixing happen, they question the very core of the game, and cause severe dent to brand image. A recent study by Brand Finance Plc has estimated that IPL’s long-term brand value has eroded by $1billion since 2008, due to such scams and the resulting descent in trust. And this doesn’t include the erosion of brand trust among the true followers of the game. That explains why so many viewers watching the finals were wondering all through, whether that match too was fixed.
  2. 2. Perhaps IPL and BCCI could take lessons from brands who have also suffered crises that resulted in large-scale threats to their image. Do you recall the fiasco at one of the American outlets of a famous international pizza delivery brand? Two employees uploaded a sick prank video of them contaminating food with human mucus, putting cheese up their nose and violating other health code standards. The video went viral and resulted in more than a million disgusted viewers and massive danger to a brand built over decades. The company’s reaction to the crisis has 2 key lessons. First, gracefully acknowledge that you did wrong. The brand didn’t go in denial mode but publicly admitted that what had happened was terrible. Second, speed of response is key. In today’s times when social media ensures that bad news travels fast and achieves monstrous proportions, you can’t afford to wait. The company quickly issued an apology on its website and then posted a more elaborate video on YouTube from its President. Another lesson to pick up is from a professional networking site that got hacked last year. This resulted in several passwords getting compromised. The company responded not only by apologizing but also by continuously informing customers of the measures being taken to correct the problem via its twitter and blog pages. That’s lesson three. Keep the channels of communication open, continuously reassure your customers of the corrective steps being taken. A final example is from Volkswagen. Several years ago, one of their car brands had to be recalled in massive numbers owing to a fault in the machinery. This had a severe impact on the brand’s image and sales. The brand decided to do something it or perhaps any other brand had never done before. It’s next campaign began with a teaser that showed consumers actually running away from VW salespeople. This bold depiction of truth was then followed by communicating how the cars were now fault-free and completely safe. The lesson: Big disasters call for bold actions to be taken. Now, let’s look at the state of the custodians of Indian cricket. Be it BCCI or IPL, did they gracefully acknowledge the wrongdoing? Did they or are they even now responding speedily? With the Chairman having spent most of his time unsuccessfully fighting to keep his position, do we have any hope of quick resolution on the matter? Instead of keeping communication channels open or seeing innovative corrective actions being thought through, all we see is lack of transparency. It would help if the cricket bodies learnt from some of these brands who managed to restore faith after disaster struck. Because it is imperative to earn back the trust . They owe to all innocent cricketers who’s been shamed by virtue of being a part of cricket. They owe it to every Indian who has ever bunked a class/office or prayed for his /her team to win. +++

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