The PSL draft has just been completed and the teams have their squads ready. Following on my previous article on PSL’s chances of commercial success, I have to say, things look bright. From a commercial angle, PSL has had a pretty decent start. Here is a personal assessment of how the marketing side of PSL has fared thus far:
1) The team names: (7/10)
When PSL was announced the names of the teams were run of the mill and lacked any thinking. The names have been revised to more original and creative ones. Peshawar Zalmi is as good a name as it can get in the local context. Anyone who has attended cricket matches in the UAE will vouch for the number of Pathans in the stadium. Peshawar Zalmi is a name the entire Pushto speaking population will relate to.
Federal Vipers has been wisely renamed Islamabad United, making the name easier on the ears, eyes, and brings it closer to the most popular football team in Pakistan, Manchester United. United has much higher marketability than Vipers.
Lahore Qalandars is another name that fits the local context and is any day better than “Lahore Warriors”. We have way too many warrior teams in the world, but is there a team called Qalandars? The standout point about these names is they have not been used by any IPL team.
The logos: (6/10)
Here again, Peshawar Zalmi is a clear winner. My own Pathan bias aside, the turban representing three stumps is a work of genius. Lahore Qalandars is my second favourite.
Twirling dervishes might be less of a Lahori symbol than a bhangrra and a dhol, but it suits the Qalandar part of it. Once again, three stumps have been used along with a white cricket ball. The other three logos unfortunately do not stand out and have settled for the tried and tested lion faces without much creativity. It would have been great to see local monuments, such as the Khyber Pass or Minar-e-Pakistan used as part of the logos.
The Draft: (9/10)
Oh boy, that was superb. Going for another auction similar to the other leagues would have been very me-too. Drafts may be a big phenomenon in US based sports, but in cricket they are virgin territory and T20 leagues have so far relied on auctions.
Possibly Shoaib Naveed (project manager of PSL along with PCB) brought the idea based on his previous stint at the NFL. Bringing the concept of a draft to cricket was unique and brilliantly done. It was the first time for the teams and their management and some of them might have been unable to come to grips with it, however, in the coming seasons it can be really strategic and tense.
The songs and music (3/10)
The official song is the weak link in the campaign. Cliché music and lyrics and still no official video means audiences will not have the song on their minds when the tournament starts. The song itself missed the punch of previous songs by Strings or “De Ghuma Ke”. There is still a possibility that the teams will come up with their own songs and hopefully if they do, they will be better than the PSL song. I hope this is in pipeline.
The Cricket side of PSL (6/10)
Nothing else will sell as much as the quality of games played. There are some big names in the drafted teams, such as KP, Gayle, Sangakkara and Shane Watson, while Dean Jones and Micky Arthur have been lined up as coaches. There are still no Indian players and there will probably never be. (Indian players, especially their batsmen have strong T20 following.) On top of this, there are no South African players, so we will not be able to see AB De Villiers in action along with Steyn and Amla. The absence of the Kiwis means that neitherBrandon McCullum or Tim Southee will be seen. Therefore the saving grace will have to be exciting games, pitches and high production values of the broadcast.
On the whole, PSL has had a very good start. Let’s say, so far two thirds of the marketing has been covered well. There are some rough edges here and there that need refining. Considering this is the first season and the learning curve will be steep, one hope to see stronger marketing of PSL by PCB. For the moment, it’s time to prepare for the games.