Circa 2015. March 26th. The day of the first ICC Cricket World Cup 2015 semi final between co hosts New Zealand and strong hopefuls South Africa. Without a shadow of doubt, in retrospect, the match of the World Cup. No match before or after was even a remote patch on this absolute humdinger!
For the privileged 60 thousand odd spectators who watched it at the ground, it was a potboiler, end to end. For the not so privileged millions across the globe watching it on television the end well…could have better ended. They definitely got the wrong end of the stick. And I talk as a neutral, so one can imagine the plight of the audience following either the Kiwis or the incredible sporting ambassadors from the Rainbow Nation. Here is why:
The second last ball of the match. New Zealand needing 6 to win, 5 to tie. The price tag- a coveted place in the finals of the World Cup, a first for both teams- A tie was enough for the Kiwis to go through by virtue of their win quotient in the tournament. Just as Grant Elliot in all his serene composure deposited Dale Steyn into the stands to clinch a truly remarkable win for the Kiwis, millions of South African (and neutrals supporting them) hearts sank. Scenes of utter devastation plagued the faces of Mornie Morkel(a 6 foot 7 inch man sobbing his life away), AB De Villiers(couldn’t have happened after all that!), Du Flessis( stunned disbelief) and some of the other South African players. Just as the television audience was participating in this huge tidal wave of unadulterated human emotion that sport brought about in all it’s glorious uncertainty, and sought a place to fray hyper active goose pimples, the broadcaster decided to nip it in the bud and inserted a commercial when the audience was very clearly wanting to see the goings on in the field. I understand commercial compulsions with broadcast rights going into the billions, as do smart interruption marketing to ensure maximum eyeballs(hopefully efficacies) but this just did not work in my understanding. The feeling that I had at that time( and I believe it would be similar amongst millions of other viewers on that day) was one of irritation, frustration and pure angst. Completely contrary to the message that was being broadcast by the intruding brand ie of Good Life!
The jury would still be out on whether the brand, by design, with the broadcaster, had pre planned this, without of course knowing how the game will pan out but at that moment on that given day, the message just didn’t sink in. Neither the medium nor the messenger.
The purists say that batting is all about timing but then who is to say brand communication is not?