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The Perils of 'Milestone Advertising'
The Perils of 'Milestone Advertising'
By: iMedia News Bureau

Advertising that is centered on sporting milestones, are full of perils. Are the risks worth it?

In the age of immense competition, the advertising world has become extremely opportunistic. Brands today not only want to use every opportunity, but are also busy preempting opportunities. And this business of preempting opportunities has led to a new type of advertising – Milestone Advertising. Sadly, it has often backfired causing heavy loses to brands.

The recent India and England series, created a lot of buzz both in the media and the masses of the nation. High on the No.1 test nation status and its recent one day world cup victory, the country was looking forward to not just India routing the English side, but also Sachin Tendulkar scoring a unique milestone of cricket – his 100th test century. Brands were extremely interested in leveraging on Sachin’s landmark since it is a unique achievement which will perhaps never be equaled in the future.


You thus had brands like Canon announcing, ‘Capture 99 moments; one more to go’ in anticipation of Tendulkar scoring a ton. And there were others like Coca Cola, Toshiba, Future Group etc. busy working out and readying their own advertising and marketing campaigns in the anticipation of this milestone. Coca Cola even had plans to roll out 6.5 million ‘Sachin’ cans as part of his 100th century celebrations.

Sadly for these brands, as we all are aware now, everything came to naught. The Indian team’s performance was not only disastrously dismal, even Tendulkar could not raise his game to score the much coveted century. All the money and efforts the brands put up in anticipation of this milestone went to naught.

Considering milestone advertising, this is something that keeps happening and is part of the perils of the same. During the world cup of 2007 advertisers were gung-ho about India’s chances. They at least expected India to reach the knock out stages. However, when India was actually knocked out of the tournament right at the group stages, the crores of rupees spent by advertisers went to naught as an entire disappointed nation switched itself off from anything to do with cricket.

Though everyone is aware that this uncertainty is an integral part of such milestone advertising, they are also aware that even if they want to, it is very difficult to factor in uncertainty. Advertising, in such a scenario, becomes a gamble. Yet, this gamble often pays up handsomely.

After the fiasco of 2007 world cup, advertisers were wary of repeating their mistake in the last world cup. However, when the Indian team exceeded every expectation and won the cup, there was a mad scramble to have a share in the buzz that was being created in the market. 

Sadly, that was not the case in the India-England series, as Coca Cola discovered to their dismay. Millions of Sachin commemorative cans have been ready for some time as the company hoped that they would get a chance to release it in the peak of the cold-drinks season that is March to August. The season’s off and even if Sachin scores the ton, the impact on the cola manufacturer would be muted.

There’s risk in milestone advertising. But it is a risk that brands are ready to take, aware as they are of the benefits in case things did go according to plan. God or bad, risky or safe, Milestone advertising is thus here to stay.