Posted: 28 May 2008 at 7:57am | IP Logged
After A Disastrous Campaign, KKR Need To Leave A Lasting Afterglow
The brand grew even though they floundered on the field. It's often been a queer case of two journeys in opposite directions for the Knight Riders
Arup Chatterjee | TNN
All that's left now are debris of a devastated dream and a dichotomy. It's most amazing that as the Kolkata Knight Riders go into what they have reduced to a meaningless joust on Sunday, the stamp of 'failure' firmly on their backs, Brand KKR should still be glowing among the brightest in the Indian Premier League on many other fronts. When Sourav Ganguly and his men finally fell, the rain in Delhi dousing the last embers of hope amongst the ruins, the collective sigh of disappointment did not rise only in Kolkata but from many more corners of the country.
The fall of a favourite! But, then, how could a stuttering, bungling bunch of men achieve this? They didn't, not this time at least; they are probably just fortunate to be with the right man. If the Knight Riders have managed to carry the glow despite their roughshod ride through this inaugural edition of the IPL, it's their charismatic and ever-energetic team owner who must get most of the credit.
Shah Rukh Khan, with his unabashed enthusiasm on the terraces and graciousness in both victory and defeat, has won the hearts of not just the 'locals' but fans across the country.
But, then, SRK's irrepressible appeal is not the only thing that has brightened the brand, his brain too has had a lot to do with it.
Sharp and articulate, SRK would have passed off as the CEO of some top company. He is certainly functioning like one. The IPL, with its clever mix of cricket and entertainment, has widened the fan base to beyond traditional core groups and left it more malleable to the mega-buck marketing. The Bollywood Badshah has been the first off the blocks when it came to maximizing participation of the corporate world in his franchise, tying up with some of the best even as he ensured that each of them enhanced Brand KKR.
Whether it is a leading gaming portal that will allow millions to play with the Knights or a mobile handset maker that exhorting kids to be a Knight, KKR is way ahead of the other teams when it comes to this attempt at bonding and creation of a fan base that will spill far beyond the boundaries of the city or the region where it was raised.
The Knights have been left with a bigger-than-life image. It's another thing that they have done little to live up to it.
The terrific launch to their campaign in Bangalore more than a month ago is surely an aberration now as Ganguly and most of his men took time to catch
the tenor and preferred tendencies in the T20 game, and just when everyone thought the Knights were getting a hang of it, they lost the script again.
SRK and the Knights have begun a long journey together; in its first year, it has often looked two journeys in opposite directions. As the Knights take on Team Mohali in Sunday's inconsequential match at the Eden Gardens, the fate of the two teams a study in contrast, Ganguly & Co. will perhaps find this as reason to fight. They owe it to their brand as 'Knights In Shining Armour' to make one last and lasting statement.
It's not that the Knights don't have the men to do the job, but they have repeatedly squandered it in a profusion of poor planning and shot-selections. Preity Zinta is likely to be in town to cheer her team. It's just as well. Shah Rukh will not be around but, thanks to his floundering Knights, Sunday will also see a metaphoric handing over of a baton. If SRK was the most visible among the franchisee-owners with his enthusiastic support from the terraces, the pretty and popular actress was not doing too badly with the dimpled smile and Jaadu Ki Jhhappi. The stage is all hers now as the IPL enters its business end. Far away in the West Indies, Ricky Ponting is running into form, too late for the Knights you might say, but it's time already for Ganguly and his men to wrench themselves away from thoughts of what might have been and, instead, focus on the future.
But, then, it's never a bad thing to sign off from a bad run with a big promise, and the Knights need to do something to leave a more lasting afterglow.
Especially at a time when the 'Mecca of Indian football' is all ready to shift from 'King Khan' to 'King Kahn'!