Pad up, marketers: brands embrace leather on willow as attention turns to Cricket World Cup

Cricket mania, or, at least, slightly increased cricket enthusiasm, has hit New Zealand once again in the form of the 2015 ICC Cricket World Cup, which kicks off tomorrow when the Blackcaps play Sri Lanka. And, like many large sporting events, plenty of big big brands are hoping to profit from all the attention.

Fast food chain, regular sporting sponsor (it’s also involved with Super Rugby) and official Cricket World Cup ‘restaurant’ KFC has gotten into the cricket spirit through a promotional ad called ‘Sticky Wickets’. It features a family playing backyard cricket putting its sticky wickets on the fence, which come with KFC’s $30 combo. The chain has also altered its menu to incorporate a bit of cricket-fever with its ‘Cricket Feast’ and ‘Cricket World Cup Box Meals’. 

KFC has also released an ad with an umpire raising a drumstick to an appeal and then tucking in, but it hasn’t been put online. And an ad for the Ministry of Primary industries showing an umpire raising a finger to cricket fans bringing dodgy things into the country followed the same formula. 

Like many of the sponsors, KFC is using social media to give away tickets. 

Sky, which will air all 49 games live, will no doubt get plenty of exposure over the next month. And, as well as an outdoor campaign to draw attention to its coverage, it has also launched the ‘Howzapp’ competition, where, perhaps in homage to Tui’s rejigged catch-a-million campaign, entrants need to guess how the first wickets will be taken to win a share of $50,000.

Matua winery is also onboard this season as the official wine sponsor, which will see its wines poured exclusively at all ICC Cricket World Cup matches held in New Zealand. And it’s piling on the puns too. 

Matua chief winemaker Nikolai St George explains says it chose to be involved because “For New Zealand to co-host one of the world’s most watched sporting events is truly exciting, and for Matua to be a part of it offers an unprecedented opportunity to get some of New Zealand’s most awarded wines in front of a local and global audience”.

Hyundai, the official automotive partner, has also padded up and has been running the Beach Cricket campaign in the major centres as part of its Family Time project. 

It also took the trophy on a bit of a tour along with Chris Harris and it’s also giving a few tickets away through social media. 

New Zealand Post, which has just announced that 400 posties will be out of a job soon after cutting delivery days, has also jumped on the brand-wagon with ads promoting its Active Post cricket programme, an initiative which attempts to introduce cricket to 120,000 7-10 kids between the ages of five and 10. As it says on its website: “The ActivePost National Schools Programme supports cricket participation, coaching and umpiring through clubs, communities and schools. The ActivePost Kiwi Cricket program aims to develop basic cricket skills through small group activities and minor and modified games.”

ANZ, a broadcast sponsor with Sky and big supporter of the Blackcaps, released its ‘Dream Big’ campaign in the form of an inspirational ad, reminiscent of one of those films where under privileged sports teams believe in themselves and end up winning every game in the season (Remember the Titans, anyone?). 

The ad was made by NZ Cricket’s agency True, which travelled the nation and got cricket supporters to each read a line of a poem about, well, dreaming big and achieving. It has also been making cricket-based dreams come true after asking punters for submissions. 

Fujitsu also released a cricket-themed ad starring, you guessed it, Stephen Fleming, but his mate, fellow former cricket giant Nathan Astle has been added to the bill this time.

The duo appear in nine 15-second clips where they joke with each other as they settle down on a comfortable looking sofa in front of the TV for the upcoming run of one-day cricket matches.

The commercials will be shown in New Zealand during all 74 upcoming ICC Cricket World Cup matches on Sky between February 14 and March 29. TVNZ, TV3, Prime and Choice will also run the ads.

Elsewhere, the caravan-dwelling Alternative Commentary Collective (The ACC) has also proven popular in the lead-up to the tournament and their more eccentric take on ball-by-ball commentating can be heard via stream on iheartradio.co.nz and theacc.com.

Commentary team member Jeremy Wells says he’s baffled by the attention the ACC has received, having racked up 280,296 streams during the warm-up matches between New Zealand and Sri Lanka/Pakistan alone, making it the most popular online cricket commentary for Kiwis.

“It’s quite surprising because we’re just seven guys who enjoy hanging out in a van talking rubbish, so it’s good to have more than just our mates listening. We’ve had heaps of people tell us they are listening in their lounges, in their cars and at work – obviously with their headphones on. Families have told us they have never felt so close and yet said so little. The ACC is creating a beautiful thing.”

Managing director of NZME Radio Dean Buchanan says The ACC is attracting listeners who wouldn’t necessarily tune in and fans looking for a more obtuse, hard case approach to the game.

“Between Radio Sport and The ACC there were a total of 548,854 streams. That’s an average of close to 61,000 streams per game tuning in via the internet which is just another sign that we’ve got some great options depending upon what listeners are after.”

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