Since 2008, the vast majority of people with Indian origins look forward to the month of April. That includes the huge non-resident population across the globe, and especially in the US and the UK. The event? The DLF Indian Premier League, which has more or less revolutionised the way cricket is played (and watched) by millions of people.
The final game of the 2010 IPL was last Sunday. I’m not a massive cricket fan myself, but being surrounded by people who are, I’m pretty familiar with it now.
There’s a LOT of money being poured into it. To give you an idea (if you’re not familiar with the IPL as such), here’s what Wikipedia says:
In 2010, IPL became the first sporting event ever to be broadcast live on the popular video sharing website YouTube. It’s brand value was estimated to be around $4.13 billion (over Rs 18,000 crore) the same year. According to global sports salaries review, IPL is the second highest-paid league, based on first-team salaries on a pro rata basis, second only to the NBA. It is estimated that the average salary of an IPL player over a year would be £2.5 million.
OK, got that?
Now, going on to what I wanted to say, the key sponsors have more or less changed the way things like a sixer, a catch or a wicket are referred to by people in India, at least during the IPL. Terms like these are standard:
Technically it’s just the commentators at the moment. When a ball is caught mid-air, the commentator actually says ‘And that’s a Karbonn Kamaal catch!’ (it’s probably a legal requirement), but I’m sure it’ll become common amongst the public as time goes by. Brands are certainly leveraging the mass appeal of the event - I hadn’t even heard of Karbonn Mobiles or Maxx Mobiles before. (DLF is a huge infrastructure company and Citi = Citibank, in case you were wondering).
I wonder if this kind of heavy-handed ‘say our brand name when this action happens during the game or else’ behaviour will slowly change the way people refer to basic things like sixes and fours in India. A few years down the line, young kids will grow up thinking ‘DLF Maximum’ is an actual prefix to ‘six’.
I tried to think of other examples of brands altering languages in this way, not just as a title sponsor which we’re used to – and I hit a wall. Can you think of anything?