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May 2, 2002 | 1020 IST
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Ad world's red card to World Cup

Shweta Rajpal Kohli, Jyotika J Thukral & Bipin Chandran

Even as soccer fans from Bogota to Kolkata are gearing up for the forthcoming World Cup in South Korea and Japan, the advertising industry in India has given it the thumbs-down.

"Soccer will not add to sales or advertising revenue," Suhel Seth of Equus Advertising said.

"Most advertisers have already committed their budgets to cricket and will not dilute their association with sports. We are not a soccer-crazy nation, and the market in India is small," he pointed out.

Rohit Ohri, vice-president of HTA, said: "We don't have a Sachin Tendulkar in soccer. So advertising prospects for the World Cup are limited."

According to a Doordarshan official, even with the World Cup due in May-end, there is no discernible momentum in the market.

"Since there is not much enthusiasm for football in India and the scope of advertising is also limited in a one-and-half hour match, we do not see much pick-up in advertising activity," he added.

Doordarshan is working with Ten Sports, which has the rights to market the Cup in India.

The country's major advertisers are saving the current financial year's budgets for the cricket World Cup, scheduled for January 2003.

"In Delhi and Mumbai, soccer viewership is low compared to cricket. With a limited advertising budget, we have decided to put our money on cricket," said the marketing head of an FMCG company.

So far, only a handful of football World Cup-related advertising campaigns have been launched. Pepsi was the first off the block with television commercials featuring England's David Beckham.

Arch rival Coca-Cola is planning to launch its campaign around May 15. Although it is not running campaigns on television, Gillette has announced two promotions, "Duracell Cup of Joy" and "Win Rs 5 crore", as a part of its strategy to encash on the World Cup.

Though advertising surrounding the World Cup will be limited, colour television makers hope to sell more in pockets where soccer has a substantial following.

During the last World Cup, sales of colour televisions went up by almost 20 per cent in West Bengal, Kerala and the North East.

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