A cynic would term Nike’s move to change India’s official cricket kit a cruel marketing move – as it invalidates crores worth of older merchandise already sold to loyal fans.
But, as a beacon of positivism in a sea of skeptics WTT applauds the move, especially since it rids us of the anemic, uninspiring, sky blue embarrassment we’ve had to live with all these years.
It’s not as if kit makers are the only ones playing the game of planned redundancy – upgrades and newer models are a key part of the business plan of a healthy consumer society. Repeat purchasers and long-term customers are a cornerstone behind the rationale for branding. Indeed, even a company as well-loved as Apple is rumoured to be in the habit of designing its products to wear out – either through battery or circuit board degeneration or aesthetic redundancy.
Some dope on the changes to the kit:
Sanjay Gangopadhyay, head of marketing, Nike claims that the outfit “took 18 months in the making,” adding that Nike believed the radical change to a darker shade of blue was needed because “there’s a boldness and aggression to this much younger team.” He avers that, although “blue is ingrained in the Indian psyche when it comes to sport… when we did research into sports teams around the world, we kept coming up on red and orange as the colours that represented boldness.” So the orange, or saffron in the new outfit “heightens the streak of boldness” – which would explain the fondness our brazen fascist organizations display for the colour.
Further input from the colour experts at about.com:
Blue and orange are complementary colours (a complementary colour of a primary colour – such as blue – is produced by mixing the other two primary colours). Blue is a cool color while orange is a warm color. When placed next to each other, complementary colors make each other appear brighter, more intense. To avoid unpleasant vibrations, you should avoid mixing these in equal amounts. You can either enliven your dark blue with a splash of orange or calm our orange with a dash of blue.
All this conventional wisdom is confounded by the appearance of ‘Mello’, the orange, raccoon-like mascot of the 2007 World Cup – who is supposed to embody the West Indian attitude, which one would imagine is far removed from the strident passion Nike, or indeed Bal Thackeray had in mind.
One thing Nike’s Gangopadhyay fails to mention is that the new outfit is almost identical to the one designed for the 1992 World Cup, the first to feature coloured clothing – AND WE ALL KNOW HOW THAT WENT – we ended up winning just 2 of 8 matches and were knocked out in the preliminary stages. On a positive note, we did beat Pakistan in the tournament – although they went on to win the cup.
Superstitious fans are already baying for Nike’s blood – although one could argue that the record-breaking $40 million paid for the rights to outfit our team (and fill BCCI’s coffers) for 5 years allows Nike to dress us in tar and feathers if they’d so choose. The fans point out that Nike also changed our jersey just before the World Cup in 2007 – AND WE ALL KNOW HOW THAT WENT – we were knocked out by Bangladesh and could only manage one (albeit record-breaking) win in a match against Bermuda, the highlight of which had to be a diving catch pulled off by one Dwayne Leverock, a 280lbs part-time cricketer, whose day job is driving a prison truck.
Given the fact that our team is currently on a roll, it isn’t surprising that Indiancricketfans have a lot of disparaging things to say about the new costume. This could merely be a case of the old rejecting the new – a common pathology in human beings. Also, criticism is generally so much easier (did I mention that WTT is a largely positive site) and the internet’s law of numbers builds a publishing bias as to the actual nature of public opinion. Take a look at our premier opinion site (www.mouthshut.com) or read Khalid Mohammed’s inane film reviews and you’ll get a flavour for the low standard of critiquing that exists here. Opinions on indiancricketfans.com include one from a genius who says that we now stand to lose our famous sobriquet – ‘the Men In Blue’!
Early poll figures from the site reveal a bias against the new colours:
Now, given the fact that we lost the first game we played in our new threads – to the New Zealand Black Caps (the colour black signifies pride in New Zealand), Nike’s detractors will gain some ammunition – until our team starts winning again. It is no secret that we have the most flimsy fair weather fans across all of the sporting world. Pundits will no doubt be enrolled to hold forth on the significance of the colour change. And, if nothing else, at least the new outfit gives us something on which we can blame any change in form.
And there is more drama to come. When Nike last revealed a new ‘official’ outfit – before said World Cup 2007 – it fell afoul of the arcane sponsorship and branding regulations which puzzle marketing managers looking to cash in on India’s cricket mania. While Nike was able to use the players it had under individual contract to model and launch the new team uniform, it immediately clarified that they could not use this apparel for any ICC sponsored event – including the World Cup.
It turns out that the logos shown were not those approved by the ICC for their tournament. This meant that the Sahara logo, which was on the front of the shirt (rights priced at $60m), would go to the leading arm, and the Nike logo, which was on the right side of the chest, would go to the non-leading arm. Not sure if they switched the ”leading’ side in the case of left-handers. The logo of the BCCI, which was on the left side of the chest, would stay right where it was, such is the power of India’s governing body.
Nike tried to save face by announcing that, “in all other respects – other than logo and branding – the fabric used, the innovations that are in place… are identical to the kit that was launched.”
Whether there is anything official about the new kit or not, the question facing Nike is: Will Indian fans buy it? We are notorious recyclers – so you might see plenty of the outfits used in 1992 make a return. On the other hand, we are also shameless supporters of the counterfeit trade and I have yet to take a trip to Colaba to confirm if the new outfits have arrived at the roadside stalls (Rs 2295 for the genuine article vs Rs 100 odd for the fake really is no comparison). The real audience for Nike is the overseas fan base – and they still have the option to buy the old kit from Nike’s official online store if they want to hedge their bets.