A Marketing Strategy Gone Wrong

Mon, Apr 2, '07

by VANEISA BAKSH

Vaneisa Baksh While this World World Cup is only into the Super 8 stage, a disturbing pattern has already emerged.

The stands and hotels are forlorn spectacles of a marketing strategy gone wrong. Spectators have just not turned up in anticipated numbers, and the dismal sight of all this emptiness makes the stomach sick over the losses for those who invested heavily in preparations for an avalanche that has barely compared with annual visitor arrivals for the tourist season

 


From warm-up matches where ticket prices were lowest, scant attendance portended something ominous, but not entirely unexpected. Those who attended screamed at rigid rules that disallowed almost everything but spectator, ticket and a pocketful of United States dollars. A ticket let you in, but would not facilitate re-entry, so once there you were at the mercy of shameless gouging that more than tripled prices.

On my bookshelf there are three or four unused tickets that will serve as my pretty World Cup souvenirs. As much as I love the game and want to support it, I couldn't subject myself to absurd restrictions that tried to masquerade under a security umbrella.

True ticket prices are not cheap; but let's be honest, nobody really expected to pay the normal range of prices for tickets to a World Cup match as they would otherwise. People were prepared for more expensive tickets, so even if they were rather over-priced, that was not the major reason for bland attendances. It came down to something far more profound, something that dragged a familiar chord of West Indian sensitivity that still grates on the nerves.

That something had to do with being alienated and excluded from their territories, their homeland in a sense, while preference was given to outsiders.

West Indians sensed early that this World Cup cared little for their company, their culture, and ignored the realities of life in this part of the world. So they are staying away from all the grand stadia their governments have spent so much of their money to prepare. It just hasn't been enough about West Indians; can you blame them?

The entire event has been designed to woo a foreign market – but even so it seems to have misunderstood what it is people want when they visit the West Indies. The unfortunate clash of the games with the normal high tourism season seems to have redirected the flow of non-cricket visitors; but for those who might have shelled out for a Caribbean cricket vacation, so much has been sucked out by International Cricket Council (ICC) restrictions.

It would be unfair to dismiss the impact of Pakistan and India leaving too soon, or the shadow cast by Bob Woolmer's murder. But something went awry long before those events occurred and slow ticket sales were the first evidence.

At this stage it is reasonable to say that the damage to ICC CWC 2007 was exacerbated by the inability of the hosts to insist on retaining the indigenous elements that have created the phenomenon known as West Indies cricket that the world would have
come to see.

One man said the ICC spent more time telling us what we couldn't do than anything else.

As it is, faced with empty stands, organisers relented on several of their restrictions and allowed a little bit of music, a few flags, some corn soup and branded tee-shirts – major marketing and security concessions here. But in truth, it was too little too late.

Sadly, when the post mortems are done, there will be no second chance.