CSA 'must return to basics'

2012-03-14 14:47
Andy Rice (File)
Johannesburg - Cricket SA (CSA) needs to go back to basics to repair the damage done to its brand, marketing consultant Andy Rice said on Wednesday.

"The best definition of a brand is ‘a promise made and a promise kept’ and clearly the promise has not been kept by CSA," he said.

"To fix the situation they need to get back to the basic principles of running a transparent business and building a transparent brand."

Rice felt CSA needed to take whatever steps were necessary to regain its credibility.

"They made promises to the people who are working for them, as well as to everyone involved in or aligned with cricket. They need to understand the importance of that [promise], so the wider public can see that it is a promise kept and, if it means wholesale changes, then they need to swallow that medicine.

"If they gloss over it, then they must know it will come back to bite them. The most important thing about a brand is trust. A brand must do what it says."

Rice felt the negative publicity surrounding CSA would not directly affect the cricketers, particularly the Proteas, on the field.

"They’re highly trained, not only physically, but also psychologically, so they would not let something like this affect their performances."

Rice made a distinction between the CSA brand and the Proteas, who were a brand in their own right. He said the general public would be relatively indifferent towards CSA and its behaviour, unless the Proteas were directly affected.

"The fans are closely associated with the Proteas, but do not have a relationship with CSA," said Rice.

"If there was a problem at board level of [a manufacturing company], it would not outwardly affect the consumer who buys [their popular product] off the supermarket shelves.

"So it could only influence the sports fans’ relationship with the Proteas if CSA did something to tarnish the image of the Proteas. The distinction is quite important and it is also a much better scenario than if it was the other way around."

Rice said if the Proteas did something wrong on the field, like cheating, it would have a far greater impact on CSA.

While some companies had not renewed their event sponsorship contracts this season, none of them actually stated that it had anything to do with CSA’s tarnished image.

Some events took place without company branding, while others were rescued at the last moment, with sponsorships being announced a couple of days before commencement.

Rice said the distance between CSA and the Proteas was wide enough not to affect the image of a company associated with an event.

"Sponsoring cricket would only do damage to a brand if the public were to see the sponsorship as a way of helping CSA paper over the cracks," he said.

"No doubt, it has been a harder sell to find sponsors for cricket as some of the negative stuff rubs off, but there is a bit of a buffer between the two brands and the consumer would be able to disregard CSA and look at the Proteas as a separate brand."

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