Week 34 (10 - 16 May 2014)
When there is a FIFA World Cup on the immediate horizon, other sports events need to come up with something pretty special to generate the groundswell of interest required to sell tickets and entice TV audiences to watch their show.
Tonight (Friday 16 May), the NatWest T20 Blast starts with 11 matches of short-form cricket over the next three days across England and Wales. The series will run throughout the summer and will see 18 counties compete in 133 matches altogether, concluding with a knock-out phase and a final on 23 August.
It is a massive undertaking, and the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) has used its best marketing minds to promote it. The result is an engaging multi-platform social media and traditional media campaign involving initiatives such as a fantasy cricket competition and giving fans the final say on what music should be played at matches.
However, the jewel in the crown is a seemingly low budget, one-minute video spot with no dialogue and very few special effects. Instead, it features cricketers from the 18 counties in the competition creating their own orchestra of cricket sounds (with 76-time Test match England veteran, Marcus Trescothick, playing DJ). The end result is a simple melodic video that can appeal to anyone, regardless of their knowledge of cricket.
The universality of the video – which has received 101, 000 views on YouTube since being posted last Friday, far outstripping the normal popularity of promotional cricket videos – matches the ECB's aims for T20 cricket. That is, to appeal to as wide an audience as possible. T20 cricket is a hyped-up version of more traditional cricket with matches lasting approximately three hours, as opposed to five days in Test cricket. The shortened version crams the most exciting parts of the game: scoring runs and taking wickets, into one small package.
Whether the ECB's promotional techniques will deliver sell-out crowds throughout the summer is yet to be seen. But the T20 Blast has a high chance of maintaining a strong fan following, either watching on TV or engaging online, throughout the summer, thanks to the ECB's excellent promotional work.