Sunday, February 08, 2009

Sangakkara - Hutch or Airtel?

Sangakkara - Hutch or Airtel?

By Hilal - Posted on 30 January 2009

I stumbled on a story in the Island publication the other day titled:

'I changed from cricket to marketing. That's a very easy way out – A mock hero' .

Revata S. Silva puts a nonsensical spin to Kumar Sangakkara switching over as brand ambassador of Hutch to Airtel.

"Ten days ago, when Sangakkara appeared in a TV advertisement promoting a new mobile phone service saying "I changed to … (the new mobile phone service name). This is a very easy plan." The rational viewers would have felt sick of the man. It was only the other day that the posh Kandyan sportsman, Sri Lanka's probable future captain, had promoted another mobile phone service in a series of ads. Money talks. The habit of selling knows no ethics," writes Revata.  I consider my self to be a 'rational viewer'? How come I did not 'feel sick in the stomach'? I wonder what code of ethics were broken when a sportsman chose to take on a new commercial endorsement?

Revata wasn't done there,  "From a corporate angle too, Sangakkara has created enemies by betraying ethically a customer base by stepping into the shoes of a rival party overnight.".

Somehow I don't think the author of the story knows enough of the situation to write such an insulting piece. Not only is he oblivious to fact, he does not give enough credit to the consumer. Somehow in his own warped view of reality he seems to forget that the consumer already knows the endorsement is of commercial nature. How many of us signed up to Hutch because Sanga said so? Now how many switched over form Hutch to Airtel because Sanga said so? When you paint the public as impressionable kids then the above argument may hold some ground. I wonder how Kumar Sangakkara managed to 'betray ethically'  Hutch's customer base.

The realities are that after a 3 year contract with Hutch, it was Hutch who decided not to pursue an extension of the contract. It was not a case of Sangakkara switching sides overnight. Revata may have seen Hutch running ads of late, the contract however expired in august of 2008. Five months had passed prior to the signing of the new endorsement.

In a statement today to Island Cricket this is what Sanga had to say.

"Between July 2005 and August 2008 I had a contract with Hutch only. I enjoyed my three years working with Hutch and the relationship was mutually beneficial. When the contract expired, in August of last year, Hutch informed me that they would not be renewing the contract as they sought a fresh marketing direction. We parted on good terms and I wish them all the best for the future." - Kumar Sangakkara.

There is nothing unethical about making money through hard work and years of dedication. An International sportsman or athlete must perform consistently for years before even being considered for a commercial endorsement by a large corporate entity. It is only just that after many a sacrifice the player gets to benefit from the fame and reputation that he strove to achieve.

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