A War Between Pakistan and India Will Erupt Tomorrow

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This year's Super Bowl battle between Pittsburgh and Green Bay set a new record in terms of domestic viewership -- 111 million to be exact. Tomorrow, a semifinal matchup in the relatively unknown World Cup of Cricket will put that record-breaking number to absolute shame.

Ladies and gentlemen, it may be NCAA tournament time in the U.S., but the match to watch right now is between two talented national teams from two rival nuclear powers -- India and Pakistan. This is an event of such large athletic, commercial, and even geopolitical significance that Fools everywhere should take notice.

Just a drop in the bucket
To offer some perspective, the expected tune-in tomorrow (on the Indian subcontinent alone) is expected to be well over 600 million. That stands in comparison to the roughly 700 million that purportedly watched the final of the World Cup last summer. Across the globe, it wouldn't be far-fetched at all to imagine some 15%-20% of the Earth's total population tuning in.

Cricket what?
Why should Americans take notice? Perhaps it's because cricket is rumored to be the most heavily wagered upon sport in the world. Perhaps it's because cricket is the world's second most popular sport and is the only sport of significance in the soon-to-be-most-populated country in the world. Or perhaps it's because there is a massive amount of spending going into this event on part of large, multinational corporations.

These companies include Nike (NYSE: NKE  ) , PepsiCo (NYSE: PEP  ) , Coca-Cola (NYSE: KO  ) , New York Life, Nokia (NYSE: NOK  ) , Philips (NYSE: PHG  ) , Walt Disney's (NYSE: DIS  ) ESPN, Sony (NYSE: SNE  ) and many more. These Western companies are throwing an incredible amount of money and resources toward an advertising blitz that will reach well beyond India into many corners of the former British Empire in places such as Nigeria, Kenya, South Africa, the Caribbean, and Australia.

Something to consider
In my estimation, more than 20% of all television ads in India in recent days have been dedicated to the sport. No American sporting event has ever commanded that much attention on either a relative or absolute basis -- with the possible exception of the Russia/USA hockey match in 1980.

This is an advertising bonanza that constitutes a very important commercial event, but more so because it specifically targets the world's greatest source of future economic growth: the emerging market consumer.

An epic battle
Much of the drama surrounding the match is owed to the fact that both teams are really good and that both India and Pakistan are consummate rivals who regularly find themselves on the brink of war. These countries and their citizens tend to hate one another, and having their cricket teams duke it out on a grassy pitch is perhaps the most civilized way for two nuclear-armed countries to let off some steam. Naturally, this scenario has also helped spur an entire region of about 1.5 billion people to coalesce around their respective teams in a genuinely endearing way .

Bring on the chaos
Mumbai, the fifth largest city in the world and my home for the time being, is likely to shut down tomorrow. Let's not mention the fact that the match itself is actually hosted several hundred miles away. The entire country is widely expected to be off work and glued to the television.

Regardless of the outcome, most folks here are expecting chaos to hit the streets immediately following the match. Yes, it will be like a Detroit Red Wings Stanley Cup victory multiplied by about a gazillion.

The Foolish bottom line
The last time I was in a city that won anything of note, I was in D.C. when the Redskins won the '92 Super Bowl. As far as I could tell, the city and its citizens barely blinked. Tomorrow, I expect to see something big.

I encourage Fools to take note of this fairly incredible event -- both athletically and commercially. Regardless of how you might feel about cricket (if anything at all), tomorrow is a very big deal. Stay tuned.

Fool Nick Kapur is in India and is loving the passion. He owns shares of Nike, Pepsi, and Walt Disney. You can follow more about his India adventures right here on his Twitter feed. Coca-Cola is a Motley Fool Inside Value recommendation. Walt Disney and Nike are Motley Fool Stock Advisor picks. Coca-Cola and PepsiCo are Motley Fool Income Investor selections. Motley Fool Options has recommended a diagonal call position on PepsiCo. The Fool owns shares of Coca-Cola and PepsiCo. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

Read/Post Comments (11) | Recommend This Article (34)

Comments from our Foolish Readers

Help us keep this a respectfully Foolish area! This is a place for our readers to discuss, debate, and learn more about the Foolish investing topic you read about above. Help us keep it clean and safe. If you believe a comment is abusive or otherwise violates our Fool's Rules, please report it via the Report this Comment Report this Comment icon found on every comment.

  • Report this Comment On March 29, 2011, at 12:09 PM, lemoneater wrote:

    I wonder if Tata Motors will take advantage of this advertising opportunity.

  • Report this Comment On March 29, 2011, at 12:38 PM, pondee619 wrote:

    Has anyone done a study to establish if there is a positive correlation between spending money on sports advertising and sales of goods? Do sports fans on the subcontinent watch the ads, or do they go to the head, get a beer, make a sandwich, etc. like Americans?

    "Regardless of the outcome, most folks here are expecting chaos to hit the streets immediately following the match." How will this effect my holdings in PEP, etc.?

    " this scenario has also helped spur an entire region of about 1.5 billion people to coalesce around their respective teams " Like none of these 1.5 billion have never heard of Coke, before.

    "No American sporting event has ever commanded that much attention on either a relative or absolute basis -- with the possible exception of the Russia/USA hockey match in 1980." Who were the sponsors of that game? Were their sales positivily impacted by sponsoring this game? The game garnered positive attention after it was played. there was no live broadcast in the US of that game.

    OK. Billions of people are going to ignore the ads of several mulitinational corporations, whose products are already well known. Ads which will intrude upon the sport being watched. Big Whoop!

  • Report this Comment On March 29, 2011, at 12:55 PM, monamamu wrote:

    Sadly, there may be a few suicides among the fans from whichever country that loses. India and Pakistan cricket matches are indeed monumental events to watch.

  • Report this Comment On March 29, 2011, at 1:41 PM, Hotpicks101 wrote:

    I'm in Pakistan right now finishing up med school. All I can say is tomorrow is going to be an event of epic proportions and I can't contain my excitement any longer. The crazy thing is that pretty much EVERYONE is going to watch this game. Meaning people who don't even like cricket or have watched only a few games in their life are even getting excited. As far as from an investment point of view, not really sure how much the companies will benefit, but considering the amount and demographic of the people expected to watch this game I can't imagine it not influencing sales or at the very least put a positive light on the companies even if it may be at a subconscious level.

    GO PAKISTAN! haha

  • Report this Comment On March 29, 2011, at 2:45 PM, aanilkapur wrote:

    Nick: Your stay in India has really helped you understand the biggest sports event in the world. It is going to be an exciting game. If India bowls and fields well tomorrow, India will win against Pakistan. Now, that is a big if. We certainly will score lots of runs.

    Although I am cheering for India for a win to the finish line, I think the finals will be between Pakistan and Sri Lanka, with Sri Lanka winning the cup. I have seen almost all the games, but Sri Lanka has started to peak just in time for the finals.

    Whatever, I will be up at 4 am tomorrow to watch the game. May be some 2-3 billion people will be watching the game tomorrow (this is about half the world's population), which is more than 4 times the size of people watching the Super bowl. It could be as big as the size of the World Cup Soccer games.

  • Report this Comment On March 29, 2011, at 2:50 PM, pondee619 wrote:


    When was the last time you went out and bought something because of an ad?

    TV ads MAY grant the advertiser general exposure ("even if it may be at a subconscious level", thanks Hotpicks), but to say that a series of ads during a hot sports event is going to make a difference to that company's bottom line, is absurd.

    But please, do report back to us on the increased sales your referenced companies experienced because of their exposure during the cricket match.

    Let's back up your "common sense" feeling with some hard numbers. Or, is your whole argument based on corporate executives know best. They do it, so it must work. And the companies that didn't get on the super bowl are now bankrupt?

    Super Bopwl ads are vanity on the part of corporate execs, payback in return for corporate seating at the game and their ad agencies trying to justify their existence. All at shareholder expense.

    Super Bowl tickets aren't easy to purchase, and if you want to go to the big game, it is important to know how the tickets are distributed in the first place. Every year, tickets go to teams, charities, NFL affiliates, VIPs, CORPORATE SPONSORS and networks before being offered to the general public.

    "Just a little bit of common sense suggests..." is an arguement used by someone with nothing to back up their point.

    Do you really think that ads during a cricket match and the ensuing chaos in the streets is going to significantly help the sponsors of the match? Your're going to have to show me that's so.

  • Report this Comment On March 29, 2011, at 5:48 PM, KAD1963 wrote:

    Sri Lanka looks quite difficult to beat and Pakistan is very strong; India will have to bowl very well. I think it will be Sri Lanka & Pakistan ~ my apologies to all India supporters.

    Having said that,..I'm inclined to agree with pondee619. The bottom line will not be affected very much by this, even though 600 million+ are tuning in.

  • Report this Comment On March 30, 2011, at 11:59 AM, pondee619 wrote:

    Oh, so the point of this article on these investment pages was nothing "more significant than a reference to a large athletic spectacle"? I am sorry. I was hoping for something useful in making investment decisions. Silly me.

    The reference to the seven listed companies was for what purpose? "I NEVER said anywhere in the article that sales or profits were likely to increase as a result". Were they listed just to get hits off yahoo's portfolios listing news stories of widely held compaines? Are any of the compainies listed sponsors of this game?

    The only reason for this article was to tell us of a cricket game between two rival countries? Was that it? Why are we encouraged to "take note of this fairly incredible event -- both athletically and commercially"? After all, you "NEVER said that ad spend would translate to the bottom line for the companies mentioned above (either directly or indirectly)" but we do have your belief that it ultimatley will.

    Have a good day, sir.

  • Report this Comment On March 30, 2011, at 12:20 PM, pondee619 wrote:

    BTW, who won?

  • Report this Comment On March 31, 2011, at 8:40 AM, pondee619 wrote:

    But who won?

    Or didn't you watch either?

  • Report this Comment On March 31, 2011, at 2:38 PM, mericanbull wrote:

    India won..

    for those interested in some pictures of the match follow the link:

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