I’ve been following the Indian Premier League (IPL) from its inception six years back and have always been an ardent and loyal fan/following of Chennai Super Kings, the most consistent and profitable team in the tournament and perhaps the most followed too.
It’ll be quite surprising for a layman to see followers who revere the team. They have 2.1 million fans on Facebook and close to 300,000 followers on Twitter. The only other teams that come anywhere closer are RCB and MI. So, how did CSK develop such a loyal fan following in a mere timespan of six years? What follows is an armchair analysis of the same.
Unlike many other teams, CSK is a people’s brand. They don’t have film actors of money-flaunting business as the focal point, but instead the focus is on its game and its players and not on its owners. With a brightly colored Yellow jersey, they are a refreshing change from shades of red or blue that every other team has. Almost the entire stadium and even the city is painted yellow for two months of the year. They have the roaring ‘lion’ as a visual symbol, just an image of which clicks instantly with its fans.
The team’s success and consistency is another major factor. They are the only team to reach the semi-finals in every edition of the IPL, reaching the finals in three of them and winning the title twice. They have also won the Champions League once. They have also retained the ‘core’ of the team without major changes for the past six years whereas there have been major changes in the other teams and therefore changing fan loyalty. The players also end up as brand ambassadors and promote the brand on and off the field.
The franchise also interacts and keeps itself engaged with the region’s populace regularly. The team’s Twitter and Facebook feeds are active throughout the year even off season. They keep posting photos of the team during their travel, practice sessions and during the matches. They were also one of the big sponsors for the Chennai Marathon that happened in December last year and gave out t-shirts to all participants and volunteers (of course with the roaring lion on it :). Ans also there are loads of t-shirts and other merchandise that the team sells officially on its website and during the match.
In the end a sports team is incomplete without its fair share of haters. CSK too has a loyal group of haters who no matter what will always support the opponent team. There is always a group of people who post mock tweets and hate posts directed at the team, at Dhoni, at N.Srinivasan and anything even remotely related to CSK. With such a good share of both haters and lovers, CSK can already consider itself successful.
~Always a loyal CSK Fan