Hasan Ali celebrates after taking a wicket during the T20 World Cup cricket match between Afghanistan and Pakistan last Friday in Dubai.—AFP
Hasan Ali celebrates after taking a wicket during the T20 World Cup cricket match between Afghanistan and Pakistan last Friday in Dubai.—AFP

Clearly, it would be impossible to stuff one’s face while Asif Ali the Finisher was belting out six after six. Putting up screens to lure customers into restaurants is not as lucrative a business as it seems since the chairs get filled in a twinkle of an eye while the tables remain bare.

Despite that, Fibbi café in DHA has put up two screens. “The volume of food consumed decreased because the people were so focused on the match. We don’t mind because the match was so good,” laughs Fibbi’s Operations Manager Faisal Mughal while reminiscing about the stupendous victory by Pakistan against India during the current T20 world cup tournament.

Each screen set up cost the café Rs57,000 plus Rs15,000 for the speakers while additional chairs and tables were arranged from a caterer for Rs23,000 to accommodate the over 500 guests for the Pakistan vs New Zealand match. “The chairs emptied out after the match but we hope we have accrued some customer loyalty,” said Mr Mughal. The cafe averages about 300 guests per day, many of whom prefer to sit in cars, a welcome change from the Covid-lockdown days when business had declined by 65-80pc.

From banks to beverage companies, the downstream effects of electrifying matches in the cricket-crazed nation creates ripples of economic activity across the board

Everyone has jumped on the cricket tournament bandwagon. Cafes like EasybyFatsos do not offer screenings but do offer promotions, including ones on their delightfully delectable doughnuts. Before the pandemic, the restaurant had lines of people waiting outside but business had been reduced to half during the lockdown. Slowly, however, it is coming back to pre-pandemic levels. “There has been a 5-10 per cent shift from dine-in to take away during the matches,” says Joyce Williams, manager of Easy saying that the impact of the tournament has been marginal.

The range varies from café to café, explains Athar Chawla, convener of the All Pakistan Restaurant Association. Dine-in decreases by 40-50pc whereas delivery goes up by 25-30pc. Something, which Careem was quick to capitalise on.

Offering deals and discounts of up to 70pc during this T20 World Cup, Careem also ran a campaign during the India and New Zealand matches. Whoever placed an order till 9 pm on those days, their money would be refunded (with terms and conditions) if Pakistan won. A refund of 500 credits was made to all customers in their Careem Pay Wallet.

Resultantly, the app witnessed a booked order growth of 127pc across Pakistan, with orders nearly doubling in Karachi and almost quadrupling in Lahore, according to the data shared by Careem. Their campaign has led to the app being opened thrice as much with plans to continue the promotion if Pakistan sustains its winning stream.

The traditional Pakistan-India rivalry was carried out on Twitter between the two countries’ delivery companies. A subtle dig from Careem referenced the ‘fantastic tea’ enjoyed by Indian pilot Abhinandan to which Indian Zomato replied by offering to deliver to the Pakistan Cricket Board. After Pakistan’s euphoric win, the digs had escalated to a meme war and additional publicity for the delivery app as fans jumped in.

Careem wasn’t the only delivery app basking in Pakistan’s victories. Daraz app’s live streaming option had 16 million views during the Pakistan-India match, which increased to 2.4m views during the Pakistan vs New Zealand game.

Based on the comments provided by Daraz, it is too soon to gauge the impact on the topline or bottom line of new users. However, the company argued the main goal of introducing Daraz Live is to move towards becoming a content-consumption platform as well. “We want Daraz to become a lifestyle platform and not just a shopping destination,” said the e-commerce company.

Similar to Careem, Daraz basked in the glorious trail of the juggernaut that Pakistan’s cricket team has become — it saw 15x more positive mentions about the brand on social media, along with the influx of memes and organic mentions by influencers on Instagram.

From Shaheen Afridi’s dismissals to Harris Rauf’s wickets, across the board businesses are relishing our cricket team’s triumphs through a range of promotions and publicity campaigns. From banks to beverage companies, the downstream effects of electrifying matches in the cricket-crazed nation creates ripples of economic activity across the board that touches virtually every segment of society.

Published in Dawn, The Business and Finance Weekly, November 1st, 2021

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