January 12th saw the launch of Bharthi Airtel in Sri Lanka. That tune which was so familiar on Dialog TV (ironic, I guess) began to feature on the local TV channels as well, with Sharuk Khan greeting Sri Lankans with a cheerful “Hello Sri Lanka”.
It was not long after this that another ad did the rounds – it features our very own Kumar Sangakkara talking about being shushed all throughout his life and now wondering why complicated mobile plans should stop him. Then those words (Unicode Sinhala required):
?? Airtel ??? ???? ????. ?? ???? Simple plan ????.
(Translation: I switched to Airtel. It’s a very simple plan). This was apparently considered by many as a betrayal, since Kumar had been prominently featured on the hoardings, advertisements of Hutch – one of the smaller players in the mobile telecommunications market.
Soon afterwards, my inbox received emails which features Sanga’s face and various products and that infamous tagline;
?? Nestomalt ??? ???? ????. ?? ???? Simple plan ????.
(Translation: I switched to Nestomalt. It’s a very simple plan). This played on Sanga’s present status of appearing in ads endorsing the malt drink “Viva” (which led not so long ago to the whole “??? ????? ?????????? Viva” fiasco) and the fact that Nestomalt is the competing brand.
?? Eva ??? ???? ????. ?? ???? Simple pad ????.
Translation:I switched to Eva (sanitary pads). It’s a very simple pad. Some wordplay involved here.
Then there was the email about Sanga switching to being vegetarian and how that’s a simple plan, while there also were various photoshopped images of him pondering the Dialog logo on his T-shirt during the match.
In addition to this sudden influx of anti-Sanga sentiment was our own office colleague who quipped (after hearing that Sanga had lost his wicket);
?? Pavilion ??? ???? ????. ?? ???? Simple place ????.
Translation: I switched to the pavilion. It’s a very simple place.
Ah… poor Sangakkara.
What seems to have gotten the goat (goats?) of some of Sri Lanka’s netizens is not so much the fact that the guy switched his endorsements from one provider to another, but the fact that he had the cheek to actually say so on national television. After hailing the guy for his forthrightness, I think it’s pretty unfair to criticise him for being forthright about changing his endorsements. After all, endorsements are surely a major source of income for professional cricketers in Sri Lanka.
That said, this has caused some negative publicity for both Sangakkara (for switching sides, so to speak) and Airtel (for poaching Sangakkara).
I just hope that this undue criticism has had nothing to do with his recent performance at Dambulla.
On a completely different note, this is my first post to include Sinhala. Although it makes me cringe to see the kombuwa follow letters in unicode Sinhala, it was the easiest way to express these sentiments online (plus, my limited requirement didn’t involve much opportunity for the attack on Sinhala). Hat tip to Shaakunthala for having the Real Time Font converter from UCSC and the Local Language Resource Portal links on his blog, without which this post wouldn’t have been possible.
UPDATE: Sangakkara has a short and sweet reply on this issue at this blog, here. (thanks Don!)