The IPL this year has been home to interesting ads, but there’s perhaps none stranger than the one featuring West Indian superstar Chris Gayle. Gayle, dressed in all black, sits backwards on a white chair against a plain white background. “Lissen me, I’m not a bad man,” he says, head bowed. He then raises his head. “I’m a bad boy,” he smiles. “Bad boy to girls,” he continues, as an attractive woman sashays into the frame. “Because they want me that way.” He then turns towards the girl and delivers the clincher. “Don’t blush baby,” he drawls.
While the ad probably delivers its message that Skore condoms are meant for “bad boys”, Gayle’s last line is no coincidence. “Don’t blush baby,” is what he’d told Australian reporter Mel McLaughlin during a Big Bash game in January last year. Gayle was being interviewed off field during a game between Melbourne Renegades and Hobart Hurricanes. “I wanted to come and interview with you as well. That’s the reason I’m here as well. Just to see your eyes for the first time. Nice. Hopefully we can win this game and (we) can have a drink after,” he’d quickly said at the beginning of the interview. “Don’t blush baby,” he laughed as McLaughlin looked flustered and them went on to ask him about his team composition.
The incident had created a furore — it was endlessly discussed on social media, and Big Bash Officials had lost no time in condemning Gayle’s remarks. “I heard Chris’s comments and they’re disrespectful and simply inappropriate,” said BBL boss Anthony Everard said in a statement. “There’s just no place in the BBL or — for that matter, cricket anywhere — for that sort of behaviour.” Gayle too had apologized the day after. “There wasn’t anything meant to be disrespectful to Mel, but if she felt that way, I’m really sorry for that,” he’d said to a crowd of reporters. In spite of his apology, Gayle was fined $10,000 (Rs. 4.8 lakh).
You’d think that would be the end of that — the incident would soon be forgotten, and people would soon start focussing on his powerful sixes instead of his dodgy commentary. But Gayle, incredibly, wasn’t averse to bringing up the comment at all. In fact, he brought it up when he could. During an interview with a male reporter during the Pakistan Premier league, Gayle ended with by saying “Cheers Tom. Don’t blush Tom,” before bursting into laughter.
And on the anniversary of the event, Gayle brought it up again, and even created a hashtag. “4th jan officially 1 year anniversary #DontBlushBaby – Australia lighten the —– (spelt with a ‘ph) up!!! …”.
Gayle’s bad boy image — that he appears to himself embrace — is clearly a magnet for advertisers. Skore decided to use it as a peg sell condoms, with the infamous Don’t Blush Baby line as the punchline. And while Gayle’s remarks might’ve hurt his cricketing career — no Australian team bid on him during the BBL the year following the incident — his brand partnerships might just more than make up for his lost cricketing income.