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Guest Times: Brands need to plan better for mileage at IPL

Ganapathy Viswanathan, VP, Optima Response, wonders if logo branding on players’ jerseys is worth the money spent

Guest Times: Brands need to plan better for mileage at IPL

Ganapathy Viswanathan, VP, Optima Response, wonders if logo branding on players’ jerseys is worth the money spent

May 22, 2013

V Ganapathy

If sources are to be believed, the main brand emblazoned on the players' shirts across the chest in IPL costs a company a whopping Rs 200 million. The secondary branding (the smaller brand logos) costs around Rs 50 million. Is it worth so much for brands to buy logo or branding space across the several options available?

One needs to carefully examine and see how much a brand can leverage such displays to gain mileage. While cost is one factor, there are several other factors right from brand fit to brand relevance that one needs to think over before deciding to put one’s brand on the shirts of the IPL players. From my observation one needs to look at the following criteria before taking a deep dive in sponsoring a brand on a player’s jersey:  

  1. Brand fit: Does my brand connect the personality of the team with whom I would like to be associated in terms of tone, style and manner?
  2. Local brand connect: If I am a brand from a certain state, then I will look at partnering with that particular team from that state. For example, India Cement whose pedigree is from Chennai would therefore like to stay connected with Chennai Super Kings.
  3. Brand position: Get the right position on the jersey, otherwise it is a huge waste of money. Today, brands like Nokia and Aircel are top of mind and people can easily recall the brand because they have taken a prominent place for branding. But the same is not true with other brands like Nissan or Rose Valley.
  4. Secondary branding loses its shine: Here many of the brands get buried in the clutter; I cannot recall any brand with ease here. Since the spectators are totally glued to the match, to catch their eyeballs is the biggest challenge for marketers.
  5. Brand colours: Since many of the matches are played at night, you might have to also tweak the brand colours to match the jersey of the teams playing. So, sometimes you may have to deviate and compromise from your original brand colours to stand out in the clutter.
  6. Brand propagation: You also need to strongly propagate your brand to leverage the branding association with the players. This can be via mass media, social media or activation at various touch points. For example, if it’s a liquor brand, one can leverage it through promotion at pubs or sampling merchandise at the match venues.

Finally, I think if brands are paying such huge amounts only for branding, they are not getting their money's worth. Once a company pays for the branding, it should spend three to four times that amount in media and activation to promote the brand association. This is where most companies falter as they don't exploit the association with a team to the maximum. You may as well not pay for just the logo on the apparel but instead take television spots or use other media to get visibility for your brand during the IPL season.

(Ganapathy Viswanathan, Vice-President, Optima Response, has over two decades in Communication, Branding and Public Relations. He has worked with several large agencies such as Ogilvy & Mather, Lowe and Mudra Group. His last assignment was in PR as General Manager – West of 2020 MSL.)

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