On the back of the Maharashtra Government announcing fresh curbs comprising night curfews and weekend lockdowns due to the steep surge in Covid-19 cases, Delhi also imposed a night curfew to contain the spread of the virus.
With the number of cases rising sharply again, we asked experts if this could affect sentiments around the Indian Premier League (IPL) and if advertisers would now be worried about their spending. And the general consensus was that the present scenario was not going to have any negative impact on either the cricketing extravaganza or advertisers.
According to R. Venkatasubramanian, President and National Head Investments, Havas Media, “IPL is all set to commence on April 9 as per plan and schedule. BCCI has gained enough experience while organising this big-ticket event during the Covid period in 2020. The only difference this year is the venue. As for brands being sceptical about spending money, most of them have signed up for IPL’s TV viewership. This year’s edition of the sporting event will deliver like always. All clients are aware of the ground reality of the pandemic and all this had been taken into consideration while negotiating with the channel."
Citing similar sentiments, Jai Lala, COO, Zenith India, said, “Brands and clients are all in a world where they know that this is the way things are going to operate. You will keep having lockdowns and unlocking as it (Covid) is not going to go away soon. It’s going to take one or two years until normalcy comes back, so this is the new normal as we call it. Therefore, working around this is what brands are adapting to. Any instant change is not going to be reactive.”
“Even in the experience during the lockdown last year, while ad spending had gone down for two-three months, it started coming back to normal. I don’t think it will affect IPL. I don’t think any on-air proposition, online or offline, will get affected. If it had anything to do with ground association with crowds, it would have been affected. However, there are no spectators this year as well.”
Speaking about their outlook, Deba Ghoshal, Vice-President and Head of Marketing, Voltas—which has been huge spenders on the tournament in previous editions—said they are confident about the 2021 summer and the tournament’s timing suits their objective.
“In the past one decade of our association with the IPL, we have consistently used the platform and made incremental gains as it cuts across multiple consumer segments to provide wide media reach and scale. With social distancing bound to remain in 2021, we expect people to continue spending time indoors, watching the tournament on their television and digital devices. With the 2020 tournament reinforcing the property well in terms of effectiveness, we expect the 2021 tournament also to do well during summers, known as the second Diwali for many consumer durable brands, especially in the cooling space. We remain optimistic about a strong summer, and the timing of the IPL suits our objectives across all product categories we operate in, right from cooling products to home appliances. We are confident that the IPL will continue to deliver the kind of viewership we are seeking, even during the extended pandemic.”
Shashank Srivastava, Executive Director, Marketing and Sales, Maruti Suzuki India, said, “There are two scenarios possible. One is where IPL matches are not affected as the crowd is missing, which is fine because then you have a good TV audience if there are lockdowns and people are at home. This is one positive sign. However, if the players themselves or the matches are affected, it’s another problem. As far as TV ratings and OTT platform watching is concerned, we have seen an increase whenever there is a lockdown. But in case the matches are affected, it’s a different ball game and then it’s a problem.”
Srivastava said the second wave does not bring a positive sentiment for the automobile market. “At the moment Delhi has a night curfew and hence it’s not a general lockdown, whereas in Maharashtra it’s a general lockdown. Clearly, these two types of lockdowns are different. The night curfew does not affect the automobile business as much as the complete lockdown during the day does. As far as sentiments are considered, car buying is a discretionary purchase in economic terms and so sentiments will have a disproportionate effect on sales. If it is good, it can have a disproportionate increase or could decrease if the sentiments are not that good. Clearly, the second wave or the third wave is negative on the sentiment front. However, a good thing this year compared to last year is that the virus is more known. Last year, we didn’t know what the virus was or how long it could last. This part can give people some positivity or less fear. However, with the second wave, the sentiments are not positive and not so great for car buying.”
Asked if this uncertainty will affect their media spends, he said, “Right now, it’s too early to say. Last time, the spendings on sports as well as GECs decreased as there was no live content. At the moment, I don’t know if that will be affected.”