The 14th season of Indian Premier League (IPL 2021), which was postponed in May this year in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic, has resumed. As it is expected to get bigger in viewership this time, brands foresee greater returns in terms of visibility via marketing tie-ups with the tournament.
Livspace, which is the associate sponsor for the tournament on Disney+ Hotstar, expects 882 million impressions and reach of 60 million, which it considers significant. It is one of the many sponsors that had decided to continue their advertising deals with the platform, when it was postponed earlier this year.
Varun AR, AVP, Brand Marketing, Livspace, told BestMediaInfo that the IPL is probably the best property in India for reach-building purposes and so its postponement had no negative impact on the brand’s objective.
“For a brand like ours, which is relatively young, the property and the platform both are fantastic. So it makes a lot of sense for a brand like Livspace to be on this platform,” he said.
The other associate sponsors are PhonePe, Association of Mutual Funds in India (AMFI), Unacademy, Pharmeasy, Swiggy, Parle Agro, Amazon Prime and Coinswitch.
In terms of ad rates, he said the brand has gotten very similar ad rates as last year on the platform and there has been no significant change.
“We constantly work with Disney+ Hotstar, not just during the IPL. When you have a strong relationship with a platform, you get good rates. The rates have been the same, at least for us. In fact, when we had to pull out of the IPL because of the pandemic, they were very cooperative since they thought of a long-term relationship. They gave us preferential slots because of the partnership that we have,” he said.
It was earlier reported that the OTT platform is charging Rs 180 CPM (cost per thousand impressions) for a single ad slot and Rs 120- 130 crore for the slot of co-sponsor.
The brand has designed its ‘Don’t try this at home’ campaign keeping in mind just the IPL, and has been live for one-and-a-half months.
Having recently entered the tier two markets, the brand is trying to make a mass impact. Therefore, apart from digital platforms, it has also chosen to go on TV, specifically for the Tamil Nadu market.
“The reason why we chose TV specifically in Tamil Nadu is because while digital is obviously great, we are entering multiple tier two markets. We want to see how TV plays a role and want to experiment first with Tamil Nadu. We will be there via GECs, news,” he said.
For the campaign, it is doing a lot offline, including multiple print insertions, across all its markets in tier one and tier two and OOH in tier two markets.
“In the past, we have done print and OOH multiple times. Overall, there has been at least about 40% increase over last year in our ad spends,” he said.
The campaign is not just limited to IPL and might extend till the T20 World Cup since both properties are almost coinciding.
For its overall marketing strategy, the brand primarily focuses on category creation since 95% of the furniture category is unorganised.
“We are the market leader in the organised space. If we have to really grow as a company, it's the unorganised market that we need to actually go and capture. That's where our growth is going to come. So we need to create the categories and that's the role that we're playing. In order to do that, creating brand awareness, bonds, and the quality of awareness is critical. What consumers really see as a gap is the quality of materials and the quality of design. Most of our campaigns talk about the quality of material and the quality of design, specifically in the fixed furniture space. When we fix these fundamental things, the category itself grows,” he said.
While the brand predominantly bets on digital, the TV budgets are not as large.
The brand has also been capitalising on Bigg Boss Telugu on OTT to reach out the masses in the key markets of Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, Tamil Nadu and Karnataka. The ad rates on this property are more or less the same as last year.
Even publishers and OTT platforms are taking ad rates very cautiously, he said. “I think it's the best thing in the interest of brands and publishers, considering that all brands have gone through a tough phase. They are being pretty cooperative.”
It is also exploring Bigg Boss properties in other regional languages.
But what reaps more benefit for the brand, Bigg Boss or IPL?
Varun said even though Bigg Boss is a significantly large property, the mood of the nation is mainly cricket and people go crazy for it. Earlier cricket was predominantly a male-viewing property but now it has become more of a family event. And brands capitalising on it pay a premium for it because of the power of the property. It is also evaluating to bet on Kaun Banega Crorepati for the next year.
Asked how the brand sees Viacom sports channel as another opportunity to bet on, he said, “We are platform-agnostic. As long as there's a great platform, which is giving you great content, and which has the right audience, we will definitely go there.”
Aggressive growth amid pandemic
Livspace has crossed pre-Covid numbers in terms of growth and has expanded into almost 12 different markets and all of them offline during the peak of the pandemic last year. It has opened as many as 20 new experience centres and has grown very aggressively.
“In our history, this has been the most aggressive growth period for us. And we plan to continue this growth. If we were 1 before Covid, we have reached 1.8x in terms of growth now. We realised the opportunity for us to ride on amid the pandemic,” Varun said.
There was a massive supply gap in the market with respect to raw material and labour, and it significantly hit the unorganised market since retails were shut. But since the brand had very strong supply chains directly with the manufacturers, its warehouses and fulfilment centres kept running always. Consumers saw that the unorganised market was becoming a problem. The industry saw a massive shift and started engaging with trusted brands.
While its experience centres were closed initially due to the government regulations, it was active on its online tool Canvas to carry ahead the meetings. Currently, it's business as usual and consumers have started coming back to all its experience centres.