With the festive season on the horizon, advertisers and brands are gearing up to capitalise on sports properties, foreseeing a goldmine of opportunities.
Anticipating a surge in brand participation, particularly in cricketing extravaganzas, advertisers said that around 15% increase in advertising expenditure (adex) is expected during this year's festive period, signalling a financially promising time for sports marketing.
Shashank Srivastava, Senior Executive Director, Marketing and Sales, Maruti Suzuki, said, “During this year's festive season, starting from August/September, we have a full sporting calendar ahead. The sequence of events includes the Asia Cup in September, followed by the India versus Australia series, then the Asian Games and culminating with the World Cup in October/November. This festive season is brimming with sports events.”
“Sports properties, with cricket, being a prominent example, offer value to brand marketing efforts,” he added.
As per Srivastava, listed below are the advantages that brands can garner during the festive+sporting season this year:
a) They provide a huge reach in just a couple of weeks. For instance, the World Cup's reach in just one week equals the reach of 4-5 weeks' worth of GEC (General Entertainment Channel) main impact shows.
b) Match days witness high viewership, with TVRs (Television Ratings) soaring as high as 9-10 for India matches, compared to the 1-2 TVR typically seen for GEC impact shows.
c) Cricket, akin to sports, enjoys widespread acceptance and viewership across India. It appeals to various age groups, genders, NCCS strata, and town classes (urban, rural and mega cities). Consequently, it opens up broad opportunities for all kinds of advertisers.
Hema Malik, Chief Investment Officer, IPG Mediabrands India, said that sports events typically begin with ambitious pricing but eventually settle based on market demand and supply.
“Initially, premium pricing is applied, especially during festive times. However, as the event draws closer and the economy's condition becomes clearer, the pricing adjusts accordingly. Currently, the response to the upcoming event seems positive, with clients showing interest and engaging in discussions. Star is doing a fantastic job of working out various kinds of packages so that the entry barrier, which is always the cost, is no longer a barrier. They are trying to work on incentivised pricing for smaller clients, first timers, sliced versions of packages so that they can max out their count of advertisers,” she added.
Furthermore, she went on to say that digital has a relatively infinite inventory because it is sold on impressions but television has a finite inventory. However, filling up this inventory, even beyond cricket content, has never been an issue on television. Selling those 12 minutes of advertising is consistently easy.
Malik stated that the previous festive season paled in comparison to the exceptional 2021 celebration. Since then, there has been a noticeable lack of positive market momentum.
“Amidst these challenges, I am optimistic that our current conversations and efforts will lead to a much-needed recovery period for all of us - individuals, the industry, and advertisers alike. Let's hope for a successful and prosperous rebound for everyone involved,” she added.
Rammohan Sundaram, President, Integrated Media, DDB Mudra Group, said, “With cricket being a year-round sport and the ICC World Cup coinciding with the festive season, there is a limited chance for anyone to overlook it. Therefore, we will see a lot of brands being part of the cricketing extravaganza during this festive season.”
The uniqueness is that cricket sees passion run through every Indian when the team performs well and with an expectation of India lifting the trophy on its home turf, every Indian is buoyant about the prospects of this edition of the world cup, which will lead to great TVRs, which naturally will attract advertisers to both TV and digital as mediums, he added.
BK Rao, Senior Category Head at Parle Products believes that the festive season in India has resulted in increased advertising rates for various sports tournaments. Broadcasters have recognised the opportunity to capitalise on the festive period and command better pricing. However, it's important to note that sporting events, except for the IPL to some extent, have not performed as well during festive times in general. This limitation has affected their ability to secure a significantly higher premium from advertisers. While they have managed to command a slight premium, their performance during the festive season has not met the desired expectations.
This year, the IPL edition was completed in the first half itself. However, hosting the World Cup in India is a momentous occasion, presenting a massive opportunity for further capitalisation. Unlike the IPL, the World Cup holds a superior and significantly higher level of craze.
With the tournament being held in India, the buzz is expected to be extremely high, especially for the highly anticipated India versus Pakistan match on 15th October.
“This scenario creates a win-win situation for advertisers and broadcasters alike, as broadcasters can expect substantial advertising revenue, while advertisers gain an excellent platform to reach their desired audiences. The World Cup also aligns with the festive season, making it even more promising for all stakeholders involved,” Rao stated.
Although Rao pointed out that associating with a big-ticket event might not align well with our brand. Explaining it further, he said, “We believe that during festive times, the advertising clutter for FMCG brands becomes disproportionately high, which may lead to getting lost among competitors' promotions. As a result, it's more prudent for us to reserve that budget and utilise it at a more suitable opportunity,” he added.
Karan Taurani, SVP- Research Analyst (Media, Consumer Discretionary and Internet), Elara Capital, said, “We had seen that in the past as well whenever there are some World Cup tournaments, the festive season leads to a big risk fight in terms of ad spends because many categories increase their ad spends. So, it's all about timing. If festivals and sports come together, it has a reasonable amount of positive impact in terms of many companies that would want to target or do their campaigns with sports put together.”
“So the festive season generally does lead to a surge in ad rates for different sporting tournaments but we don't know how the advertising environment will pan out this time around because currently, the new age companies still haven't come back to how they were spending. For a cricketing tournament or a World Cup kind of a tournament which comes during festive or non-festive, there could be an 8%-10% of positive impact on the ad spends if it comes during festive,” he added.
Sundaram said that the World Cup is a marquee event of the ICC and having it in India naturally adds a lot of value for the ICC when it comes to sponsorships. The strategic scheduling places all India matches on weekends and includes day and night fixtures to attract a broader viewership across various platforms. Naturally, that will set the tone for a much larger viewership. Some of the bigger names of world cricket will be followed by the Indian audience though the numbers for those matches will drop by half as compared to India matches but by the time we get to the final, it will again pick up regularising the expectation of ratings and therefore its price.
“There won’t be a dramatic increase but there will be money moving from GECs to cricket, which will add to the sporting event kitty per se and maybe we can see a 15% increase in adex during this time,” he added.
According to Srivastava, usually, overall sentiment amongst advertisers is positive during the festive season except say a year like COVID-19. It is time when brands open their purse strings to go all out on advertising.
“Usually ad rates in the festive season are 20-25% higher owing to limited inventory. This would further go up if major sports events like the World Cup are scheduled during this time. For example, the ad rates in this year's Cricket World Cup are around 16-18% higher than say IPL. Thus even sports rates are up in the festive season,” Srivastava said.
According to the industry players, white goods, electronics, auto, auto finance, housing finance, building material, e-commerce, builders and developers, and consumer tech are some of the brand categories which will try to take advantage of festive-led sports properties.