In-depth: IPL or general elections? A tough choice for advertisers

Brands deliberate on their marketing strategy for both the major properties falling in Q1

Sakshi Sharma
Updated On
New Update
In-depth: IPL or general elections? A tough choice for advertisers

With the IPL and general elections, each two-month-long highly engaging event, coinciding in the first quarter of FY2025, advertisers are all set to capitalise on both opportunities concurrently.

Shashank Srivastava

Shashank Srivastava, Senior Executive Director, Marketing and Sales, Maruti Suzuki, said, “Both general elections and the IPL are important media events in April 2024 and May 2024. IPL being the major cricketing event of the year will see huge ad budgets getting allocated because of its universal appeal in India as well as ad rates for cricket being higher than normal ad rates.”

“At the same time, general elections are a once-in-a-five-year event, and consumption of news increases during some key days during the elections, which makes this another important media event not to be missed,” he added.

Srivastava told that Maruti would be present at both events and allocate budgets that would be media-sufficient in terms of reaching TG.

Mahek Chhaya

Mahek Chhaya, Director - Strategy, Carat India, emphasised that in navigating the significant overlap between general elections and IPL, brands must devise strategic approaches to efficiently allocate advertising budgets across TV and digital platforms, considering the unique dynamics of each event.

IPL is a longer, more drawn-out ad fiesta with plenty of opportunities for brands to play their hand on TV as well as digital platforms.

While elections run across a shorter and tighter timeline, they peak on the counting day.

Additionally, IPL allows for a more spread-out expanse, especially on digital, both on direct IPL buys as well as non-IPL buys that are affiliated with the tournament, while elections are a fiesta for the news channels.

Furthermore, Chhaya mentioned, “Despite limited affiliated ecosystems, the sheer magnitude of viewership on counting day surpasses even the IPL per match viewership. TV ad spends during elections are predominantly channelled through news channels, capturing the maximum eyeballs during this critical period.”

Hema Malik

Hema Malik, Chief Investment Officer, IPG Mediabrands India, said that both the IPL and general elections appeal to similar demographics, particularly a male-centric audience. “But I don't see them as directly competing or overlapping. Each event has its own distinct audience,” she said.

“It's worth considering a strategy that looks at both options carefully. Considering the available resources, it's likely that both the elections and the IPL will thrive as separate opportunities,” she added.

During that period, the typical entertainment genre takes a back seat. Cricket tends to attract a wide audience, making it a great platform to amplify brands' communication or campaigns, Malik added.

Krishnarao Buddha

Krishnarao Buddha, Senior Category Head at Parle Products, said that both general elections and the IPL present great chances for the brand to connect with its audience.

Having said that, while the audience watching General Elections, which is mainly male, aligns with Parle Products’ TG, it's relatively less significant for them, added Rao.

However, IPL, as an event, attracts a diverse audience, including women, children, and young adults. “Our marketing strategy is tailored to leverage the IPL's broad appeal while maintaining a balanced approach to reach various demographics effectively,” he added.

Chhaya said, "Brands must answer certain things before jumping in and giving in to the very urgent and real urge to make hay in the sun shining on these high-decibel flagship media events. How invested are they in the IPL or elections? If they are invested, then to what extent and in what ways? Is your audience the kind to sit through the polling days? Would they tune in the last few hours on the counting day to see who made it? Are they score checkers for conversation's sake, or are they into the gameplay and know the speed of the ball in the last over? The event, after all, is as big as its relevance for the consumer.”

Ashish Tiwari

Meanwhile, Ashish Tiwari, Chief Marketing Officer (CMO) of Home Credit India, said that it's not just about general elections or the IPL. Whenever people are tuning in and ready to listen, advertisers want to seize that opportunity. Whether it's morning, noon, or night, whenever the audience is engaged, advertisers want to reach them with their messages.

“The IPL essentially challenges one's ability to engage with the audience within a short timeframe, unlike general elections, which unfold over a longer period. Because of this duration disparity, there's a heightened demand for updates, making news channels crucial during such events. Consequently, my expenditure on news increases. Similarly, with IPL, audience segmentation becomes more precise. Specific demographics are more accessible, prompting a focus on avenues where this audience seeks updates or consumes content. This shift also affects general media planning strategies,” Tiwari said.

“In our campaigns, we focus heavily on digital platforms, which allows me to target specific audiences with precision. If I want to reach a particular type of person, I can define that persona and tailor my campaigns accordingly. Whether it's for a brand or during election season, my target audience remains consistent,” he added.

Srivastava pointed out that one important factor that influences a brand's presence on these events is the nature of the programming for these events. For IPL, it is continuous live programming day on day, whereas for general elections, it is sporadic in nature, which means programming goes live on certain key days like polling days, counting days, and government formation days, and regular programming on other days.

Hence, over an overall cumulative period of two months, IPL would garner a higher reach and share of viewership than general elections, and the allocation of budgets would be accordingly. But at the same time, elections have a specific appeal in certain strata and higher age groups, where election-related news programming will have a significant impact, he added.

“On specific days, like polling days, news viewership jumps to 2X-3X, and on counting days, it goes as high as 4X-8X compared to regular days. Hence, a lot of advertisers, especially from low-involvement businesses like FMCG, microfinance, pharma, etc., will be highly active in general elections,” he added.

Innovative campaign approaches

According to Srivastava, “general elections are a celebration of our democratic values, and as a society, we all come together and participate. Hence, creatively, there is a lot more freedom to produce interesting and engaging content. IPL being cricket, which is governed by BCCI laws, and hence IPL sponsors enjoy more creative and on-ground privileges than other advertisers and hence can creatively explore more ideas.”

Chhaya emphasised that over the years, we have seen different categories trying to grab the audience’s attention between elections and the IPL. However, the approaches and tonal sensibilities are radically different owing to the differences in the sanctity and nature of the two events. IPL allows for light-hearted, gamification-led, interactive engagement opportunities with the audience.

“The context and mind state of the audience around IPL is such that it's an opportune time for brands to experiment with campaign strategies, in a way that they can drive memorability and cut through clutter over the period of time the tournament lasts. Interactive fan experiences, cut-through social media engagement, and engaging second-screen experiences are cool ways of engaging with the community,” Chhaya said.

“The sanctity of the elections requires brands to play within a guardrail but makes for a significant event in the lives of Indian consumers where a lot of messages and approaches drive home the point much harder than during the rest of the year. It’s a great time to regionalise and localise campaigns, bringing up vernacular nuances to appeal to the voter’s sentiments that especially heighten during the election season,” she added.

IPL brands advertisers cricket news Growth celebrity endorsement advertising strategies revenue. sales