India, without a doubt, is a country which follows cricket as a religion and this makes Indian Premier League (IPL) extra special as during the tournament fans stay glued to screens be it that of TV or mobile.
As a result, the tournament itself holds significance for all brands and advertisers in the country. It wouldn’t be wrong to say that IPL in India is at par with Super Bowl in the USA - as what may seem to be a platform war between JioCinema and StarSports has raked in 147 crore video views on digital and 205.6 million viewers on television, respectively.
According to Megha Beriwala, Vice-President, Marketing, Shyam Steel, which has associated with Lucknow Super Giants as principal sponsor, cricket is the most viewed sport in India and the enthusiasm regarding the same penetrates into the deeper pockets of the country.
“With subscription-free streaming and relaxation of Covid-19 restrictions, IPL 2023 is guaranteed to witness a surge in viewership, both digitally and on-ground. Therefore, our move of coming on board as the principal sponsors of LSG is strategically aligned with our expansion plans in Uttar Pradesh and the Hindi-speaking markets - including Bihar, Jharkhand and Madhya Pradesh, which will also serve as a gateway to Northern India,” she said.
Beriwala also stated that the brand is looking to have a long-term association with the team.
Similarly, Sanidhya Mittal, Joint Managing Director, Greenply Industries, the associate partners for Lucknow Super Giants, said that IPL has revolutionised the game with a quick, agile and performance-based concept.
“In order to leverage the massive reach of this big-ticket property, which perfectly weaves in with our brand objective, we have renewed our partnership with Lucknow Super Giants as their associate partners for this year as well,” he said.
As per Ankit Kapoor, CMO and Operating Partner, Ananta Capital, Bella Vita Luxury - which is the official fragrance partner of Royal Challengers Bangalore and Mumbai Indians - is aiming to leverage the massive reach of both the teams and their star players to achieve the brand’s objective of rapid expansion across the country.
“We believe that our partnership with these top teams is the perfect opportunity to gain exposure for our brand and promote our products through innovative ad campaigns and marketing techniques during the tournament. Also, we are planning to launch a comprehensive 360-degree campaign with these two teams that include a variety of limited-edition products, exciting consumer promotions, and exclusive tie-ups,” he stated.
Kapoor also said that the IPL is a popular event which is viewed on digital making it an ideal platform to activate the brand during the peak summer months.
“Our target audience coincides with the IPL viewership, which gives us the opportunity to reach a large and engaged audience with our message. Overall, we believe that our IPL line-up will be a powerful tool for connecting with our target audience and driving awareness and engagement for our brand,” he added.
Tushar Malhotra, Head of Marketing, Bisleri International, which has come on board as the Official Hydration Partner for Mumbai Indians, Gujrat Titans, Delhi Capitals and Rajasthan Royals, said that they will be launching their integrated marketing campaign #CarryYourGame during IPL 2023.
“It will cut through all sporting and athletic associations, positioning Bisleri as synonymous with hydration and performance. We will also have an on-ground brand presence through four of the most popular franchises and will provide spectators with an exciting product experience through multiple vending points for our entire portfolio,” he said.
Additionally, he also went on to state that this time around, Bisleri will also be launching millions of co-branded limited-edition bottles with extensive coverage in trade, truck branding, digital and out-of-home mediums, capturing the spirit of the game.
In the views of Saroj Panigrahi, Senior Vice-President, My11Circle, which is the title sponsor of LSG, IPL has always presented a great opportunity to interact with the customer base of the brand, i.e- the fantasy gaming players.
“Our ambassadors can readily interact with our players' thanks to the various successful campaigns that we have every year during IPL, which helps us better leverage the competition. In fact, our partnership with Lucknow Super Giants has been quite successful in maximising the IPL season. In fact, our recent campaign also pays homage to ‘The Giants’ in terms of creative strategy, as evident by the videos in which our brand ambassadors portray characters who are larger than life and perfectly complement the enhanced experience that My11Circle provides for fantasy gamers,” he said.
Panigrahi also stated that My11Circle’s previous year’s IPL campaign had resulted in excellent player engagement on the platform and this is why now the brand is vying for more visibility in the high-growth segment growing through innovative campaigns.
“This year we plan on going even bigger than 2022 and we have introduced a major campaign where cricket aficionados will be able to get up close and personal with their favourite cricket players in the series ‘bade se bada’, as well as ‘Out of the Park’ and ‘Locker Room Tales’,” he added.
According to Addarsh Barathi, Brand Head, EatSure - the official food delivery partner for Royal Challengers Bangalore - the partnership is a strategic move to position the brand as a pioneer in curating the entire food experience and bringing multiple brands, both own and partners, to the stadium during the T20 match.
“Our objective is to enhance our brand visibility and drive consumption during the T20 season. We are confident that we can reach our target audience and create a lasting impression which will translate into higher business growth and ROI in the future. Through this partnership, we want to showcase our ability to be a true omnichannel player with an online and offline presence that will exclusively curate the eating experience at all RCB home matches as well as the online food delivery space,” he said.
“Although the tournament runs for only two months, the impact on our brand visibility and awareness can be significant. In such an instance, partnering with a sports team with celebrity cricketers will definitely be of an added advantage as we can leverage the team’s fame and popularity for our brand. Additionally, this can be a powerful strategy to differentiate EatSure from other competitors and get the edge in a highly competitive market as sports viewing and food also go hand in hand,” he added.
Marketing strategy for Tata IPL 2023
As per Beriwala, Shyam Steels is aiming to leverage the sports property to broaden its brand awareness at the national level and to ease untapped market penetration since its target group is 28-40 years of age, the majority of which are cricket followers.
“We will have a 360-degree campaign around IPL with ATL, BTL and digital engagement activities to capture our audience. Also, we are centralising weightage towards outdoor, radio and retail touchpoints and pre-arranging dealers as well as on-ground activation along with promotional activities to ensure high brand recall,” she elaborated.
Elaborating on Greenply’s marketing strategy for the tournament, Mittal shared that it’s a mix of digital and on-ground activation and that the brand is going to capitalise on LSG partnership during this IPL season to engage the end consumers and its other stakeholders via on-ground activation activities.
“Through IPL property, we aim to substantially increase brand recall and brand consideration, in the category,” he added.
Furthermore, Mittal also shared that the brand will also be producing digital-first, quick-snackable content featuring the players whilst connecting the brand messaging to that of the players themselves as the brand believes that such content will help them stand out from the clutter of campaigns through a more targeted media approach.
Ananta Capital’s Kapoor also shared the viewpoint that since Bella Vita is a D2C company, the primary focus for the brand’s marketing communications and ad campaigns during the IPL will be on digital media. He said, “We plan to fully utilise various digital channels including Social Media, Search Engines, Over-The-Top (OTT) platforms, and Connected TVs to reach our target audience.”
He stated that the decision to focus on digital media is backed by the rapid growth of reach for the medium, which is why the company has allocated a significant portion of its ad budget towards digital media.
“However, we do not completely rule out the possibility of utilising other media vehicles, as our focus remains on achieving the desired ROI and maximising the impact of our campaigns,” he added.
Moreover, Kapoor also pointed out that the target audience for Bella Vita during IPL 2023 would be Gen Zs who are passionate about cricket and also value grooming and personal appearance. He shared that in order to reach out to them, the brand will be using a highly targeted approach that takes into account various demographic factors such as age, interests, location, and income group as that will precisely help the brand to tailor their messaging and creativity to resonate with each specific cohort.
In the views of My11Circle’s Panigrahi, the brand’s marketing campaigns are designed with the sole goal of providing a special offer that enables My11Circle to stay connected to the gaming community whilst providing a rewarding experience on the platform.
“We have a fantastic range of content-driven social media initiatives on YouTube and Facebook that will engage our players in addition to our ATL campaign, which will debut on Star Sports and Jio Cinema. They will also be cushioned by influencer and performance marketing running on various digital platforms,” he said.
He also shared that My11Circle has created two television series- The Locker Room and Out of the Park, that allow fans to interact directly with cricketers.
“In order to keep our social media platforms alive with enthusiasm, there will also be content-driven engagement, such as games, quizzes, and more. We also have a robust performance marketing strategy to maximise engagement,” he added.
He also went on to add that the target audience of the brand and the audience viewing the IPL can see a 100% overlap as anyone who is above the age of 18 who watches IPL is the target audience for My11Circle as well.
“As we know that India is a cricket-loving nation, be it someone 18 or be it someone 50 years of age they all want to connect with the sport and the cricketers. Our players are at the centre when we design any new campaign or add new offerings as we are consistently working towards bettering their experience on the platform,” he stated.
During the interaction, Panigrahi shared that the brand campaigns for IPL 2023 are based on the campaigns for the previous year and consist of a number of films in which the brand ambassadors- Sourav Ganguly, Arshdeep Singh, Mohammed Siraj, Ruturaj Gaikwad, and Shubman Gill play larger-than-life characters.
“In a novel twist, the campaign leaves fans guessing about the first prize even as it announces the second prize, which is worth Rs 1 crore. At My11Circle, we have always kept the user at the centre. Our campaigns are based on the insights which we draw from our users and that’s the reason they resonate extremely well with our audience,” he opined.
Furthermore, EatSure’s Barathi shared that because EatSure believes strongly in being a customer-first brand, they strive to foster connections with people.
“In line with this philosophy, our media mix for IPL promotions focuses primarily on digital platforms with budgets primarily allocated for social media and platforms like Google and Facebook. In addition to this we are doing a high-impact outdoor campaign in Bengaluru including offer-led communications along with the key message that we are the official food delivery partner for RCB,” he said.
Moreover, EatSure also aims to leverage the power of podcasts – RCB Podcast - to reach out to their target audience.
“We are also spending on local outreach, influencer marketing, in-app marketing, and discount promotion. Through these channels, we hope to create a buzz around our unique proposition of delivering food from multiple restaurants in a single delivery,” he added.
Medium-wise ad spends during IPL
Beriwala shared that since Shyam Steel is venturing into IPL advertising for the first time, their budget is - 60% towards digital and the rest 40% between ATL and BTL exercises.
“Our strategy is to target specific markets in order to ensure control over spends, we have recently launched a digital snippet featuring LSG players and aim to drive an amalgamation of cricket and brand-led films which we believe will have a superior recognition,” she stated.
Greenply’s Mittal said that since their target audience – the new age homeowners constitute 65% of the total IPL audience, which is constantly shifting to a digital-first environment, the brand will be investing approximately 15% of their marketing budgets during the current IPL season as they have high hopes from the campaign in terms of its success.
As per Ananta Capital’s Kapoor, Bella Vita is planning to allocate a considerable budget for advertising during the event, given that this is the first time the brand has partnered with two IPL teams.
“We are willing to shell out a much higher ad spend than what we did last year, and we believe the partnerships will enable us to reach out to a wider audience and create a greater impact, thereby boosting brand visibility and sales. Overall, we are confident that this investment in advertising during IPL will yield positive results for our business,” he opined.
My11Circle’s Panigrahi said, “A large portion of our marketing expenditures are centred on the IPL season and every successful year gives us the confidence to raise our bar even higher.”
EatSure’s Barathi also pointed out that keeping in mind that the sports viewership overall has been growing in the country, the brand has recognised that cricket and entertainment are two big activities that unite India. Further, considering that IPL is a great opportunity to reach out to 30,000 (in each match) odd fans to experience food from the brand in a live match environment, the total advertising spending is planned with the objective of nudging the customers to try out the EatSure app across digital platforms, connected TV, outdoor mediums and social media channels.
“We have kept the marketing budget more or less the same as last year but the key difference is that we are channelling everything into one state instead of spreading thin across multiple geographies,” he opined.