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World Cup 2015: Are cola giants taking a step back from the action?

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World Cup 2015: Are cola giants taking a step back from the action?

Every ICC World Cup in the past has seen cola or soft drink companies very active in advertising on television. The big cola companies such as PepsiCo and Coca-Cola have especially been very active and have increased their advertising spends during this tournament which comes once in four years. However, this year’s World Cup is an exception as none of the cola companies can be seen present on the tournament as a TV broadcast sponsor.

Pepsi is one of the global sponsors for the World Cup this year and has been since the previous edition in 2011. It is one among the brands such as Reliance Communications, LG, Reebok, Hero Honda, Emirates, Yahoo, Castrol and Money which are the on-ground sponsors and have together paid an estimated Rs 1,200 crore, which has been locked in since the previous edition.

In the last edition Pepsi also advertised on television and was an associate sponsor. It is estimated to have paid Rs 35 crore as associate on-air sponsor. The other associate sponsors in the 2011 World Cup included Nokia, Maruti Suzuki , Philips India and Airtel Digital TV. Pepsi for the 2011 World Cup had come up with its TV campaign called ‘Change the Game’ with 7 different TV ad films on how different cricket stars such as Dhoni, Harbajan, Dilshan, Kevin Peterson and others learn their different cricket batting strokes which they are famous for.

Coca-Cola even though it was not an official sponsor during the 2011 World Cup had decided to get in on the action with its ‘Sprite Gully Cricket’ campaign. It had launched the campaign around the beginning of March which was targeting cities such as Kolkata, Mumbai, Ahmedabad, Bangalore, Varanasi, Ranchi, Patna, Nasik, Rajkot, Mangalore, Vijayawada and Durgapur.

For the 2007 World Cup Pepsi had signed as the official sponsor for over Rs.133 crore according to media reports. In February that year the cola company launched its new product Pepsi Gold which symbolised the gold coloured World Cup trophy and created a TVC campaign around it called ‘Pepsi Gold Cola’.

However, this year both these two cola giants have not created any buzz on TV around the World Cup for their cola brands. Pepsi instead this year has created an ad campaign for they chips brand Lay’s. So the question is why haven’t they created any buzz for their cola brands on TV during the World Cup like they always have done in the past?

Some media planners are of the opinion that the reason behind this may be the non-prime time viewing hours of the matches during this World Cup. “Ultimately the timings (of the World Cup) are not very conducive for viewership. But we can’t say that they are not on the World Cup. I am sure they might be doing a lot of things online (for the World Cup),” says Vaishali Verma, VP, Lodestar UM and Initiative, IPG Media.

Pepsi has launched their World Cup campaign #peptalk Tau Ka Gyaan  and an associated contest.

While other media planners feel that the reason behind the cola companies’ decision to not be active on the World Cup on TV might be because they are saving their funds for the Indian Premiere League (IPL) that begins barely six days post the completion of the World Cup. They also believe that the IPL falls in their season of spends when the summer sets in.

“They are saving their money for IPL which is going to be bang on in their season. IPL certainly is a draw, no doubt about that. So if I have an X amount of money I would rather spend a large deal of that on IPL and not on the World Cup. During the IPL season summer will be in its full bloom across the country and that is when cola companies will spend their money,” says Dinesh Vyas, GM, OMD.

This can be one of the reasons as Pepsi is the title sponsor for the IPL. It is estimated to have spent Rs.150 crore on IPL in 2013, which included spending almost Rs.70 crore on-air and on-ground sponsorship according to media reports. It had also signed a Rs.50 crore deal with Multi Screen Media (MSM) for the presenting sponsorship rights and Rs.16-18 crore as the drinks partners for eight teams excluding Mumbai Indians.      
With the non-prime time viewing hours of the matches for the World Cup and considering IPL being right after the World Cup and at a time when cola companies prefer to spend, these could all culminate to reasons why we see very little of cola companies spending on TV during this World Cup. 

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