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Guest Column: Cutting the Clutter, Advertising on the IPL—Vishal Baghel

01-June-2016
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Guest Column: Cutting the Clutter, Advertising on the IPL—Vishal Baghel

Innovation has almost become a perquisite for advertisers as a means to cut through the clutter, due to ever increasing ad spends that have breached Rs 1000 crore with more than 80 brands competing to woo the audience in the latest edition of the IPL, writes Vishal Baghel, former GM, Hansa Research.

Cricket has been the go to sport for advertisers, at least since Kapil Dev lifted the World Cup. He didn’t just hold on to a catch from Vivian Richards, but his team also caught the collective imagination of the country. Advertising, since then, has kept pace with the innovations witnessed in the game itself.

What was yesteryears simple ‘put-your-body-behind-it’ catch; has now become the acrobatic-parry-gravity-defying clasp. Likewise, ads too have come a long way from the sheepishly awkward Kapil Dev endorsing Palmolive; to the irony of a Virat Kohli being asked to focus on his cricket rather than ads, in the ‘Crash the IPL’ campaign from Pepsi.

Innovation has almost become a perquisite for advertisers as a means to cut through the clutter, due to ever increasing ad spends that have breached Rs 1000 crore with more than 80 brands competing to woo the audience in the latest edition of the IPL.

So does the IPL lend itself to innovation in advertising?

The ‘Mauka Mauka’ campaign was a huge success for Star Sports during the previous ODI World Cup. But that success was desperately dependent on the performance of Team India. The 2007 World Cup saw India crashing out at the group stage, leading the TRPs to nose dive and consecutively dispirited interest from advertisers.

No such issues arise during the even longer IPL. With 8 teams, audiences are ensured of a spectacle lasting the entire stretch. Even if the team that you support doesn’t qualify for the playoffs, there are still 14 games to watch … with the promise of an All Star Finale

The IPL is unique in terms of its proposition for the advertisers

  1. Guaranteed Viewer Interest – There is no reason to fear from a drop in audience interest due to faltering teams. Teams are in contention for playoffs till the very end of the league stage.
  2. No ‘switch-off’ period – An ODI match lasts for 7 hours. While it potentially gives more than double the ad time, it doesn’t assure that the viewer will be engaged during the entire telecast. The IPL does not have any ‘middle overs’ and hence can promise a captive audience.
  3. Duration – The T20 world cup is also similar to the IPL in terms of viewer interest, but the sheer duration of an IPL is conducive to a nuanced campaign. Brands can monitor and improvise on their campaigns based on the research feedback

Take, for instance, the advertising campaign for a leading mobile handset manufacturer (Brand B in the chart below). Armed with the feedback from IPLomania – a syndicated study conducted by Hansa Research, since the start of the IPL in 2008 – they tracked their ads for their recall value. Based on the feedback, they were able to improve the recall of their ads by incorporating the changes suggested by the study.

Popularity of the IPL is also evident in the consistent increase of ad rates by the broadcaster. Sony increased the ad rates again this year by 15%. While there was a drop in the number of brands that advertised in the IPL from the previous year by 15%; this was more than compensated by the increase in the ad rates, thereby increasing the total revenue for Sony. This turned out to be a win-win situation for both the broadcaster as well as the advertisers. Sony increased their revenues, and the advertisers improved on their brand recall due to lesser clutter.

Which brings us to another interesting facet of advertising on the IPL … the improved brand recall was not because of an increased spend. Rather, it was a function of ‘consistent’ and ‘smart’ spending. This benefit was revealed by another tool of the Hansa IPLomania – Recall Return on Investment (rROI) – which is calculated using 4 variables … Brand Recall, Ad Seconds, Ad Rates and IPL Viewership.

Amazon and Vodafone – both consistent spenders on the IPL – had actually reduced the ad-seconds on IPL this year. However, their brand recall in fact increased. This can be seen as a result of their continued (read consistent, albeit smarter) association with the league despite the increase in ad rates. They enjoyed a better brand recall even with reduced spending due to lesser clutter.

TV ads are not the only avenue provided by the IPL for brand presence. One of the most distinguishing propositions for advertisers in the IPL is the ‘sponsor logos’ on team jerseys. Here too the teams with less clutter on their jerseys have given a better recall to their sponsors. While it is intuitive that lesser logos on the jerseys will allow for a better recall for the existing brands, it is not just the ‘visual’ impact that had led to the better recall. The performance of the sponsored team also plays a role in enhancing the impact on the viewer.

SRH has provided the best recall value to its sponsors, both ‘visually’ due to lesser logos and their performance. RCB, despite the clutter, is higher on the recall value probably due to their performance. Whereas, on the other end, GL despite their fantastic run on debut, have faltered in recall due to the clutter.

Team Number of Sponsors Average Brand Recall (%)
SRH 5 7.2
RCB 9 5.5
DD 8 4.5
MI 7 4.4
RPS 6 4.2
KXIP 7 4.0
KKR 8 2.8
GL 12 2.4

Lesser Clutter – this seems to be emerging as a key theme for advertisers. Whether occurring by design or happenstance, it is certainly benefitting the advertiser. It would be prudent for the next broadcaster in IPL 10 to pay heed to the theme.

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