For a nation that worships cricket, IPL has attracted the best cricketing talent, celebrities, fans and has established T20 as an emerging format. Nobody is untouched by the soaring sixes, wonderful wickets and crucial catches of this cricketing extravaganza.
Being the most sought-after event, some brands are still betting big on it and remain unconcerned by the dipping viewership. Media planners believe that it is the only property that garners viewership ratings of an average of 3.9 to 4 over a period of nearly two months and besides movie premieres and events, not too many shows or properties score 3+ TVR, with key matches delivering more than 10 rating points. Hence, IPL becomes the most preferred platform for advertisers, also allowing for extensive ground sponsorship. For certain categories such as FMCG (including fans, ACs and refrigerators), it makes sense to associate with IPL as it takes place in their peak selling season. Telecom companies and banks get associated with the property due to the pan Indian reach and nature of the target group. Besides beverage companies, ITC, Godrej and new advertisers such as Ruchi Soya have also targeted IPL this season. Brands put in as much as 35 per cent to 50 per cent of their annual marketing spend on IPL.
However, the question is: Do we remember the invasion by Vodafone’s ZooZoos, Pepsi Dance steps or the spectacular performances by the cricketing stars? If people are spellbound with Vodafone’s ZooZoos or Pepsi Dance steps more than the star performers, then investing in such an expensive proposition is justified. There are several brands in the FMCG and automotive space that have not spent much on IPL and prefer to invest in general entertainment channels or any other cricket events that gives them better returns on investment.
According to media planners, the buying rates for IPL on TV (Max) has been in the range of Rs 3.40 lakh to Rs 4.20 lakh per 10 seconds depending on the size of spends and deal structure of the advertiser.
“Basis the brand on offer, the advertisers choose the appropriate media mix. There is no 'One Size Fits All' media strategy. For example, for a high-end automobile (say Volvo Cars) IPL is unnecessary wastage because 90 per cent of their audience would be concentrated in the top eight cities, so they could do with a mix of niche TV, English dailies and magazines, and focussed digital apertures,” said Anwesh Bose, Senior Vice President at DDB Mudramax.
According to experts, the cumulative reach of IPL has already crossed over 129 million viewers, with 60+ advertisers on Max alone. However, this year Volkswagen, Nivea, Flipkart and Amul are some big advertisers who have not come on IPL 2013 as compared to 2012. DLF has withdrawn its title rights and HP has decided to not advertise.
Navin Khemka, Managing Partner, ZenithOptimedia explained, “Using IPL needs to be strategic to a brand’s marketing activity and they will only use it if they have big news or launch in that period. Some brands consciously avoid the IPL period as they do not have the budgets. Some that want to be there look at reaching their audiences in non conflicting time slots and in genres which are least effected due to IPL.”
If a brand wants the consumer’s mind share during the IPL period, then a marketer has no choice but to be on IPL, irrespective of any shortcomings. However, there shouldn’t be any mismatch of price and expectations during the game.
Bose believes that there is no doubt that IPL has lost a lot of steam from a TV broadcasting perspective. “There has been a 27 per cent slide from the first season till the last one. But the silver lining for the event is the growth of IPL viewing on the web (Indiatimes/YouTube). A lot is being done by IPL authorities to try and promote viewership in forms of controversies such as 'slapgate' or too many last over finishes, which is very uncanny. If you scratch the surface, you would find many. And why will they not do so – IPL is an event/carnival which is big money and big business...not a sport anymore,” Bose added.
Some marketers feel that high costs remain an entry barrier. According to media planners, for an event that lasts for almost 60 days, a sponsor needs to buy spots in the range of 120 seconds to 240 seconds, which requires an outlay in the range of almost Rs 48 cr to Rs 78 cr. This can be the annual budget for a lot of advertisers. Even select matches need an outlay of Rs 12 cr to Rs 20 cr; hence, the rates are steep and the cost per rating point of a single-spot on IPL is nearly 10 times the cost of buying 10 spots on a GEC channel, which makes the GECs far more lucrative.
Mona Jain, CEO, Vivaki Exchange said, “It’s a very strategic decision to be or not to be on IPL. Some brands do not believe that the medium works for them because of the high premium costs and most of their marketing budgets is spent during the IPL season. The threshold money to be associated with a game such as IPL is huge and some brands feel that they will get better returns on other platforms.”
She added, “I won’t say that the sheen of IPL is fading away but people are taking a more objective view on looking at IPL and they are not just driven by passion. They also believe that there is so much of a clutter and in order to stand out, they have to spend above the threshold level.”
While IPL still remains a marquee platform for advertisers and is slowly becoming the Super Bowl of India, the biggest challenge is to attract small and local advertisers on the platform. It is important for every brand to access the marketing budgets before investing in an expensive affair such as IPL to achieve the desired results without getting lost in the highly cluttered space. The main challenge before IPL is to reinvent and regain itself to attract the big ticket clients.