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Are Digital assets redefining sports sponsorship in IPL-9?

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Are Digital assets redefining sports sponsorship in IPL-9?

Despite the setbacks and controversies, the glitz and glamour surrounding the Indian Premier League (IPL) has made it the most celebrated marketing festival for brands. Over the years the franchise has attracted huge viewership, and brands across the spectrum are vying for a pie of this platform at a price tag that can aptly be called-- exorbitant.

So what makes sports sponsorship such a growing trend in India, and what are the factors that are motivating brands to spend unreasonable amounts on sporting events?

Explaining this trend, Hitesh Gossain, CEO Onspon says, “Sports Sponsorship in India in 2016 has grown by 12.3% to Rs 5185.4 crore from Rs 4616.5 crore in the previous year. But as usual, the biggest kid on the block is the IPL. It has grown by 13.9% and contributes Rs 529.50 crore to the overall sponsorship pie.”

So with everyone eyeing IPL ratings, it’s natural for brands to analyse avenues to directly touch their target audience; something that is not always guaranteed via television based branding.

One such leading avenue is digital. The IPL teams have aggregated millions of footprints on various social media channels. Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR) on its Facebook page alone has over 13 million followers. It has to be mentioned that Strontium, an Indian Technology Hardware company is experiencing the results first hand via their tie-up with KKR.

“Mobile devices have become a second screen for almost 65% of the people who ingest sports content. Social media is now playing an enormous role in the way the audience is engaging with their favourite sports’ teams,” states Gossain.

He further adds, “If you are a brand and you want to reach out to a particular segment on Social media, you will have to invest a good chunk in order to get sustained returns. However, piggybacking on a sports team’s digital reach is becoming a new channel for brands to register their impact. Companies like Facebook and Twitter are working very closely with teams and leaving no stone unturned to enhance their online viewership.”

Britannia has been associated through their various brands with teams like Kings XI Punjab and Royal Challengers Bangalore. In digital the brand continued their last year’s online campaign-- #FunjabiFunde.

The objective of the campaign was to position ‘Good Day’ as a fun spirited brand. According to reports, the campaign was such a huge success that Britannia Good Day was one of the top sponsors in terms of top of the mind recall, courtesy its association with IPL. Through its product 50-50, it’s coming up with comic gifs (moving graphics) featuring the RCB players before every game which has garnered an average viewership of 100,000 for each post. 

Vodafone which has been associated with IPL since its inception nine years ago, allocates a significant (20-35%) of their annual marketing budget to IPL activations and campaigns. Like previous year, Vodafone will continue its property SuperFan along with other contests and activities like Vodafone FanArmy, Dance to #HakkeBakke, Vodafone SuperCheer and Vodafone SuperAlbum.

Saransh Gulati, Engagement Manager at Onspon, Head Sports says, “Over the years, Vodafone has made sure that its customers and cricket-enthusiasts get to experience its association with the league in the best way possible. Such activations go a long-way in sustaining the consumer and fan connect and frenzy with the league. Nowadays, people actually look forward to seeing the Vodafone Army & Super Fan at each match.”

Gionee, which came on-board as principal sponsors of Kolkata Knight Riders last year on a three-year deal worth Rs 54 crore, supported this association with a further Rs 20 crore expenditure on advertisement slots during the IPL season last year. This fiscal year, Gionee plans to spend Rs 150 crore in sync with the IPL season among its other marketing campaigns. Such activations have helped Gionee improve its brand popularity.

As the IPL season progresses, we are sure to see more brands take the plunge and leverage the enormous benefits of the digital extensions owned by the IPL Clubs. With a predicted forecast of an explosive 25% increase in social media traffic by 2017, digital assets will be a blue-chip trump card for several return savvy brands over the next few years.

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Prior to joining Madison PR in 2012 Chaudhary was Group President Corporate Communications at Reliance Industries Limited.