Even as Team India lifted the coveted World Cup trophy on Saturday, having lost just one match during the entire tournament, the official sponsors of the ICC World Cup have also had a dream run, especially on the back of Team India’s success.
exchange4media speaks to three of the biggest spenders on the tournament on how things have shaped up for them and RoI that they have got…
Thumbs up and up
Speaking on the take away, Arvind Saxena, Director - Marketing & Sales, Hyundai Motors India Ltd, commented, “The World Cup 2011 has been good for the advertisers because of India’s progress into the Finals. All India matches have given good TVRs compared to the non-India matches. The fact that India has reached the final stages of WC 2011 has given the advertisers a superhit.”
While for LG, which hasn’t leveraged the television medium much and yet spent close to Rs 70 crore solely on WC advertising, the scenario is no different. “This World Cup has been quite a success if one goes by the television ratings. Even though we didn’t advertise with spots on air, there has been great brand exposure through our in-stadia branding and the consumer ground activations that we launched. By the end of the World Cup, we expect better brand salience and deeper consumer connect. For the long term, we are expecting a renewed interest in ICC tournaments so that as sponsors we reap the benefits as marketers,” remarked LK Gupta, Chief Marketing Officer, LG Electronics.
As a sponsor whose product could be adjudged closest to the game, Nike has been able to direct the fan frenzy towards sale of official merchandise. According to Sanjay Gangopadhyay, Marketing Director, Nike India, marque tournaments always provided a boost to the sport and it was no different with cricket. He said, “As this tournament reached the knockout stages, the expectations, passion and support for Team India gained significant strength. We at Nike are extremely encouraged by the response to our cricket merchandise, which includes replica jerseys, cricket-inspired sportswear tees and footwear, jackets, etc.”
Minting the Market and Minds
Hyundai, which is the official car partner for the ICC during the CWC 2011, executed umpteen on-ground activities right from the beginning of February. Fan parks were created where customers were able to watch the live screening of matches on LEDs, along with car displays at Delhi, Mumbai and Chennai. Customers could win tickets and other merchandise in lucky draws organised at the venues. ‘Test the Best’ campaign and ‘First ball & Last ball tour’ were some of the other initiatives.
Nike India had launched its nationwide ‘Bleed Blue’ initiative in September 2010, expressing the support of a nation with a simple ‘Blue handprint’ to the Indian cricket team and to the sport of cricket. It was a 360 degree approach that encompassed various media, including OOH, digital, retail and grassroots. The campaign gathered momentum as the tournament progressed.
Meanwhile, LG launched consumer ground activations, called ‘Lead 11’ and ‘Mobile Army’. On the online front, it increased its presence with its Facebook fan base going from 50,000 to 350,000 during the World Cup period.
The Final Countdown
Team India reaching the Finals not only drove the cricket-worshipping to a tizzy, it also sent the sponsors into an overdrive. As Gangopadhyay said, “As the tournament reached the knockout stages, the support for Nike’s ‘Bleed Blue’ campaign grew stronger and more successful with over 11 million cricket fans showing support for the Men in Blue through this initiative.”
For LG’s Gupta the Finals alone didn’t accelerate the reach. “The CWC over its entire period has cumulatively built the reach. We do expect that the final will be the icing on the cake, since it will be viewed by a huge part of India’s consumers,” he said.
“The TV ratings are going to be very good for the Finals as a lot of viewers are going to tune in. The Hyundai brand would be visible on air as well as on ground, which would give us exposure to a large number of people,” Saxena added.
Time and Trends
Advertisers also extensively used the online media this World Cup season. Hyundai’s Saxena shared, “There has been a continued use of digital medium by advertisers since lot of people watched the live streaming, especially the India matches, on various sites like Yahoo, YouTube, Cricinfo, etc.”
On the other hand, Gupta observed that he and his team had not seen much experimentation in advertising this time, apart from usage of the online medium. “Unfortunately, we didn’t see any major new trends this World Cup. In general, advertising on television has been less inspiring than one would hope for, barring a couple of brands. A new trend has been seen on the online medium, where a number of brands such as LG, Pepsi, Kingfisher, etc., are working hard on social media to interact with and entertain the younger target audiences,” he informed.
Different ball game
When asked whether it was any different to advertise during the Cricket World Cup than any other event in India, LG’s replied, “Being a long-drawn out format, an advertiser needs to be able to sustain its campaign over many weeks, both in terms of spending as well as a creative approach that doesn’t get boring. Similarly, IPL, too, gives the same opportunities and constraints. Other events are more short-term properties, so advertisers can have smaller budget outlays for them and can even be tactical in their approach.”
Hyundai’s Saxena noted that brands that were associated with the ICC had started doing a lot of consumer interactions, which gave them maximum visibility. He added, “Certain brands get associated only on air. For them it is like advertising on any other event. If you are a ground partner, then you can utilise the connect with consumers with the passion for the game.”
‘Fan’ning the Fire
Given the religion-like reverence for cricket among Indian fans, brands go all out to cash in on the cricket extravaganza that is held every four years.
Nike’s Gangopadhyay noted, “In India, cricket is beyond sport. It is life itself; it is something spiritual. In a country where elite athletes are considered Gods and every little boy dreams to represent the country – the sport is personal and emotional. Every brand desires to be part of this huge enthusiasm across the country. For a sports brand such as ours, it is natural to be a part.”
However, Gupta felt that the nature of the brand decided the depth of its participation. He explained, “It depends on the target audience that a brand hopes to tap into. If a brand’s target audience is predominantly male and/ or youth, then it would be advisable for the brand to connect with that audience using the World Cup – either through advertising or any other means such as BTL activation or social media, and so on.”
Good, Bad or … ?
The response and consumer reaction on various campaigns for LG, Nike and Hyundai has been ‘encouraging’. Gupta informed, “The response to LG’s initiatives has been very encouraging. We got close to 40,000 applications from consumers to be part of the Lead 11 squad that leads out cricketers for the National Anthem ceremony. This initiative is now fully embedded into the cricketing system and LG has received fantastic exposure from this. The second initiative – LG Mobile Army – got more than 50,000 youth pumped up to send in their video entries to be part of the 2,500 consumers who won a place in the squads cheering in every stadium. In the process we touched more than 500,000 consumers with on-ground activation, and millions more via our online buzz.”
For Nike’s Gangopadhyay, too, the response had been “very encouraging”. “It’s overwhelming for an initiative to be so successful in such a short span of time. To have the whole nation chanting ‘Bleed Blue’ across India has indeed shown that India Bleeds Blue for cricket.”
Hyundai’s Saxena also said that the response had been “very good”.