Vijay Mallya has ensured that his brands do not fall out of Indian Premier League (IPL) viewership, though his team Royal Challengers (RC) Bangalore bowed out of the tournament. After RC's series of defeats, the UB Group chairman decided to cash in on his smaller investments in rival teams such as Rajasthan Royals, Delhi Daredevils, Chennai Superkings and Mumbai Indians.
The group companies have sponsorships in four teams other than RC. In Rajasthan Royals, owned by Emerging Media Group, Mallya's liquor brands such as Royal Challenge and Kingfisher are the associate sponsors. Kingfisher is the official partner of Delhi and Mumbai teams, while Royal Challenge partners with Chennai. Mallya already has exclusive ground sponsorship rights for his brands and his Kingfisher Airlines is the official airline for ferrying the IPL teams.
The marketing strategy of UB Group is effective as it ensures that its brands get visibility at every stage of the IPL matches, said Madan Sanglikar, national director, media buying company Mindshare Interaction. "UB Group has clearly differentiated itself from other franchisee owners who have not offered sponsorship to the competing teams so far. UB Group has put in so much efforts in marketing through IPL because liquor advertising on television is otherwise banned in India," said Sanglikar.
The decision to back the rival teams was taken by the company executives much before Royal Challengers lost out, said Amrit Thomas, executive vice-president (marketing), United Spirits. "IPL brought players, teams and cricket fans together. Royal Challenge and other brands from the UB Group leveraged this as a critical element in building brand equity. The decision was taken well before the tournament started," said Thomas.
"The group has started campaigns by putting up hoardings and publishing advertisements supporting the teams. The new advertisement strategy will ensure a life to UB brands till the end of the tournament. Out of the four teams, at least three are expected to find a berth in the semifinals," said an industry expert.
Mallya had won the bid for Bangalore team by paying $111.6 million, a little less than the $111.9 million paid by the highest bidder Reliance Industries head Mukesh Ambani for Mumbai Indians.