The ICC World Cup 2015 is set to begin on February 14 and marks the start of cricket fever in a country where the game is followed like a religion. With such fan following, the World Cup has also been a prized property for brands in India to invest in. The previous World Cup, which took place in India, had seen a number of brands such as Sony India, Hero Honda, Vodafone, Maruti Suzuki, Philips India, Nokia, PepsiCo, Airtel Digital TV, Idea among several others come on board as sponsors.
Brand associations for the World Cup
With just few days to the run-up to the tournament Star Sports had made an announcement on the brands that they have managed to sign on as advertisers which include Nestle, Marico, Yepme.com, Paytm, Raymonds, Pidilite and Lloyd.
Speaking about their association with the tournament Madhu Dutta, Marketing Head – Lifestyle Business, Raymond Limited says, “The World Cup is a marquee property in cricket for a brand like Raymond to associate with. We feel it’s the ultimate vehicle to carry our brand message at the onset of the Spring Summer season. There tends to be little channel-surfing during a commercial break; therefore a cricket match means a captive audience.”
Spokesperson Shankar Nath, Vice President – Paytm said, “We are looking with great interest at the cricket season ahead. There is a feast of opportunities around cricket during the upcoming season of World Cup & IPL. We are planning to spend millions of dollars in the upcoming season. Cricket is one property which helps establish a mass connect in India. Also, sports is the only genre (other than news) which has time sensitive content and has a captive viewer who cannot skip the ad breaks nor can have deferred-viewing on TV, web or mobile.”
Sandeep Sharma, founder & COO of Yepme said, “Being the third largest sports tournament in the world, which will be seen in more than 182 countries, it's a huge opportunity for Yepme to strengthen its vision as a global brand. We look forward to a large number of cricket fans participating in the contest even as they browse the fresh fashion at Yepme.com.” The company also recently announced that it is the sponsor of the West Indies team.
Another brand that has recently associated with the World Cup and is looking to leverage the tournament on television is PolicyBazaar.com. Naveen Kukreja, Group CMO, PolicyBazaar.com said, “One of the main media objectives for us this year is to increase our overall reach and customer base. The biggest sporting event of the year, Cricket World Cup gives us just the perfect platform to communicate our brand essence to target consumer. Cricket is the highest reach builder in India and our next ad campaign will be centred on the World Cup. As most of the matches are being played at Australia time, cricket consumption on the digital media will significantly increase this year. We are planning a robust digital campaign around world cup. We will use the opportunity to remind the fans of comparing financial products before choosing one.”
Too little brands, too late?
In the previous world cup several brands had already been associated with the tournament two weeks prior. Not only were there more brands, we also saw the association of larger brands in comparison which also shelled out big bucks on the tournament. While Sony India, Hero Honda and Vodafone were presenting sponsors on-air it was estimated to have cost each of them Rs.55 crore according to media reports. On the other hand, Maruti Suzuki, Philips India, Nokia, PepsiCo and Airtel Digital TV had paid Rs.35 crore each as associate sponsors claimed media reports. Many of these brands seem to be missing from the line-up this time around.
According to media planners, the World Cup alone is likely to garner Rs.1,200 crore in terms of TV ad spends. This would seem to be possible only if the global ICC World Cup partners (that are locked in as on-ground sponsors for the tournament since the last World Cup) such as Reliance Communication, LG, Pepsi, MRF Tyres, Emirates, Reebok, Castrol, MoneyGram and Hyundai also look to extend their association on-air too. For instance, MRF Tyres has already launched its own world cup campaign on TV.
The reason for a fewer number of brands this year has been the number of issues that marketers see as dampening the investment sentiment of marketers. Match timings are off, as the tournament will be played in Australia-New Zealand the matches will be in broadcast during the early hours of the morning.
Nikhil Sharma, Marketing Head, Perfetti Van Melle, India feels that the odd timings of the matches area what marketers see as an issue for investing and added to the Indian team’s poor performance off late. “It will have an adverse effect considering India’s performance has not been that great in the tri-series and the timings of the matches being odd.”
Similarly, on the doubts regarding the Indian team’s performance Mayank Shah, Dy. Marketing Manager, Parle Products said, “If India (team) is not performing well and looking at what is happening right now in the last series with Australia and with the World Cup being in Australia it is honestly difficult to predict. So if India doesn’t progress in the World Cup then your money goes down the drain.”
On the recent performance of the Indian team Chandru Kalro, COO, TTK Prestige said, “I think a lot of hesitation (from brands) will be there, the reason being the performance of the Indian team itself. If the team does not last for long in this tournament then the viewership will also drop. I think from the perspective of the performance of the team I am not too confident they will last very long the way they are going”. He further added that the high ad rates of the tournament are also deterring marketers from spending, added to it being the last quarter of the financial year for most companies.
Ad rates were up almost 50% in this World Cup according to senior media planners and marketers (Will World Cup TV ad rates spike by 50%?). They say ad rates for the 2015 World Cup have increased to Rs 5 lakh for a 10-second spot compared with Rs 3-3.5 lakh for the same span in 2011, and could go even higher if they picked India matches. Media reports had pegged the ad rates during the previous World Cup at Rs 3-4 lakh for a 10-second spot, which went higher as India progressed towards the finals.