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Telecast row over Indo-Pak cricket series puts advertisers in a fix

14-February-2005
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Telecast row over Indo-Pak cricket series puts advertisers in a fix

With the Indo-Pak cricket series around the corner, advertisers are awaiting the final verdict on the telecast platform. As the series commences at the dawn of summer, categories like soft drinks and durables are waiting to cash in on the event. However, the big question is what does one plan on? All the elements, on which ad budgets are allocated, are uncertain.

Looking at the previous Indo-Pak series, Ten Sports had it going well as whatever advertisers paid, about Rs 2.75 lakh to Rs 4 lakh plus for 10 seconds, they got a combo offer of DD and Ten Sports as there was a simulcast of advertising feed in addition to the game. So advertisers got the advantage of a dual platform. Whereas this time round, advertisers will be cautious about the rates they are ready to pay.

Ajay Kapila, VP Sales and Marketing at Electrolux, said, "As a national and commercial player, we have a budget allocation for such events but right now we have no clue on the platform, commercials. There is nothing planned so far. We don't even know who is marketing and what are the terms of marketing and buying."

Samsung too is eager to associate themselves with the biggest sports tournament of the year so far. Shubhodip Pal, Senior Manager Marketing, Samsung, said, "With sports marketing as one of our key initiatives, Samsung will definitely be part of the first big cricket event this year. However, budgets have not been charted so far, as right now we are on a wait and watch policy. It will basically boil down to who has the rights and most critically when these rights are announced. If it is at the last moment then spends too would be critically evaluated before committing ourselves to the series."

Salil Kapoor, Marketing Head LG Electronics, feels that the commonality factor of Indo-Pak series has not crept in so far so the advertisers needn't worry about getting enough brand leverage. "It is a mega event. If it's once a year it will give good mileage, but if it gets more frequent than that, there might be a problem for ad spenders", he said.

There are other shows and events on television vying for consumer attention so cricket might have lost a couple of points. However, media buyers feel that within cricket there is nothing like the India versus Pakistan game. Said Kajal Thakur, Regional Director, OMS, "Indo-Pak is a big tournament, coupled with the fact that it is very well timed as we are stepping into the key season for lot of categories starting with durables, beverages, telecom, automobile etc. Also, as lots of advertisers follow calendar year, they will have fresh budgets for the season. But pricing will be tricky and the advertiser will be cautious as well. What is interesting is that platform will not have much time to sell."

Basabdatta Chowdhuri, General Manager, Madison Media, Delhi, said, "After a long time Pakistan is coming to India. From viewers and advertisers point of view, there is a high level of interest. The only fear in advertisers minds is the uncertainty of the platform and that it shouldn't be too expensive. Platform plays a vital role, as target audience is different for different channels."

There are also brands untouched by the speculations. "Pepsi spends a significant part of its advertising budget on cricket and it will continue to do so in the near future, not being affected by any stipulations. Cricket is a passion in India, and people are emotionally involved with the game," said Vipul Prakash, EVP-Marketing, Pepsi Foods.

Everything said and done, there is money to be made and sure reach for brands in this tournament. The action is building up with the three Tests and five one-day matches being hyped as the biggest tournament this year. There are still varied opinions about the ad rates this time round nonetheless Pakistan tour of India spells riches for advertisers.

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