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Celebrity endorsements in IPL up 92% this year. Is it Covid impact?

As per TAM Sports-IPL 13 Advertising Report, the overall count of sports celebrities doing endorsements in IPL 13 also grew 4.5 times over IPL 12

e4m by Sonam Saini
Updated: Sep 28, 2020 10:52 AM
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Indian Premier League (IPL) has witnessed a huge surge in overall celebrity endorsements this year as compared to previous years. The total count of celebrities doing endorsements in IPL 13 grew by 92% over IPL 12 for the first four live matches, according to TAM Sports-IPL 13 Advertising Report. 

The report states that the count of celebrity endorsements in IPL 13 is 48 as compared to 25 total celebrity endorsements the previous year. Also, M S Dhoni, Aamir Khan and Shah Rukh Khan are common celebrities who appeared during commercial advertisements in both the seasons of IPL. 

The numbers have come as a pleasent surprise for the industry. This is because with Covid hitting businesses across sectors hard, it was expected that brands may refrain from spending too much on roping in celebrities.

As per media experts, the reasons for this surge in celebrity endorsement in IPL 13 are multifold. IPL being the first big cricketing event of the year has drawn a lot of attention from advertisers. Also, this year, a lot of new brands have emerged as the sponsors and they have roped in celebs for commercial advertisements. The credit also goes to Covid-19.   

“If you look at the repertoire of brands on the IPL platform this year, many are first-timers. Most of these brands need visibility to be able to break through. Both IPL and a celebrity help provide quick visibility. For brands seeking discontinuous awareness or trying to establish a new category, celebrities provide a quick cut-through. Moreover, buying media on IPL is a big investment and a commitment. When you spend that much, you want to make sure that you maximize your impact. Adding celebrity to the mix helps do that,” explains Dheeraj Sinha, Managing Director - India & Chief Strategy Officer – South Asia, Leo Burnett.

This year on IPL, celebrity-endorsed ads have 46 per cent share of the overall ad volumes on TV and it was the same in IPL 12 too. However, the count of advertisers and brands grew by 18% and 23%, respectively in IPL 13 over IPL 12, as per the TAM data. 

Ajit Gurnani, CCO, Zenith India, shares, “I think it’s been a combination of two factors. Firstly, overall lockdown-related limitations leading to celebrity-led amplification as a potent and real force. Celebrities also found themselves in a space with fewer new opportunities across movies, television and events. Secondly, the changed nature of the experience that IPL was offering-- without the advantage of crowds & on- ground atmosphere-- led to celebrity-led impactful options and amplifications.” 

Interestingly, this year, 18 sports celebrities have been seen in commercials during initial four matches, whereas during IPL 12, only four sports celebrities were seen during this duration. As per the data, the overall count of sports celebrities doing endorsements in IPL 13 grew 4.5 times over IPL 12. Also, among sports celebrities, M S Dhoni and Virat Kohli were top two names in both seasons of IPLs.

Manish Porwal, MD, Alchemist Marketing & Talent Solutions, cites two reasons for this surge in sports celebrities doing endorsement this season. “One is that IPL of course is a sports property, and so there is an affinity towards sports stars for this long advertising opportunity. Many of the ads are from the brands who are sponsors of IPL or its teams so naturally they end up having a player as a raw material for their content. Also, when we say sports endorsement, it currently includes cricket stars and more specifically IPL stars,” he explains. 

Porwal further adds, “If there is a 92% increase in overall celebrity endorsements and 4.5 times increase in sports celebrities endorsements, imagine the kind of deterioration in the usage of film stars. The reason is justified. The brands take celebrities primarily for two reasons- popularity and credibility and match their value with the costs. Current popularity of cine stars is stunted because of absence due to Covid and then the drug scandle. Popularity, mind you, is not just about recognition; it is about liking and following someone, wanting to go by what he says. There is a huge dent that this zone has taken for top-end cine celebrities. However, another factor for the surge was also primarily driven by Dream11 and other new- age companies who have taken a lot of IPL sports stars. Hence, the count for sports stars doing endorsements has gone up.”

As per the report, the top five overall celebrities during IPl 13 were: MS Dhoni at the first position followed by Akshay Kumar on the second spot. Alia Bhatt on the third and Aamir Khan and Shah Rukh Khan on fourth and fifth respectively. In IPl 12, Aamir Khan ranked one with the highest share of ad volume. 

“Bollywood celebrities are going through a tough time beacuse of Covid and the drug scandal. In these times, for a brand, a safer option would be to have a sports celebrity and not one from Bollywood. With IPL going on, the timing is just perfect for cricketers to bat for more endorsements than a typical Bollywood celeb,” opines Aviral Jain, MD, Duff & Phelps. 

Speaking on the endorsement fees and the brand value, Jain adds, “ The brand value is consistent of two components- the endorsement fee per contract and the number of brands endorsed. Maybe, the fee per brand may not have dipped much but the number of days of shoots might have come down, or may be, the brands are negotiating for more digital content than physical appearances. It will result in the lower value than the pre-Covid times, but it does not necessarily mean that the fee for celebs have come down.”  

As per indutry sources, during pre-Covid times, Aamir Khan and Shah Rukh Khan were charging a whopping Rs 9 -11 crore for  endorsements whereas Akshay Kumar was charging Rs 7-9 crore. Alia Bhatt was taking around Rs 3-4 crore and MS Dhoni was taking Rs 5-8 crore. 

Gurnani said, “Basis inputs from our group specialists (Publicis Entertainment), there may have been an effort on the part of celebrities to accommodate brands & their requirements and create a win-win in the process.” 

2020 has been an unprecedented year for everyone. Speaking on the trend, Sinha, shares, “I think IPL will continue to be a high stakes game for brands year-on-year, therefore, we will see brands pulling all stops to maximize their investments on IPL. Celebrities provide a great cut-through and most of the times, good acting as well. So we will see this trend continue.” 

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