Lockdown restrictions to play spoilsport for IPL campaign timelines?

As the hub of ad shoots and post-production Mumbai goes into yet another lockdown, creative agencies are finding it difficult to finish off the work within deadlines

e4m by Mansi Sharma
Published: Apr 7, 2021 9:11 AM  | 4 min read
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With just a few days for the Indian Premier League (IPL) 2021 action to begin, creative agencies are working hard to fine-tune their clients’ campaigns for the big-ticket event. The excitement is at its peak across boardrooms as the tournament is the first big live event of the year, and also the first big marketing gala after the festive season got over. However, as the hub of ad shoots and post-production Mumbai goes into yet another lockdown, the hustle seems to be getting a little complicated.

22feet Tribal NCD Debashish Ghosh shares, “While many of the major brands are already done with their productions, there are still a few players who are yet to shoot their commercials. For some, the post-production work is pending. And we are witnessing a lot of stress and complications in finishing off the work within deadlines as we can’t use the weekends, production supplies are restricted, big teams can't be present on the sets, and most importantly, post-production people have to work with limited resources if they are working from home.”

“We even have to change scripts and locations to work around the new set of restrictions,” he adds.

But all of this probably won’t reflect on the production quality of these campaigns. Yet, it might lead to some budget stretches and a delay in certain campaign timelines.
dentsu Impact SVP Hindol Purkayastha highlights, “The ideas and production quality will not suffer because of the lockdown. However, some of the shoots might have to be moved out of Mumbai and there can be additional costs on travel, stay, logistics etc. Add to that a celeb problem, and you have got a situation.”
But aren’t budgets already an issue given the pandemic scare and several states getting under lockdowns again?

Bang In The Middle Co-Founder Naresh Gupta quips that brands are spending well on IPL campaigns as it is a big-ticket event and also because they have slowly started accepting the new normal as their way of life.

Tilt Brand Solutions CBO Rajiv Chatterjee highlights, “Brands and clients are still being prudent with their budgets and things are definitely looking up. The good thing is they want more bang for their buck than ever before and we are more than happy to oblige.”

Purkayastha, in the same vein, says that brands are willing to spend enough on a good idea. “And they are going big on digital this IPL. So we expect some good ideas and thinking.”

Ghosh, on the other hand, remarks that a good number of traditional brands are still very conscious about their spendings. “While the digital-first brands, especially those whose businesses were not much impacted by the pandemic, have loosened their palms for creatives, and their spends are conservative by about 10-20 per cent than before. The traditional brands are still quite sceptical about their spendings.”

He adds that a new trend that he has seen emerging is that fewer brands are now curating proper long-term marketing plans for IPL. “I would say possibly 20-30 per cent brands, compared to two years ago, can't afford IPL as a mass media marketing window. This means that they are not spending the big bucks on TVCs etc. They are going for efficient, quicker social media and digital campaigns that can give the similar ROI now.”

One trend that, albeit, is going to remain constant this IPL season is the use of light-hearted and humorous narratives in their ads.

Gupta notes that as most people tune into IPL for entertainment, it makes sense for the brands to take a humorous approach to storytelling and create light-hearted campaigns.

Purkayastha adds that it also makes sense from a logistics perspective. “You get 15-20 seconds max to tell your brand story during an IPL spot. It is not just enough time to say deeper narratives. Humour can quickly drive your point across. We expect a lot of this from the gaming platforms this IPL.”

He also mentions that brands, therefore, choose to pick up storylines that can be extended into multiple small narratives. “As the tournament progresses, it is highly possible that fatigue sets in within the viewers watching the same ads. Therefore, brands will pick stories that can be further broken down into more narratives.”

Ghosh points out that brands will primarily be using IPL to create more saliency and recall instead of hard-selling their products. “It makes sense because the customer today is quite clued in. They always have so much information with them that they are making purchases only when they intend to. It doesn’t make sense to hard-sell products to them via campaigns during a programme that they are watching purely for entertainment purposes.”

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