How Hotstar integrations have given IPL an edge this season

While some advertisers are busy giving real-time updates of matches on their social media handles, others are creating ‘socially distanced co-viewing’ experiences and various new digital experiences

e4m by Misbaah Mansuri
Updated: Oct 22, 2020 8:52 AM
Hotstar IPL

While Star India’s streaming portal Hotstar has had some interesting integrations during the course of the live stream of IPL matches in the past, this year the space seems to have gone a notch higher. The various interactive features have presented brands with a gamut of ways to integrate advertisements with social media. These have brought to light a variety of interesting trends that brands are capitalizing on to leave viewers clean-bowled.

From social media handles of advertisers getting on board with real-time developments to weaving some ‘nail-biting’ integrations and creating ‘socially distanced co-viewing’ experiences, brands are adding a layer of social interactions this IPL.

Auryndom Bose, Group Creative Director, dentsu One, observed that brands too have been riding the ‘socially distanced co-viewing’ experience. “Over mobile or various platforms while staying in touch digitally with your family, friends, groups, even if they aren’t physically close, most ad campaigns notably Facebook reflect this aspect of the new normal.” Bose remarked that fantasy gaming brand Dream11 completely takes the cake in integrating IPL in both its gamification and the big celebrity appeal of the ads. “The ‘Apna Game’ platform is seamless to the mood of cricket across,” he said.

Presenting another aspect of IPL integrations this year has been Google temporarily banning and issuing notices to Paytm, Swiggy and Zomato for cash back gamification and promotions related to IPL citing violation of Play Store policies. “This ushers in not just the complexity of creating buzz around an event but also announces a new watch dog on the advertising /marketing horizon — Google,” Bose observed.

Upping the ante from the previous tournaments, this year Disney+ Hotstar VIP has added new features to the interactive Watch’N Play social feed that allows a nationwide virtual community of cricket lovers to share excitement and show support while watching the matches LIVE on the platform.

Another unique trend this year is of social media handles of advertisers getting on board with real-time developments. “Fast & Up which is the official nutrition partner of CSK is one of the brands that almost treats itself as an extension of the CSK and it’s blogs and Twitter handle reflect updates, reminders to nothing but CSK games,” Bose noted.

As a precursor to this social layer, in 2018 Hotstar had introduced a special feed that allowed viewers to post emojis while watching a match.

Hayden Scott, Group Creative Director, Famous Innovations, notes that from masks to stamina to confidence to hygiene, unique "official sponsorships" too have become very creative this year. “Every brand at the IPL is an official sponsor of their own brand equity. I like what Boost is doing with CSK where fans can record a "roar". It's fun and relevant to the event. That having been said, CEAT's strategic timeout partnership is the most remembered, at least for me because it scores high on relevance and consistency...they've been doing this since 2015.”

Since there is next to no scope of ground activation considering the current pandemic situation, one of the obvious trends to come out this IPL season is the increased focus on digital integrations. According to Sahil Siddiqui, AVP Creative Strategy, WATConsult, a trend that has come out rather strongly is that brands are now choosing to humanise the cricketers and celebrities in their representation. “Portraying the rules of gully cricket that the audience can relate to more and depicting our favourite cricketers trying to understand them, Dream 11 in their most recent campaign, painted a very nostalgic picture and humanized our heroes. Same stands true for My 11 Circle and Cred ad campaigns,” he remarked.

To be sure, fantasy sports websites and apps have emerged in a much bigger way this time around, with Dream11 even being the title sponsor for IPL 2020. “One major part of cricket in general and IPL in specific is the community it builds and the conversations it initiates. Since that is lacking due to the minimised social contact this year, fantasy cricket has presented itself as a viable alternative,” Siddiqui noted.

Moreover, online food delivery apps like Zomato and Swiggy have always gone all out to incorporate the enthusiasm and the festive feeling that the IPL season brings with it. “A recent example of their creativity are their menus and dishes based on the IPL city teams, which makes for a very colourful and relatable experience for the consumers. It also helps to pique the consumer’s interest in that day’s match,” Siddiqui added.

Recently, Italian MNC and confectionary brand Bauli launched an ad campaign titled ‘Save The Nail’, where they positioned their product as an alternative for biting our nails during a ‘nail-biting’ end to a cricket match, and showed that our nails will be happier for it. “It was interesting to see such a simple insight that people have a habit of chewing their nails in excitement or nervousness, used to create a humorous and extremely relevant campaign,” Siddiqui remarked.

Given that the sporting extravaganza has had to pull the plug on ground activations this year owing to the situation, to be sure digital activations have been the mainstay of experiential spends. Having said that, given the way brands are creating interactive digital experiences, they seem to be as immersive as physical activations are known to be.

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