IPL 2020 a sticky wicket for brands?

Industry watchers say the pandemic left little time for brands to prep in terms of marketing strategies, leading to a dearth of variation in messaging

e4m by Ruhail Amin
Published: Sep 29, 2020 9:19 AM  | 3 min read
IPL 2020

The ongoing season of the Indian Premier League has been a huge challenge for all the stakeholders, courtesy the pandemic.

We have reported how even long-term sponsors maintained a distance this season and how the league had to settle for a 50 per cent lesser sponsorship revenue. 

Now, with the tournament gaining pace some industry players say it is not too late for brands to review their marketing strategies. The last-minute onboarding and the Covid-induced challenges seem to have caught some brands in the wrong foot.   

According to Roshan Abbas, Managing Director, Encompass and Co-founder Kommune, one of the reasons could be a number of these brands advertising for the first time on TV. With fewer creative variations in brand messaging this year, there could be early fatigue among customers, he pointed out.

“The tight timelines left little scope for even big productions. I used to love the Vodafone campaigns and they would have so many iterations that you never got bored. I also feel there is too much of Dhoni and brands are not even using him differently.”

Meanwhile, Sharat Dhall, COO, Policybazaar.com, says brands spending ad dollars this year are looking at IPL from the perspective of building a reach and not utilising the full potential of the sporting event.

"Over the years the most synonymous names around IPL have been the ZooZoos and we are surely missing them this season. Earlier, we saw a lot of brands creating stories and building the category for themselves. But this year more brands are looking at IPL as a tactical tool to build reach rather than harnessing the complete potential of the property. This approach is giving most of the campaigns the same tonality. Brands need to understand that it is a long property and we are not in a normal world scenario and story-telling plus media planning needs to take the same into account. Consumers are now looking for an escape more than ever and thus a disruptive campaign will stand out."

Abbas further says there is a lack of messaging in terms of the pandemic. “When it comes to creativity and ideation nobody seems to have looked at the fact that we are in the middle of a pandemic and there should have been something in messaging at least that could have referred to it.”

For Samyukta Ganesh Iyer, Head of Marketing, Baskin Robbins, the extravagance and the effectiveness of campaigns is missing due to Covid-enforced timelines.

However, brands need a pat on their back too as Iyer points out, “Ad film production is still taking place under all Covid restrictions. Brands are also opting to wait and watch given the times and may innovate at some point. IPL has definitely kick-started the media economy and its allied industries after a stuttering 2020.”

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