Lights & floodlights: What does IPL coinciding with festive season mean for ad spending?

Top media planners say the Indian Premier League coming along with the festival season is expected to boost ad spends and lift consumer sentiments that have been subdued this year due to the pandemic

e4m by Misbaah Mansuri
Updated: Aug 10, 2020 8:00 AM
IPL 2020

With businesses taking a beating and consumer sentiments remaining subdue through the year owing to the COVID-19 pandemic, all eyes are now on the Indian Premier League. The tournament is scheduled from September 19 to November 10 in the UAE and will be held across Dubai, Abu Dhabi and Sharjah.

However, as the property coincides with the festive season, the big question now is - will this be an added incentive or will it cut into the festive advertising pie?

Top media planners have pinned their hopes on the festival of lights and the floodlights. IPL coinciding with the festive season is more likely to push up the advertising spends and bring in the much-needed cheer to the market, contend many.

Ashish Bhasin, Chief Executive, Asia-Pacific, and Chairman, India, at Dentsu Aegis Network, says IPL coinciding with the festive season is added incentive for a sentiment-driven market like India. “Overall, it's a positive thing. I don’t believe in this thing called V-shaped recovery. I believe that every month it is just getting a little better, gradually. In fact, I believe IPL will be a mood elevator. Overall 40-45% of advertising spends happen between the Ganpati festival and New Year. Approximately, Rs 30,000 crore is spent in this period during a normal year. So it’s great that IPL is happening at this time. India is a very sentiment-driven market. When the sentiment is good people do advertise. When it’s not, people opt to refrain from advertising. So you need something that brings in cheer. It’s been a good monsoon so far so even rural demand is likely to pick up. Hence, IPL, coupled with festive fervour, in some way might just mark the start of normality,” Bhasin explained.

Echoing the sentiments was Navin Khemka, CEO, MediaCom South Asia. He remarked that IPL during the festive season will only boost spending. “IPL and the festive season will provide a consistent high reach platform for advertisers who want to make the best of the season in this tough year. This season could see a longer list of advertisers and categories on the property as compared to the traditional April/May season.”

The Indian Premier League, a Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) property, had earned broadcaster Star India advertising revenues of over Rs 2,000 crore in 2019. Mohit Joshi, MD – India, Havas Media Group, cautions that this is a unique year and should not be compared to past years. However, he is optimistic about the festive and IPL clash. “The principles applied in the last many years don’t hold good this year. The March-June quarter has been a washout for all and in my view all marketing teams are re-booting their marketing plans now (obviously with realistic cautions and constraints). In my view, IPL will provide a great opportunity for brands to create an impactful visibility and will only add to the marketing spends that would have otherwise happened in the festive season.”

As many as 246 brands advertised during IPL 2019, according to data provided by the Broadcast Audience Research Council India (BARC). Also, 158 brands advertised during the live broadcast of IPL matches and also during match highlights.

Gautam Surath, Senior Vice President, Starcom, has a different take. He observes that while IPL could take away 15% of the total festive spends, it is also critical to increase the overall advertising spending.
“Every year, festive spending is usually 10-15% higher than the previous months. Let’s assume that the two months of the festive share in a normal year would be about Rs 16,000 crore. IPL in a given year would garner around Rs 2000 to 2500 crore stake. Hence, the direct impact here will mean that IPL shall take away 15% of the total festive spends,” he said.

However, Surath noted that 2020 has not been like the usual years. “With lockdown extending every month due to the COVID-19 situation, consumer sentiments have been a bit low. Until we hit normalcy, it doesn’t seem that the festive spends will be any closer to the years gone by. Some sectors like travel, hospitality and retail will not recover even by festive ads, meaning that we will definitely see muted spending. However, IPL has the ability to bring back positive sentiments and some feeling of normalcy. Viewership is guaranteed to be higher than usual, and advertisers will get a large bang for the buck. Overall, we can expect that IPL can claim a large portion of the festive pie, as compared to the past years. But, IPL is also critical to increase overall ad spends during festivals. If things move on the right track, this can provide a much-needed impetus and revive the investment in advertising,” he added.

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