‘My11Circle became the 2nd most preferred Fantasy Cricket brand, on the back of IPL’

If one wants to grow in India by associating with sports, nothing works better than IPL on TV, said Saroj Panigrahi, VP, My11Circle

e4m by Raushni Bhagia
Published: Mar 12, 2021 8:22 AM  | 7 min read

In a tête-à-tête with Saroj Panigrahi, VP and Avik Das Kanungo, Director, Brand and Marketing Strategy, My11Circle - the fantasy sports platform of Games24x7, we discussed how tapping TV advertising during IPL gave the brand a much-required boost in terms of awareness, app traffic and even registered user base. When the cricketing stalwarts like Saurav Ganguly, Shane Watson and Rashid Khan are playing in your team, you ought to win the game, says the brand. Here’s more about ‘Play With Champions’ campaign and the strategy.

Entering the market as the 10th player in your industry with a pre-established leadership chart is probably one of the most difficult situations to be in. As a new kid on the block, there is too much to prove and too little time to do it. My11Circle, launched by Games 24x7 in 2019 was in a similar position. Looking to build its brand and strengthening awareness simultaneously, seemed like a herculean task. Many brainstorming sessions later, the unique proposition of ‘Play With Champions’ did give them a sigh of relief. While the expert trio – Saurav Ganguly, Shane Watson and Rashid Khan - was working well for them in their smaller market segments, they wanted to make it big, and soon. 

“Our endeavour was to take this proposition to as many people as possible, through mass messaging and that’s where TV fits the best. We also used digital, but TV was going to help us in creating a buzz and reaching a wider audience. IPL and fantasy cricket has a 100% overlap in TG and that’s how we made sure that IPL on TV was a major part of our media mix. Our objective to reach existing and prospective users was completely met with IPL on TV,” said Saroj Panigrahi, VP, My11Circle.

IPL 2020 was unique. With festive timing, long gap of live sports and people stuck at home due to COVID, Panigrahi said that they expected it to be the biggest IPL of all times. This, hence, became the obvious vehicle to take the Play With Champions proposition to the massive audience.

Avik Das Kanungo, Director, Brand and Marketing Strategy, My11Circle, delved deeper into this strategic decision, “IPL over the years has and will continue to be one of the biggest events on TV and will keep attracting brands and viewers from all sectors. For a consumer-facing digital company like ours, we wanted to reach the huge audience of IPL to ensure building brand recall, over and above the existing leaders. However, we had to optimise spends, too.”

Unlike an automobile or electronic item purchase, gaming is a more impulsive decision that doesn’t necessarily require research. Users can always have more than one and can easily try the newer brands. “Within a 60-day long tourney, users often try different brands. Soon, we became the preferred second brand, if not the most preferred,” added Panigrahi. 

Since Dream11 is the title sponsor for the tournament, it restricted My11Circle from doing any content integrations on IPL on TV. However, that didn’t stop the brand from innovating and being creative. My11Circle majorly ran ad-spots during the live matches. These were strategically aligned to meet their requirements. They also bought spots closer to the match and made creatives to suit that particular timing. “We planned it throughout and shot ads and placed them in a way that the visuals in the ad resembled the scenarios in the match. So, we had a different commercial to run right before the toss and it was shot in the atmosphere of the toss. It hit the psyche of my viewer at the correct point,” explained Kanungo.

The ad films were conceptualised and executed by Spring Marketing Capital.

IPL is a universal property that has a plethora of advertisers, right from automobile, soaps, food and everything under the sun. “We, as a fantasy cricket company, are the closest relative of live cricket and the original content resonates so well with our brand! We tried to make the most of our ability to use sports content to reach the audience,” said Panigrahi.

This is where creating differentiation was also crucial, to stay away from the clutter and to not add to the noise of other players in the industry. Arun Iyer, Founding Partner, Spring Marketing Capital, said, “India being the cricket crazy nation that it is, has a huge population that feels like experts in the field. Indians have an opinion on everything, right from the batting order, to fielding strategies to the pitch quality. We used that. Now, for a product that was completely about cricket, IPL made the most sense. However, IPL on TV is a busy space as no brand wants to stay away from it. Hence, we wanted to stand out through the creatives. That’s when we finalised this approach of challenging the champions.”

The brand also sponsors some other live cricketing events like the Big Bash League, Lanka Premiere League, India matches from India-Australia series and few others. 

“If you want to grow in India by associating with sports, nothing works better than IPL on TV. There are many people who start watching cricket through IPL, or many others who only watch IPL. It is a continuous 60-day format that fits very well with our fantasy league offering. Users get to engage with the platform for a longer period of time and that stickiness helps. It is a wonderful combination of entertainment and sports, which is what we stand for,” added Panigrahi. 

While TV is a mass reach platform and that’s what the brand aimed at, their creatives were made keeping in mind the 25-40 years males as that is the core audience base for the brand. 90% of the users are males, however, the female segments are growing too. Around 60% of the yearly budget of 2020 was spent on this campaign. It was a big 360-degree campaign for the brand. However, it must be remembered that 2020 was a dry year because of COVID - 19.

Speaking about the impact of the campaign, Panigrahi said, “IPL outdid our expectations by all parameters. Our app traffic grew over 1000% from pre-IPL to IPL. The total player registrations during IPL 2020 grew eight times compared to IPL 2019, taking the current user base to 17 mn registered users. While the Indian fantasy sports industry is growing at 32% CAGR, My11Circle's revenue grew over 300% during 2020, making it the fastest-growing major fantasy platform in India. In IPL live matches on TV, our ads clocked a 4.71 TVR across the channels for male 22-60 ABC for urban India and for BBL, which is the Australian T20 league we gathered about 1.25 TVR for the same set of audience. IPL is a sure-shot winner on TV. Our search volumes increased over 10x pre and during IPL.” 

When asked about why the brand focused completely on IPL in that quarter, Panigrahi said that IPL anyway eats into the viewership of many other genres. He explained, “All the cricket audience are spending almost four hours a day on TV, watching IPL. That is quite high, by any norms. Now, this doesn’t really leave them with a lot of time to watch anything else on TV. We wanted to focus on the biggest and we achieved that with IPL.”

Based on their experience with advertising on IPL, Kanungo suggested that brands lay out clear objectives before approaching the biggest carnival of cricket. “Secondly, you must have clutter-breaking creatives. Else, you will end up adding to the noise. Lastly, you must think about completing the funnel. Use IPL properly. Don’t hop on to it, because it looks fancy in your media mix.”

The brand, having got amazing ROI in IPL 2020 is all set to associate with IPL 2021 with a bigger and better campaign, more ad spends, and an aim to reach more people.


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