Brand owners edgy as SC observations add to IPL credibility crisis

With the Supreme Court asking BCCI Chairman N Srinivasan to step down for a transparent and fair probe, will the implications affect marketing traction towards the IPL? Marketers share their views

e4m by Abhinav Trivedi
Updated: Mar 26, 2014 8:45 AM
Brand owners edgy as SC observations add to IPL credibility crisis

With the Supreme Court asking BCCIChairman NSrinivasan to step down for a transparent and fair probe, will the implications affect marketing traction towards the Indian Premier League?

People associated with the tournament and close to developments insist that the step is positive and does send good signals to the marketing community, but at the same time does not guarantee results and therefore the notion of optimism does not necessarily indicate conversions.

Gurunath Meyiappan, Chairman of CSK and son-in-law of the BCCI Chairman was allegedly involved in betting during the IPL last year. Three players of Rajasthan Royals and the owner of the franchise,Raj Kundra, were also reportedly involved in the fixing scam last year.

Brands associated with franchises whose name appeared in the fixing scam were also questioned by the police during investigation last year. However BCCI’ own two member panel had exonerated Meyipaan against any charges.

Marketers and analysts we spoke to believe that IPL this year has comparatively low traction primarily due to shift in the venue, general elections, and fixing charges still haunting the tournament. The clout and people’s attention is more towards the Lok sabha elections this year.

Nitish Tipnis, CMO, Nissan remarked, “The credibility of the tournament has gone down certainly. Fixing allegations do not only raise a doubt in the consumer’s mind but even compels advertisers to think twice before getting associated with the tournament. Momentary suspicion regarding every action during the match arises in people’s mind. I believe that the decision taken by the Apex court might reinstate the trust, but a lot more needs to be done. I think fixing allegations can dampen on-ground advertising this year.”He, however, clarified that the above view is his personal and will not necessarily be of Nissan.

Sanjay Gopalakrishnan, AVP-Marketing, Fiat said “The decision of the Apex court is an attempt to cleanse the process which is welcome. A brand would like to get associated with clean tournaments, but this year IPL in general has been on and off. Ifs and buts have been a part of the conversation involving IPL. Apart from this elections have overshadowed the tournament this year. Fixing allegations will definitely have an impact on advertising. Local brands will think before investing. Global majors like Pepsi might be ok with advertising in venues outside India, but not local brands. I believe that on ground advertising will take a jolt bigger than on air”.

Some media planners however mentioned that fixing allegations will always be there and marketers buy eyeballs. The traction of advertisers will be less in initial stages but would gain momentum in the final stages of the tournament, which will be played in India. Srinivasan’s decision, according to them will not have a direct impact over investment on TV.

BFSI sector is expected to increase spends this year, especially on sports. However, Anisha Motwani, CMO, Max Life Insurance, said “We are skeptical as far as IPL is concerned. It is a good signal that judiciary is keen on cleaning the tournament but a lot more needs to be done. On ground advertising will remain tentative and teams which are sponsored by brands have been put to question. This creates an atmosphere of tentativeness”.

Some marketers on condition of anonymity from other sectors which have advertised on ground heavily during IPL earlier have also indicated that on ground advertising contracts during IPL are not honored properly anyways. They however mentioned that this has got more to do with the wide format of the event as maintaining every single clause becomes very difficult both for the organizers and the brand.

Conversations also reveal that on-air advertising will not be much affected .The average rate of inventory pitched for the tournament this year is between 4.7 and 5 lakhs  by the broadcaster.   In an earlier interaction with e4m, Rohit Gupta, president MSM had said “The sentiment of investment this year is good. We are also getting some new categories on board this year. We have sold almost 40 per cent of our inventory. The reason why brands invest on IPL is because the risk is minimised and the reach has been maximizing over the last few years. Since the clarity over the schedule and venue of the matches is there now we expect the sentiment to bounce further.”

However, this year BCCIhas ensured through various measures that tournament remains clear and the judiciary is also expected to keep a close eye on the tournament this time. By the time of filing this report three BCCI Vice Presidents had reportedly joined former cricketers and administrators in asking Srinivasan to respect the Apex court observation and therefore should step down for a fair probe into the IPL fixing scandal.

The step taken by the Apex Court is a signal in the positive direction, but for marketers’,the results matter.

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