How the Premier League has emerged as a compelling marketing solution for advertisers

The Premier League, the most popular football league that runs across two-thirds of the year, has established itself as a unique marketing platform for brands to reach premium audiences

e4m by Christina Moniz
Updated: Jul 27, 2021 2:39 PM
Premier League Star advert

The 30th season of the Premier League is set to commence on August 14, and viewers across the country are gearing up for some thrilling football action over the nine month duration of the league. As per Premier League estimates, there are 155 million Indians tracking their teams and players with some top teams like Manchester United, Chelsea, Liverpool and Manchester City having their own fan clubs spread across key Indian cities as well as tier II and III regions. With a surging target audience, advertisers today see tremendous merit in associating with the Premier League. Additionally, the brand positivity demonstrated by fans as per the GlobalWebIndex report during the last season has encouraged multiple categories of advertisers to leverage the property and build strong associative value. 

Cashing in on a premium audience

There are multiple reasons why marketers today are leveraging the massively popular Premier League, as Kishan Kumar Shyamalan, Chief Growth Officer, Wavemaker India observes. “The English Premier League is the world’s largest football league and over the last few years has gained huge momentum in India. It is one of the most premium impact properties which also runs across two-thirds of the year. The Premier League core audience is predominantly urban, male skewed and from the higher NCCS clusters. The average age would be around 30 years, but the league has a good mix of viewers across age groups, young and middle aged, alike. The league has also spread its popularity beyond metros, which makes it even more attractive,” notes Shyamalan. 

The property provides ample scope for brands across the spectrum to build equity among their target consumers, especially considering it runs from August 14, 2021 until May 22, 2022. This is perhaps best demonstrated in the kind of value that smartphone brands have derived through their association with the league over the past seasons. In fact, research has shown that for smartphone brands that have associated over the years with the league, there has been positive resonance among fans not just for their core product category of phones but also for other segments like TVs and home appliances. To put this in perspective, research has shown that Premier League viewers are 1.4x more likely to choose electronic appliances of past associated brands compared to general population. Likewise, four-wheeler and two-wheeler advertisers have benefited over the years from a positive brand advocacy among Premier League viewers, who named Premier League associated brands among their top three auto brands of choice. Shyamalan perhaps describes the Premier League viewer best when he says, “The property’s audience is a great congregation of premium millennials who are also passionate fans of their favourite teams, according to GlobalWebIndex. They follow a premium lifestyle, own vehicles, are financially forward, own credit cards and have clear brand choices.” 

Opportunities for advertisers across categories

Over its past 29 seasons, the Premier League has established itself as a lucrative and highly effective property for brands across categories like auto, electronics, smartphones, finance, alcohol/alco-bev and e-commerce. Nearly 57% of the Premier League audience consumes beer at least once a month, research indicates and beer brands that have previously advertised on the property hold a distinct edge over others. As per the GlobalWebIndex survey, 1.95X more people chose to consume a beer brand that has associated with the league during the last season over others in the market. 

The tournament lends itself well to brands that are aiming to build affinity with more affluent audiences as Wavemaker’s Shyamalan explains. “The Premier League audience is premium millennials available at scale and any category that targets this audience must look at the league as a great platform. This works for both established, old economy brands as well as new-age, digital-first categories. The Premier League is relatively less cluttered and hence works well for brands that are looking at engaging with premium audiences with high purchase power or looking at boosting imagery to drive premiumisation of portfolios,” he remarks. The platform therefore is today demonstrating great impact for various categories of brands, including OTT players, ed-tech companies, fin-tech and fantasy sports brands. “From an advertising point of view, we get a sharp, affluent male audience watching the Premier League. There is a certain age and income demographic that's more clued in with the Premier League. It is not like IPL, which has a mass following. So, if a product is aimed at that target audience, then it's probably one of the highest impact properties to advertise your brand on,” says Nitin Khanna, Senior Director, Marketing, ACKO who is incidentally also an ardent Liverpool fan. 

An integrated marketing platform

The distinct advantage that the Premier League holds is the fact that it is spread across a nine month period, thereby allowing advertisers to leverage a host of innovations and content solutions to reach their target audience. Shyamalan also points out that long-term associations always deliver high returns as they can drive consumer engagement beyond mere advertising presence in the form of consumer interactions, social media amplifications, audience gratification via contests and many other value additions. Additionally, media agency sources tell us that broadcaster Star Sports is upping the propositions for brands this season, given the growing interest from Indian fans and advertisers alike. It has some tailored offerings for advertisers with a thematic co-branded Premier League promotion film and disruptive ad formats like Picture-in-Picture (PIP) split screen ad window during live games when the ball is not in play as well as AR graphics. 

Shyamalan points out how the PIP innovation from Star Sports proved disruptive and relevant during the Wimbledon, something advertisers should leverage during the Premier League this season. “There are innovations like the picture-in-picture format that was on display during Wimbledon that can do disruptive and contextual advertising alongside live content. The only advice to brands here would be to make it exciting and not antagonise viewers with irrelevant messaging,” he says. 

Marketers would do well to borrow from the PIP innovation that was efficiently used during the Roland Garros by auto major, Renault for the very first time in India. Speaking to exchange4media in an interview last month, Hardik Shah, Lead, Marketing Communications, Renault India Private Limited, said, “The PIP innovation helps break clutter, makes us stand out on live content, and builds association with the product (tennis), which usually is not offered in other premium sports. Though this is a classic advertising route, it puts across the message in a very subtle way without disturbing the audiences. Renault India did not play a quintessential TVC in the PIP. Rather we chose to air an association promo that strengthens our relationship with Roland Garros and tennis as a sport overall through Star Sports.” At a time when consumers are seeking ways to skip ads, this innovation provides a superlative viewing experience with minimal disruption. 

A majority of the sports fans watch matches on TV, with an added second screen to stay on top of the social media conversations with other fans. Brands can also leverage the associated broadcast properties of Premier League, which are a comprehensive marketing solution along with TV for top of the funnel awareness building. And to drive engagement further, advertisers would do well to leverage Star Sports’ varied social media solutions during the league games. One such property, Sunday Night Football which is broadcast on the Star Sports Select Channel during the prime-time slot on Sundays is 3.5X over-indexed on male urban viewership and has seen 146% growth in social chatter. This has encouraged the broadcaster to also introduce regional Bangla and Malayalam feeds to cater to the quickly growing football viewership base in these two regions. This, coupled with the addition of one more Star Sports channel for the Premier Leagues live games broadcast this year, means that advertisers could potentially reach out to an additional 15 million viewers this season.

With the economy showing definite signs of recovery and the growing trend of revenge shopping post the second wave of the pandemic, the Premier League viewer is definitely expected to show a higher predisposition towards category consumption and purchase intent, making the platform an ideal one for brands to engage with. To leverage the prevailing positive consumer sentiment, the timing is perfect for advertisers to swoop in and win consumers’ hearts, armed with the unique marketing solution that the Premier League brings to the playing field this season.

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