Indian Super League: A hotbed of innovative brand activation opportunities

Year after year, ISL enables brands to create unique and impactful experiences with technological innovations

e4m by Archana Khatri Das
Updated: Oct 29, 2021 11:54 AM
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India’s biggest homegrown football league, Indian Super League is back with the 8th season starting 19th November. The fifth biggest football league in the world in terms of viewership, ISL has over 130 million dedicated fans across geographies. The sport with a 150-year-old history has found new energy with the passion of the new fan following. It’s not just men, even women and children enjoy the game with the same passion. As per TAM data, around 57% of the total viewers in the first edition of the league were children and women.

The broadcast reach has fanned the passion of ISL fans. Today the sport is telecast across 80 plus countries. The organizers of the game have amplified the entertainment quotient for the fans resulting in more fans getting hooked on to the league every year. Despite the fact that the tournament was played in a bio-bubble last year, and no fans were allowed in the stadium due to the pandemic, the league witnessed an uptick in the overall viewership by 16% compared to the previous season.

The secret behind the incredible fan followership of ISL in a short span of just about 7-8 years lies in the innovation that the league has introduced at every possible occasion. In fact, numerous brands have lapped up those occasions to bring their motto to life through different innovations.

Leveraging the power of technology, Maruti Suzuki created a virtual fan wall during Season 6 in 2019 that live-streamed selected ISL fans on the perimeter board in real-time and the selected fans enjoyed the match from the comfort of their homes as a part of their ‘Be Limitless’ initiative to promote their hatchback, Swift. The brand achieved an Overall Sponsorship Impact of +35% with +29% of uplift on Key Brand Metrics.

DHL and Star Sports brought in the concept of contactless delivery and innovation in the last season of ISL by delivering the official match ball to the center of the pitch using a Drone. DHL has been associated with ISL for the past five editions which have given the brand a high ROI taking into consideration brand visibility, uplift, and affinity over the years.

“We’ve amplified our association to the fans and customers through unique ways every year. From co-branding our delivery vans to getting fans to deliver the match ball, we’ve tied in our brand promise of ‘Excellence. Simply Delivered’ to the sport. ISL has given us a high ROI taking into consideration brand visibility, uplift, affinity, and other business metrics”, says Sandeep Juneja - Vice President, Sales, and Marketing – DHL.

With Star Sports having access to on-ground branding opportunities, they allow brands to create innovative integrations that stand out and deliver great results. These innovations make sure that fans do not miss out on the action and at the same time lend brand amplification opportunity to advertisers.

ISL has created a vast room for brands to connect with fans’ fervour for football and improve brand recall. It has allowed people to step into their living rooms to connect with brands that advertise during ISL matches every year.

Fans can catch the action LIVE and that can be a win-win situation for not just fans but the brands too. TV still gives undisputed reach for any brand, and with the ISL commentary broadcast in five languages, it allows brands to connect with the league's passionate football fans, who love the game and also helps to attract potential fans across the targeted geography.

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