IPL really works so we called for multi-team, multi-player approach: Gurpreet Singh, UBL

TV and digital together accounts for our overall IPL sponsorship, and that forms about 60 per cent of our ad spends, says Singh, Divisional Vice President – Marketing, United Breweries Ltd

e4m by Misbaah Mansuri
Updated: Jan 24, 2019 8:09 AM

With the likes of Kingfisher Strong, Kingfisher Premium, Heineken, United Breweries Ltd (UBL) has some leading brands in its portfolio, straddling various consumer needs and price-points. With 53 per cent share and volume, that is twice that of its closest competitor, the brand seems to be doing just right. 

In a conversation with exchange4media, Gurpreet Singh, Divisional Vice President – Marketing, UBL talks about foraying into the non-alcoholic segment with the launch of Radler, the brand’s association with the upcoming Indian Derby 2019 and its big marketing plans for IPL. 

Edited excerpts below:

How does your association with the Derby fit in your overall marketing plan?
The Kingfisher Ultra Derby is now in its fourth year of association. Over the years, we have got a bit of the learning curve on what’s working and what’s not.  As a brand, we are trying to bring on board our connection with the younger audience. So we are trying to bring this crowd into the Derby fold as well. Through us and our various associations, the youth is very connected to us and this is due to our association with cricket, music, films, etc. So we are trying to use the digital media to pull that crowd.

What are your big marketing plans for IPL this year?
IPL really works. It’s like hitting a nail on the head. It’s peak summer, peak time for our business. And it’s cricket, which means it reaches out to everyone. Also the IPL format is extremely glamorous. That’s layer above layer, which is why it is a tick in the box for the brand. We will have a multi-team, multi-player approach. We will be present with our association with few of our teams at the stadiums and will advertise through our brand extensions.

There is very little, other than sports, which connects with the masses. More importantly, with the youth of the country. Cricket and Bollywood are the two things that sell everything. The rest unfortunately falls in the peripheries. So, we have a very deep-rooted association with cricket. We’ve had various cricketers as brand ambassadors over the years and have a steady relationship with the IPL teams. And while they are divided by teams and countries, Kingfisher and its association unites them together. So we stay committed to our association with it.

Which sport gets the maximum investment? Is it still cricket?
Yes, it’s still cricket. Due to the reach and deliveries on television, as well as on live matches. But if you want to touch different sections of the society, you also need to stay involved with other sporting interests. Being premium, Derby, fashion events etc., fit very well and have been an integral part of our strategy. With Kingfisher, we also use music in a big way. 

We use TV as a major means to advertise, followed by digital. We are one of the outliers and we spend 25 per cent of all that we do on media on digital.

Can you tell us about your percentage spends across different mediums?
On media, we spend 20-25 per cent on digital. TV plus digital owns our overall IPL sponsorship that forms about 60 per cent. The rest goes on sponsorship of teams and ground events.

Could you tell us a bit about your current agency relationships?
Our primary agency JWT has been handling Kingfisher for the last 25 years, the mother brand of the portfolio. Publicis handles some of our premium portfolios like Kingfisher Ultra and Heineken. We have two more agencies at work with us: Triton and McCann that handles Radler. We got McCann recently on board.

With the recent launch of Radler, what was the idea behind tapping in the non-alcoholic market?
We were interested in Radler and its launch because there is a large section of the society today which consumes non-alcoholic drinks. We wanted to play with that space.

In 2019, what are the points of interest we’re going to see marketing spends on?
I think as an industry, people are going to be spending in a combination of being on media and on ground. Sporting events will comprise a large part of on-ground spends, followed by music which over the years has become very big in India too. 


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