Mr Marketer, what's your game plan this IPL season?

Brands are allocating their media spends on the lucrative IPL and also aiming at attractive packages of Sony and Zee in order to increase reach

e4m by Madhuwanti Saha
Updated: Mar 29, 2018 9:00 AM

The symbol of all things lucrative, the next edition of the Indian Premier League is almost here and brands are all ready to make the most of the sporting platform for new launches, communications and campaigns given its reach and popularity. Now with Star India’s exhaustive telecast plan encompassing six languages, 12 channels and live streaming on digital platform Hotstar the coverage is only going to get better than ever before. But it comes at a price, that too an exorbitant one. So far, advertisers have been asked to cough up something like Rs 10 lakh per 10 seconds.

But does it really make sense for brands to exhaust all their media-spends towards just the tournament? Dinesh Vyas, Vice President at PHD, clearly pointed out that if one has a minimum budget of Rs 10 crore only then does it make sense to be on the league. “Or else it’s better to look at alternatives. It can be digital association of IPL or genres which do not really get affected by IPL viewership like a combination of Hindi movies, Hindi and English news channels,” he said.
To counter the IPL fever about to undoubtedly grip the nation, Sony Entertainment Television is now offering its high- impact properties like ‘Dus Ka Dum’ and ‘Family Time with Kapil Sharma’ at attractive rates. Zee Unimedia, the ad-sales subsidiary of Zee Entertainment Enterprises Ltd, has presented special customised sponsorship packages offering brands an opportunity to associate with a combination of top-performing shows and pick up ad-inventory across the group’s network of 40 channels. The idea is to offer brands a reach similar to that of  IPL but at a 30-40 per cent lesser rate. Ashish Sehgal, Chief Operating Officer, Zee Unimedia even revealed that their offering complements the IPL package as brands can now buy spots both on the league and also on Zee thereby getting the best of both worlds. 
With IPL directly affecting primetime viewership of Hindi GECs, as seen in the past, Vyas observed that as a result channels are open to negotiating ad rates across genres.
But with so much to offer, what are media planners advising brands?

Vikas Mehta, CEO, Pointnine Lintas, had a word of caution for brands on the possibility of burning a large share of their annual media spends in the first few weeks and getting lost in the crowd eventually. He said, “We are recommending IPL for brands seeking reach, scale and stature at an accelerated pace. For clients, who are more efficiency driven, we are advising them to stick to the more ‘prudent’ buys and treat IPL as a spectator sport.”

Godrej Appliances is not looking at a team tie-up at this stage because of the staggering prices. According to Swati Rathi, Head Of Marketing, Godrej Appliances, it varies on the brief that brands are trying to serve. She shared that no brand is restricted by one complete solution today, saying, “I can choose to skip the entire season and target my audience through a mix of digital and BTL also. On some categories we may choose to ride on the IPL fever or maybe not on other categories. It’s still the early days. We are evaluating the IPL and are still taking a call based on category.”

The deep-pocketed brands like handset manufacturers will opt for a combination of IPL and surround with other channels. But there are those who don’t have that kind of money as Anita Nayyar, CEO India & South Asia, Havas Media Group noted, saying, “For them packages offered by Zee and Sony will come handy. In fact this is nothing new. Star too used to come out with special packages when Sony had IPL.” 
In fact brands are also in talks with Star India to figure out different packages. Primarily it depends on the budget and objective. In fact brands can bank on both IPL and Hindi GECs by allotting a major chunk of the budget on the former and rest on the latter. “This way they are able to target the women audience as well,” added Nayyar.

Meanwhile Havells is associated with SET’s weekend property, ‘Family Time with Kapil Sharma’ with Lloyd air-conditioner being its cooling partner. Amit Tiwari, Vice President Marketing, Havells India, said, “The idea is to take maximum mileage on weekends as it’s a weekend programme. These properties give a lot of tentpole proposition in the entire scheme of things." When it comes to IPL, Tiwari mentioned that it depends on what one needs to fulfil from it. “You have to draw a necessity index for your particular brand. Can you do a good amount of impact without IPL? It all depends on how you want to put your particular investments,” he said.

But for brands like United Breweries-owned Kingfisher whose core TG is male audience between 25 and 35, concentrating on IPL alone works as the season for chilled chugs of beer coincides with the League's timing just perfectly. The brand has associated with the IPL since inception with its creatives featuring all the players, something which has worked brilliantly for the brand in the past in terms of brand association and brand recall.
Samar Singh Sheikhawat, Chief Marketing Officer, United Breweries, shared this year’s plan, saying, “This year we will be on IPL live across all channels and Hotstar. We also have a large regional plan across non-Star networks. This year we have associated with five teams in terms of sponsorship. We have taken up two teams in cricket sort of barter deals. So 50 per cent of our spends will go on IPL live. The balance will go in terms of surround plan that we have around IPL including non-Star bouquet and regional channels. Our IPL film (shot with players) will run across all eight channels.”

Sheikhawat was very much aware that the ad rates will go up hence they opted to reduce the length of its commercial to match the exposure, reach and frequency of last year. “We are matching last year’s intensity,” he said.

But at the end of the day, brands will have to make a choice as money is a finite entity, as Vyas concluded.

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