Summer of 2019: A scorcher for brands

IPL, General Elections and the ongoing Cricket World Cup saw brands push the marketing envelope with an estimated Rs 10,000-11,000 crore spent on advertising, making 2019 summer a sizzling one

e4m by Christina Moniz & Beryl Menezes
Published: Jun 17, 2019 8:15 AM  | 18 min read

There are certain things that define an Indian summer; mangoes, an ice ‘gola’ by the beachside, summer holidays at a hill station or just a cool glass of buttermilk. Our summer months are typically replete with memories of at least one of these things, if not more. 

Over the years, summers have become synonymous with the season for cricket, thanks to the Indian Premier League (IPL) frenzy. In many ways, the summer of 2019 has been no ordinary season. While most of us were looking for ways to escape the searing temperatures, a huge majority of brands recognised this as a season of big opportunity! From the IPL and the general elections to the ICC World Cup and the release of big entertainers such as Avengers: Endgame and Game of Thrones, this year’s summer gave brands many reasons to cheer. 

Ashish Bhasin, Chairman & CEO - Greater South, Dentsu Aegis Network puts the ad spends by brands between the months of April and May this year in the region of Rs 10,000-Rs 11,000 crore. “Summer marketing spends have increased by about 10 per cent over last year. This year, the IPL is almost instantaneously being followed by the World Cup so I expect that the brands who have a summer theme campaign to run will probably be also considering cricket in a big way,” he says. 

While the summer season typically entails an increase in spends among certain categories like cold beverages, travel and electronics, Indian summers can no longer be viewed in isolation. Pointing out the importance of media properties, Shekhar Banerjee, Head (West), Wavemaker India, says: “While there are categories that still leverage the summer weather like beverages and fashion, there are also brands targeting kids on vacation. The largest trend is brand advertising led by media properties such as the IPL during summer. These three merge to make summer the most important quarter of the year.” 

Here’s a look at how brands from categories such as food & beverages, travel, electronics, retail, lifestyle and entertainment pushed the marketing envelope during the summer of 2019.

Food & Beverages

There was a time when every summer meant endless visuals of colas and ice-cream sticks. The past few years have seen a few changes in the way food and beverage manufacturers have ramped up their portfolio of cool products. 

One such manufacturer is Parle Agro, with campaigns for Frooti and Appy Fizz in full throttle to grab consumer mindshare. Nadia Chauhan, Joint MD & CMO, Parle Agro, says, “We kickstarted our summer campaigns for Appy Fizz and Frooti in March, and are following a 360-degree approach with strong reflections on TV, Digital, OOH and Print. With aggressive strategies across our sales and distribution system, pricing and packaging too are playing a big role for the brand this summer.” Parle Agro has signed on actor Allu Arjun for Frooti in the South and Junior NTR as ambassador for Appy Fizz in the South region making its commitment to the market very clear. 

Mayank Kumar, Head of Marketing- Foods, Dabur India, says that the brand has expanded the Real Juice portfolio this summer with the addition of the new masala range. “Post the successful test launch of Masala Guava and Masala Pomegranate, the masala range is being further strengthened with the addition of two new variants, Masala Mixed Fruit and Masala Aam Panna,” says Kumar. In the light of new launches and increased demand, the company is spending most of its budget on TV this summer, supplemented by increased spends on Digital. 

Another brand that has had a series of product launches this summer is dairy giant Amul. RS Sodhi, Managing Director, Amul says, “The season has begun very well for us with the month of April being much hotter than last year. Overall, we have already seen a good 18-20 per cent volume growth. From our annual advertising budget, we use about 40-50 per cent of our spends in the months of April, May and June.” 

Amul has also joined hands with the Afghanistan cricket team as principal sponsor for ICC World Cup. “With cricket being such a craze in the subcontinent and the ICC World Cup being the biggest event the sport sees, we wanted to seize the opportunity to associate with the tournament,” he adds. 

Apart from Amul, brands like Baskin Robbins, Kwality Walls and Havmor are also capitalising on the season with new ice-cream flavours, captivating consumers with innovative campaigns. “Baskin Robbins India has gone live on national television in India after nearly two decades. As a brand, the opportunity to reach out to over 100 million Indians is both exciting and full of new possibilities. During the IPL season, we gave our parlours a complete fresh fruit make-over right from our external façade branding to our outdoor innovations,” says Samyukta Ganesh Iyer, Head of Marketing, Baskin Robbins India, adding that the brand spends about 80 per cent of its marketing budget on summer advertising. For Havmor, the summer months bring in approximately 60 per cent of the annual business and that is reflected in the brand’s marketing spends as well. 

“We have allocated 6.5-7 per cent of our annual turnover towards marketing. TV still gets the major share of the pie, though our advertising on digital and events have significantly increased,” says Vincent Noronha, Vice President-Marketing, Havmor Ice-Cream. 

While ice-creams and fruity beverages may well be the flavour of the season, what’s an Indian summer without the familiar sight of Kingfisher’s chilled beers? This summer, United Breweries Limited (UBL) has gone national with its non-alcoholic drink, Kingfisher Radler. The new product leveraged IPL both on TV and Hotstar as its main communication platform. Ramesh Vishwanathan, Chief of New Business Development, UBL says. “We spend close to 50 per cent of our marketing budget in summer. While the aim of Kingfisher Radler is to be a relevant proposition to people who don’t consume alcohol, we expect Kingfisher Beer to continue its upward growth trajectory with its popular sub-brands Kingfisher Premium, Kingfisher Strong, Kingfisher Ultra and Kingfisher Storm,” Vishwanathan said, adding that the beer business is expected to grow at 10 per cent in volumes this summer. 

Vivek Bhargava, CEO, DAN Performance Group provides some perspective to the summer madness. “The IPL, ICC World Cup and elections have definitely given a boost to the summer spending. To give you some context, each IPL team gets Rs 25-Rs 30 crore on an average as sponsorship money. This is the time for companies to launch products and services and make the most of the frenzy,” he says.  

Retail & Apparel
There are two things every summer brings to the Indian advertising industry - the dual focus of traditionally summer season-focused brands and the Indian Premier League (IPL). This time around, the elections and the release of big entertainers like Avengers: Endgame have made the season even more interesting, says Varun Duggirala, Co-Founder & Content Chief, The Glitch. 

“Summer campaigns used to have a massive share of FMCG companies focussed on the weather, but that share has definitely gone down with other categories like tech and e-commerce taking a large chunk of the pie. The campaigns that really stood out for me were the ‘Don’t spoil the endgame’ one for Avengers: Endgame and Hotstar’s campaign for Game of Thrones,” he says. 

One brand that leveraged the Game of Thrones hype in a big way is Fastrack. “The biggest talking point across the globe this summer was Game of Thrones. We were the official merchandise partner and have introduced a range of products for the fans - watches, bags and sunglasses,” says Ayushman Chiranewala, Marketing Head, Fastrack, Titan Company Limited. He adds that the brand is taking an aggressive stance this summer with 20 per cent of its annual marketing budget devoted to this season’s initiatives. Chiranewala says Fastrack is aiming for double-digit growth this season. 

While some brands like Bata and United Colours of Benetton encouraged consumers to vote, some others like Shoppers Stop leveraged occasions like Mother’s Day. The brand invited customers to spread the love by bringing their mothers to the store and giving away sarees they don’t use anymore. Uma Talreja, Chief of Marketing and Customer Officer, Shoppers Stop says, “Print is a lead medium for retail. However, as Digital has become a very prominent part of our strategy, our spends between our e-commerce platform and digital marketing are reaching close to 35 per cent of our total spends now, while Print remains our largest pie of ad spends.” 

In agreement with Talreja is Brand Factory CMO Roch D’Souza, who relies on both Print and Digital for the various summer campaigns the company has rolled out. “Print is an announcement medium for us. Digital is largely the second medium for us where we spend a lot of money these days. So, the split is around the two,” D’Souza explains. 

Another brand that is focusing on the summer is sunglasses brand RayBan. The company has recently launched its new communication platform #ProudToBelong by putting the spotlight on moments that connect humans. 

“In India, we see a big opportunity. Online will continue to play a very important role, so the right digital and social media strategy will be key not just in terms of pure advertising, but especially in terms of story-telling,” says Alessandro Chiarelli, Ray-Ban Director (Luxottica Group). 

Another eyewear brand Coolwinks has also rolled out an initiative that enables consumers to select suitable lenses according to their lifestyle using an AI lens selection tool. Ganesh Iyer, CEO, Coolwinks says: “About 20% of the annual marketing budget is currently being diverted to summer marketing. Our spends are across TV, Outdoor, Digital and Experiential.” 

Summer fashion choices bring in volumes of colour and vibrancy in one’s wardrobe. Fashion brand fbb has brought in campaigns employing influencers and personalised content that have kept the buzz going for the company throughout the summer. 

Prachi Mohapatra, CMO, fbb says, “The season opened with the biggest cricket property IPL and our association continues for the third year in a row now. We are into the pre-finale stage of the 2019 fbb Femina Miss India, which has also been a fruitful association for the brand.” 

Pantaloons has unveiled the ‘Holiday in Style’ campaign. Ryan Fernandes, VP – Marketing and e-commerce, Pantaloons (ABFRL) says: “We have committed close to 20 per cent of the annual spends for summer, which has allowed us to get a good 360-degree presence. We will be present on shows like American Idol, and have also released the campaign in cinemas during the release of Avengers: Endgame.” 

Another brand that leveraged the Avengers release and vacation season was Max Fashion. “Every year we engage with more than three lakh kids across India during this season, and this year we are looking to take it to the next level. This year, we were proud to be associated with Marvel’s Avengers: Endgame, one of our strongest associations with Disney,” Pallavi Pandey, Head of Brand Communication, Max Fashion said. 

Payback, a multi-brand loyalty programme in India, also ran a series of initiatives during the summer, keeping in mind events like the ICC World Cup and end of season sales. Ramakant Khandelwal, CMO, Payback India says, “This summer, we launched Payback Days – a five-day shopping offer, where our key partner brands like Big Bazaar, fbb, ICICI Bank, BookMyShow and HPCL announced mega point-based offers for members.”
Electronics & Consumer Appliances

Soaring temperatures definitely spell good news for the country’s electronics players. Categories like air-conditioners and refrigerators look set to witness a double-digit growth boosted by increased consumption from Tier I and Tier II cities. “The increasing penetration of internet and smartphones is a trend here to stay and in a category like ACs where the product research trend is playing a big role. Digital is the key medium apart from ground presence,” says Swati Rathi, Marketing Head - Godrej Appliances, adding that the brand is looking at a 25% growth this summer. 

With its focus on cricket this year, TV is an important part of Haier’s media mix. “With the IPL and ongoing ICC World Cup, the fever has gripped the country and we’re leveraging the summer by not only introducing our product on television but also enhancing mindshare among consumers,” says Satish NS, Senior Vice-President, Sales and Marketing, Haier India. 

Brands like Lloyd, however, are betting big on Bollywood pull for the AC portfolio by getting star couple Deepika Padukone and Ranveer Singh on board this summer, while Orient Electric has signed on MS Dhoni for its latest campaign. Croma devotes close to 20 per cent of its annual budget on summer campaigns with a clear focus on products such as ACs, refrigerators and innovative products like portable ACs and unique ice-makers that produce ice in seven minutes. 

Ritesh Ghosal, CMO, Croma - Infiniti Retail Ltd says, “We have seen a growth of over 45 per cent YOY in the sales of refrigerators and ACs.” 

Spends in the summer quarter are usually much higher than any other quarter for Crompton Greaves. “Our campaigns have a media mix spread across TV, Digital, Radio, Print and Outdoor. However, for this season’s campaigns, spends on TV tend to be higher than the other media,” says Rohit Malkani, VP, Marketing at Crompton Greaves Consumer Electricals Ltd. 

Home appliances, aside from cooling products, too are seeing positive traction, says Deba Ghoshal, Head of Marketing, Voltas. The brand has allocated close to 18% of its total spends towards summer marketing to build momentum for its product line. 

Speaking about its marketing initiatives that kicked off this summer, Prasenjit Basu, Head of Marketing, Voltbek Appliances India says, “Once the brand identity gains the required momentum, we hope to bring down our marketing spends to 3.5–4%. Our focus will largely be on Television, followed by Print and Digital.” 

Beauty & Personal Care
You really cannot get through the scorching summer sun without a trusted sun block cream, can you? It’s no wonder then that beauty and personal care brands are definitely bringing out their best summer game in the frenzy to grab consumer eyeballs and market share. 

Sachin Killawala, Marketing Director, Nivea India, says: “Consumers today seek information on healthy-looking skin across varied mediums like Digital, Print, TV and point of sale. We tailor our communication for each of these mediums and are also curating an educational content platform called ‘Healthy Skin Series’ to help our consumers leverage Nivea’s skin expertise.” FMCG brand Marico roped in actress Kiara Advani to build a stronger millennial connect largely on social media platforms. 

One brand that is definitely riding on the storyline of youthfulness and romance is McNROE’s Wild Stone. Narendra Kumar Daga, Founder & MD, McNROE says TV will be a big part of the brand’s communication plan this summer and Wild Stone will continue to build on the success of the #JustFriendsNoMore campaign launched early in the year. “Our latest TVC is an endearing storyline in a corporate set-up amidst young office colleagues that showcases the transition of a platonic friendship to a budding relationship as fragrance steps in to brew romance,” says Daga. Brands are also looking at building that connect with young consumers by signing up young brand ambassadors. Case in point – Emami Limited recently got actor Varun Dhawan on board for Navratna Cool’s He Magic Duo. Another fresh face and brand ambassador is Sara Ali Khan appointed by ITC’s personal care brand Fiama. 

Gopa Kumar, COO, Isobar believes this will be a summer unlike any other. “We will see good spends this summer, not only because of the season but also because of big ticket events like the World Cup, General Election and IPL,” Kumar notes.  

Sandeep Verma, President (Sales & Marketing), Bajaj Consumer Care Ltd said, “For the Bajaj Cool Almond Drops, we have launched a 360-degree campaign and rolled out a new TVC with our brand ambassador Ravindra Jadeja. For NoMarks sunscreen, we have a targeted digital campaign. In the long term, these new product launches will contribute to a significant percentage of our company’s overall turnover. Cooling hair oils is a Rs 1,100 crore market growing at 10 per cent annually and sunscreens are a Rs 300 crore market growing at 14 per cent annually. The company aims to get to a 5 per cent share this year,” says Verma. 

Travel & Entertainment
What’s a summer without a summer holiday? As the mercury rises, brands in the travel and entertainment space are also seizing the opportunity to offer consumers new travel and entertainment offerings. Asif Riaz, AVP & Head Marketing, SOTC Travel Ltd says: “Our marketing spends are skewed for summer travel, owing to the longer duration of summer holidays for children. That said, we are also focussing on promoting a 12-month holiday calendar targeting varied segments of travellers like DINKS (Double Income No Kids), senior citizens and others.” 

Since vacation planning for summer travellers begins around the months of January and continues till March, some brands invest around 40 per cent of their annual budget on marketing initiatives within this period. One such example is Thomas Cook. The brand has rolled out a variety of campaigns throughout the first half of the year, including the ‘Grand India Holiday Carnival’ and the ‘Ghar Jao Vote Karo’ campaign encouraging people to vote. 

Abraham Alapatt, President & Group Head - Marketing, Service Quality, Value Added Services & Innovation, Thomas Cook, says, “About 60-65% of our budget (cumulatively) is invested before the conclusion of the first half of the year (H1 period). This summer, we have aligned about 50 per cent of our total budgets on digital platforms, followed by 40 per cent on Print and 10 per cent on BTL activations.” 

Another massive opportunity comes from the e-commerce sector, especially in hotel bookings. There is no one-size-fits-all for travel bookings, which is where e-commerce comes in with options that can be tailored for consumer preferences. MakeMyTrip launched its summer campaign in the month of March, featuring actors Ranveer Singh and Alia Bhatt. 

Saujanya Shrivastava, Group CMO, MakeMyTrip, explains the rationale behind the campaign. “We launched the campaign with an aim to showcase reliability of booking hotels online for business or family travel on MakeMyTrip. As India’s one-stop-travel-shop we have incredible insights on what elevates the hotel booking and stay experience for travellers,” he says. 

Likewise, other players like Yatra and ezeego1 also leveraged the election season to encourage people to head home to vote. 

Apart from travel and tourism companies, other brands leveraging the season were the travel gear brands such as Samsonite, American Tourister and VIP Industries. American Tourister is also leveraging the Cricket World Cup with brand ambassador and Indian team captain Virat Kohli. 

Anushree Tainwala, Executive Director Marketing, Samsonite South Asia says, “With cricket fever running high, we have launched our special champions edition range of travel gear and our new ‘Access to the World’ campaign themed around Virat’s journey to the World Cup. Since the summer is a big travel season, the majority of our spends are devoted to our summer campaigns for all our brands (such as American Tourister and Samsonite).” 

VIP Industries has roped in celebrity couple Saif Ali Khan and Kareena Kapoor Khan for its ‘Hello Holidays’ campaign. VIP also has a campaign for Skybags featuring Varun Dhawan. 
“This year, we associated with the IPL as the official luggage partner of Kings XI Punjab. We are also the first luggage brand to participate in the IPL as a sponsor. This is in addition to the most important step we have taken this summer, which is the repositioning of Brand VIP,” says Anirudh Pandharkar, CMO, VIP Industries. 

A significant consumer group during the summer is children. Therefore, channels like Nickelodeon, Sony Yay and Hungama have a wide range of content for kids this summer. Leena Lele Dutta, Business Head, Sony Yay says, “Kids are in for a treat as we will air new episodes of KickO and Super Speedo, the mischievous feline duo in a fresh avatar as Honey-Bunny ka Jholmaal. We will also air 13 new movies across all our properties.” 

(With inputs from Amaresh Godbole, CEO, Digitas India and  Nishi Kant, EVP & Branch Head, Dentsu Webchutney)

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