Topps brings on board Motivator; enters India via IPL4

Topps Company Inc, a sports and entertainment collectables firm, has entered the country riding the IPL wave. The company has lined up an equal share of ATL and BTL buzz for the launch and has roped in Motivator to handle its media duties.

e4m by Preeti Hoon
Updated: May 16, 2011 9:15 AM  | 5 min read
Topps brings on board Motivator; enters India via IPL4

Capitalising on the Indian Premier League (IPL) platform, Topps Company Inc., a sports and entertainment collectables firm, has entered India. The company has appointed Motivator, a GroupM agency, as its media partner.

Speaking to exchange4media, Sanjeev Katyal, Head, Topps India, said, “Topps is clearly positioned as a company operating in the space of sports and entertainment globally, and in India it is no different. The IPL arguably is India’s biggest and one of the only events that combines sports and entertainment through cricket. It is one of most successful brands in the recent times whose brand value is now estimated to be around $4 billion. The partnership with IPL and launch of Cricket Attax – the official trading card game of IPL – was thus a very logical and befitting launch platform for Topps in India.”

Katyal further said, “Our media agency is Motivator. We have come out with an ad campaign that has been done by Karma Productions and directed by Firoz Karmalawala.”

Meanwhile, the company has strategised to tap the new market with all possible forms of media and tools. According to Katyal, TV, retail activations, sampling and retail visibility through a variety of POSM were the key elements of the company’s 360 degree marketing programme for the current launch. In addition to these elements, promotional alliances will also play a vital role for Topps brands, besides corporate and consumer PR.

When asked which one of the various forms of communication was most important for the brand and why, Katyal replied, “Each tool has its own role to play in the mix. Television builds reach and awareness. Promotions/ activations build affinity towards the brand and create the necessary brand experience and conversions at retail. Sampling acts a great means for cross-sell. PR helps in addressing parental gate-keeping and creating a platform for building category. Point of sale drives impact and conversions at retail.”

As per the communication policy of the company, the money allotment towards BTL is at par with the ATL promotions, which is contrary to the existing trend, in most cases, of not giving more or equal weightage to activation and ground activities. “Topps’ communications strategy ensures close integration of ATL with BTL and the right mix as well. To that effect, our BTL spends are almost equal to our ATL spends,” Katyal informed.

The marketing strategy in the first year includes laying the foundation for the brand. “Topps is considered as experts at franchise management, hence our entertainment strategy consists of engaging in licensing opportunities. We have applied significant resources behind each property such as Star Wars, Lord of the Rings, EPL and WWE worldwide. In India, we would have a calendar of relevant launches. Currently, we are considering IPL, which is already launched, EPL and WWE amongst other lines that resonate well with Indian kids. We are open to other locally relevant opportunities in the sports and entertainment genres,” Katyal added. Being a new entrant in the market, Topps is counting on ‘custom-made’ aspect of its product to make a mark initially.

Speaking more on Cricket Attax, he explained that it was positioned as the official IPL Trading Card Game. The play pattern was also well integrated with the IPL and T-20 cricket formats. The ATL and BTL campaigns integrate this messaging and position Topps and Cricket Attax in the right perspective, leveraging IPL Season 4 as the launch platform.

He further said, “Our TV campaign on all top kids’ channels is one of the biggest in the toy industry, targeting nearly 800 GRPs and 70 per cent reach amongst the 4-14 year old kids’ market in the country. Our BTL campaign, titled Cricket Attax Championships, is again be arguably the most robust in the industry covering retail activations at 170 stores, including McDonald’s, Hamleys, Reliance TimeOut, Big Bazaar, PlanetM and Landmark, across all the 10 IPL cities in the country and targeting an OTS of nearly 4 million. Similarly, Topps can boast of one of the biggest sampling activities at McDonald’s of 1.5 million promotional packs.”

When asked whether the company would be competing with the likes of Mattel and Funskool, Katyal replied in the negative and said, “Topps is building a new category of collectables in the country, and our products are very aggressively priced and are purely pocket money purchase by the kids and teenagers. Rather than being competition, Topps and other toy and FMCG players in the kids industry are complementary to each other, since immense opportunities exist for promotional alliances, where these companies can leverage on the Topps collectables to market their products. Topps globally is very active on such alliances and is open for opportunities in India.”

On the factors that could trigger the growth of the company, Katyal said, “The Indian market is in its evolutionary stage when it comes to collectables, however, very aware and exposed to a variety of sports and entertainment properties both local and global. Give the scenario – awareness amongst Indian kids and teenagers, Topps products range and pricing, viral nature of Topps product offerings, wide and critical reach at retail and break through marketing and category building strategy and execution would be the key factors for our growth in the country.”

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