TV First: Contextuality, measurability, credibility key for live event sponsorships

More than chasing visibility, brands today peg contextuality, brand relevance & business objectives critical to live event associations said a panel of experts at the e4m TV First conference in Mumbai

Panel discussion 2

Given that the projected size of the live event sponsorship opportunity is set to cross Rs 10,000 crore by 2021 according to some industry reports, marketers and agencies are increasingly looking to capitalise on this, by partnering with live events where they can ensure mass reach and garner maximum eyeballs. 

While sports occupies the largest share of eyeballs in terms of live programming, it is closely followed by news and award shows and concerts, and this is where most advertisers play in terms of sponsorship. 

However, the big question is whether just chasing visibility is important for marketers or whether the context and perception also matters to a brand? And then of course, how does one measure these parameters?

“Some of our most successful associations or programmes have actually been through live partnerships whereby our sales force - our front line is actually leveraging this very effectively,” remarked Peeyush Bachlaus, GM Marketing, Kansai Nerolac Paints, speaking on the topic of ‘Cracking the code of live event sponsorship on TV’ as part of a panel discussion at the e4m TV First conference in Mumbai. 

Brands today are working towards creating specialised content when it comes to live sponsorships. And in this context, impactful storytelling that stays in the minds of viewers long after the event is over is a critical piece in building brand value and relevance. Elaborating on this, Vikram Tanna, VP-Head-Advertising Sales & Business Head – Regional Clusters, Discovery Communications India says, “Our programming is focussed around inspiring, educating, entertaining and impacting viewers. Perception is more important than performance and thus we believe in storytelling to create impact on viewers and so most of our content is packaged in such a way as to be relevant to the audience for years. When we do live events too, we believe in inspiring human lives.” 

Of course, measurability is equally important and while most brands look at GRPs as a metric for live event sponsorships, identifying business objectives, consumer metrics and clubbing that with relevant content to ensure brand recall are equally important parameters, notes Vanita Keswani, CEO, Madison Media Sigma.  

“There are two ways to look at ROI – the first being what consumer metrics you are trying to influence in terms of awareness or consideration, and the second part is business objectives, in terms of market, competition and so on,” explains Amit Sethiya, Chief Marketing Officer, Syska Group, which has seen a 20-25% increase in consumer awareness after using these parameters to forge live event sponsorships. Syska was able to in fact launch a new brand through its partnership with the Pro Kabbadi League and saw a 15% rise in sales after partnering with the live sports event. 

Live sponsorships are an expensive affair, so brands need to assess whether they will result in the required returns that are worth the investment. This means partnering with brands that are relevant to the brand proposition and can thus give the brand an uplift. “For us it made sense to partner with IPL because we were promoting healthy snacking during the matches and having already built some amount of brand awareness and having cricketer Virat Kohli on board as our brand ambassador, we saw our brand awareness levels rise from 20-25% pre-IPL to 65%  for six weeks post-IPL, mainly thanks to the sheer number of eyeballs we were able to garner at the same time during one massively viewed live event,” Anupam Bokey, Chief Marketing Officer, Too Yumm Brands revealed. 

However, more than selling GRPs, Tanna believes that the three key pointers to keep in mind in order to be relevant to the viewer and therefore build brand relevance are content – in terms of killer content which evokes curiosity and ensures the consumer is transfixed; community – which for Discovery is more about engaging passionate viewers who want to associate with certain content that appeals to them; and thirdly credibility of the brand and platform. “If you get these three parameters right, as per our experience, you will have brands flocking to you because you are producing content that consumers really want,” he adds.  

Contextuality thus becomes critical here. “Context gets derived from the life cycle itself. A new brand seeking to achieve a certain metric – sales or recall or awareness would follow a certain brand guideline or charter. Context is thus always the driving force for a new or existing brand and the only way to really leverage or exploit ROI or investment,” remarks Bachlaus. 

In the news space too, which is cluttered with multiple brands for various shows, more so with the elections around the corner, it is important for the brand proposition to align with what the channel or program stands for. “News is very cluttered and news channels are already creating their own space and proposition. There is a certain style of reporting and if you feel your brand proposition aligns to that style, create that unique property and brand it as such,” concludes Bokey. 

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