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Why emerging brands are betting big on the India-New Zealand home series

New categories of advertisers are leveraging cricket tournaments like the thrilling series between the Kiwis and a resurgent Indian side looking to avenge the T20 World Cup loss on their home turf

e4m by Christina Moniz
Published: Nov 16, 2021 8:35 PM  | 5 min read
India-New Zealand home series

The upcoming India versus New Zealand series scheduled to begin tomorrow promises to be a riveting duel between the two sides, especially on the back of the recently concluded T20 Cricket World Cup. The series, which begins tomorrow on November 17 and concludes on December 7, also marks the return of bilateral tournaments on Indian soil after almost eight months, giving Indian viewers and advertisers plenty of reasons to celebrate. Payback too looks very much on the cards as the men in blue gear up to avenge their recent losses to New Zealand. The Kiwi side will be touring India for three T20 fixtures and two test matches, which will be broadcast on the Star Sports network. 

With a billion hopes pinned on the Indian side, viewership for the India-NZ series looks set to hit new records, which is why advertisers want in on the action. The series already has nine advertisers on board, with both established as well as emerging brands aiming to leverage the platform’s reach. Emerging brands like UNext, an ed-tech brand, have also chosen to associate with the series to drive large-scale brand awareness in a short span of time.

Speaking about the brand’s decision to advertise during the bilateral series, Kiran Kumar Rajendran, Head of Marketing, UNext Learning elaborates, “International cricket involving India always offers unparalleled mass reach for pan-India brands and consumers are receptive to advertisement messaging in between overs. Very few formats offer this window for a brand to effectively communicate a message to a large audience. UNext is focussed on the online higher education ecosystem and we find this a great medium to get our consumer proposition across.”

Kiran Kumar Rajendran, Head of Marketing, UNext Learning

Associating with live cricket events has the best medium to create brand cut-through for advertisers especially in an emerging category with many new players looking to increase their share of voice. Cricket not only provides a strong share of voice but also creates instant top-of-mind consumer recall for early-stage brands competing for the top of funnel objectives.

Speaking of UNext’s marketing campaign, Ambrish Sinha, CEO, UNext Learning said, “Our ad films aim to ease concerns around improving access, increasing affordability, providing good quality content & pedagogy, and enhancing outcomes for the learner community in the online higher education space.” The brand is keen to leverage the bilateral series in creating awareness around the aforementioned objectives central to the brand’s ethos.

Ambrish Sinha, CEO, UNext Learning

Emerging advertisers and cricket

The last couple of years have witnessed a drastic change in the cricket economy, points out Kishan Kumar Shyamalan, Chief Growth Officer, Wavemaker India as he lends some perspective on this new crop of advertisers that is leveraging the might and reach of the sport to reach consumers at scale. “The usual suspects who drove cricket broadcast in the last two and half decades have all been replaced by new protagonists from what we call the digital or new economy. These include categories like gaming and fantasy leagues, crypto, fintech, digi wallets, new-age accessories, wellness tech, edutech, retail tech etc.,” he says, adding that these brands have taken the best of the old school marketing and crafted their own new rules.

Kishan Kumar Shyamalan, Chief Growth Officer, Wavemaker India

Shyamalan also finds it most interesting to observe the pace and agility of these advertisers in building brands at large scale. He notes, “All these companies are in a hurry to build national brands with near-universal awareness. Most of them use two big pillars in doing this – a quirky/edgy/catchy communication and a large platform to take that across to billions! And that's where cricket comes into the picture. Cricket is that ‘shortcut’ to pan-India fame and acceptance. And it doesn't matter if it is a high-profile series like IPL and T20 World Cup or a bilateral series! Just like search, cricket is also now an always-on affair for these brands – because if I need to sell every day, I need to remind a lot of people every day!” This is evident from the kind of success brands like Byju’s, Cred, Dream11 and Swiggy have seen from both big-ticket tournaments as well as bilateral series.

An action-packed calendar ahead

The India-NZ series also marks the start of an exciting cricket calendar for Indian cricket, with major tournaments and various crucial bilateral series lined up for 2021-22. The team will be touring South Africa for three tests, three ODI games and four T20Is shortly after the home series against New Zealand. This will be followed by two more home series against the West Indies and Sri Lanka, with the Vivo IPL lined up for April next year in India. The tail end of 2022 will see the men in blue compete in the Asia Cup as a precursor to the ICC men’s T20 World Cup 2022 in Australia, which means the next 12 months hold riveting cricket action for fans and brands alike. It will be interesting to see how these new economy advertisers capitalise on the upcoming tournaments to build reach and brand equity.  

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