Mumbai: The Indian Premier League (IPL) wants to squeeze more revenue out of the event by going local. Regional advertisers are being offered the option to back the Twenty20 tournament at about one-fourth of the price that top sponsors pay.
Eight local or regional sponsorships are on offer at Rs7 crore apiece, giving each advertiser access to seven IPL matches being played in their region.
They will also have access to advertising and branding opportunities in the stadium, backdrop displays, as well as the right to use archival footage of the matches and images of players.
The strategy is aimed at tapping strong regional advertisers keen to be associated with the tournament in a cost-effective manner, besides reaching out to companies looking to focus on key markets.
“The price of a central sponsorship (approximately Rs30 crore), restricts the number of advertisers,” said Sundar Raman, IPL’s chief operating officer.
The league has received several queries from regional players, who didn’t necessarily have the money for a central sponsorship, but still wanted to be associated with IPL to gain a national footprint.
Photograph by Saeed Khan/AFP
“We haven’t closed any deals yet, but the queries have been varied and across a wide section of advertisers,” Raman said.
The new initiative, however, could be a rival to efforts by individual teams to sell advertising and marketing opportunities.
“It’s a great opportunity for advertisers that are looking to reach a very focused group of regional audiences,” said Indranil Das Blah, former vice-president, sports, Globosport India Pvt. Ltd, who is now setting up his own sports entertainment practice. “However, this new (IPL) package could compete with the existing inventory that teams are trying to sell.”
The selling propositions are similar—regional and franchisee sponsorship options include in-stadia branding and the use of player images, thus offering advertisers a wider option in terms of deals at different levels of remuneration.
However, some media buyers and planners who have discussed sponsorship options with clients have been unable to proceed in cases where headline sponsors are in the same business.
While several clients were keen, “unfortunately there was a clash of interest,” said Hiren Pandit, managing partner, entertainment sports partnerships, GroupM. For instance, one of his clients, a real estate company, couldn’t apply, as the IPL title sponsor is real estate company DLF Ltd, which spent about Rs200 crore for the privilege over a period of five years.
Similarly, any brand in the same category as the central sponsors—Citibank, Hero Honda, Vodafone, Pepsi and Kingfisher Airlines—won’t be considered.
The central sponsors “have paid huge amounts of money for the partnership,” said Raman. “It’s only natural that their interests will be protected.”
Utkarsh Singh, IPL chief marketing officer, puts the ad spend share of regional advertisers in the national market at 40%.
Others, such as Pandit, peg this number at a more conservative 25%. However, both seem to agree that regional advertisers could make for important clients in the future.
“We hope they will grow their business with us,” said Raman. Interest in such deals has come from a wide cross-section of advertisers, among them handset manufacturers, lubricant companies, domestic insurers and manufacturers of gutka.
“As an advertiser, we would definitely be interested,” said Ravi Chawla, president, lubes business, Gulf Oil Corp. Ltd. “The brand can be tied in quite interestingly with the event and the local connect can be leveraged, especially if the market isn’t strong (for the advertiser).”
Gulf Oil has been associated with Kings XI Punjab since IPL 2009, considering that the state features as one of the top 15 markets for the company. “It’s a good way to create awareness and excitement around your brand,” Chawla said.
Some advertisers are skeptical about the value the association could bring to a regional company.
“The question really is about the return on your investment. Anyone can put Rs10 crore down, but the value you get in return isn’t very much considering all the other central sponsors in the fray,” said Parag Desai, executive director, Wagh Bakri Tea Group, which is present in Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Delhi, and Gujarat where it controls 50% of the packaged tea market.