Come March, and the buzz surrounding the Twenty20 Indian Premier League (IPL), the domestic cricket league launched by the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI), will get louder with BCCI, the eight teams and IPL’s media partner Sony Entertainment Television (SET) rolling out their high-pitched advertising campaigns all at once.
Each campaign will have a different theme and all will pitch IPL as one of the prime entertainment and sports brands.
“The campaigns are designed to take the hype around IPL to a new scale and establish IPL as a strong sports and entertainment brand,” said Sunder Raman, chief executive, IPL.
Together, BCCI, Sony and the teams are likely to spend around Rs160 crore on promoting IPL across various media platforms, including television channels, newspapers, mobiles and the Internet. BCCI, according to several people familiar with the development and who do not wish to be identified has committed Rs40-50 crore on its campaign which will likely hit TV screens in the first week of March. SET will spend around Rs20 crore in addition to the promotions it will run on its own network of channels. “We will use our own networks heavily to promote the tournament. The first promos will be launched on 1 March,” said Rohit Gupta, executive vice-president, advertisement sales and revenue management, SET.
New ball game: Former Indian cricket captain Sourav Ganguly (left) with IPL team owner Shah Rukh Khan (second from left) during the auction of cricket players in Mumbai on 20 February. (AP)
Besides, the teams will launch their own individual campaigns. WSG, the sports marketing company that holds the global media rights for IPL, has committed to spending around Rs450 crore on promoting the IPL brand over the next 10 years.
Initially, the campaign will run in India, but later, BCCI and WSG plan to take it global. “In the next two years, we plan to take the campaign to various cricketing markets outside India, specially those from where players have been inducted,” said Raman.
Interestingly, a large amount of the ad spends are likely to go to regional media, said a senior executive from Ogilvy and Mather, the agency handling IPL’s advertising. Closer to 18 April, the launch date for IPL, BCCI, Sony and the teams plan to block commercial airtime across all major television channels. Blocking commercial airtime means there will be only IPL ads during ad breaks on various TV shows. “We are looking at roadblocking airtime on almost every channel except for Zee channels,” said the executive who did not wish to be identified.
Essel Group, which runs the Zee bouquet of channels, owns Indian Cricket League, IPL’s rival.
The “roadblock” strategy, new in Indian advertising space, was recently adopted by telecom operator Vodafone Essar Ltd when it changed its branding from Hutch to Vodafone.
IPL will also run full-page advertisements in various publications—in Hindi, English and other languages. “IPL is all about regional competition. So the effort will be to build hype beyond metros as well,” said Ajit Varghese, managing director, Maxus, IPL’s media buying agency.
The campaigns are likely to pitch the tournament as more of an entertainment option than just a game of cricket. “The theme is entertainment. The communication will be on the lines of ‘come watch a three-hour movie,’” said Sony’s Gupta.
BCCI’s advertising tag line is expected to be themed around “the fight for excellence,” said an advertising executive familiar with the campaign who did not wish to be identified. “The campaign will be entertaining and aspirational and will try and invoke team loyalty by creating passion around the city it represents,” he added.