Mumbai: Much like the Super Bowl—considered the most watched television property in the US with estimated advertising revenues of $186.3 million (Rs922 crore today) in 2008—season 2 of the Indian Premier League (IPL) is being seen as a great platform to promote brands and launch new products.
Launch pad: IPL chairman Lalit Modi (L) with actor and Kolkata Knight Riders owner Shah Rukh Khan, at a press conference in Cape Town. Companies are seeing IPL as a great platform to launch new products. AFP
The prospect of access to a viewership of at least two billion people has sent advertising agencies into overdrive as they strive to complete campaigns that will be launched in time for the mega cricket event, starting on 18 April in South Africa.
The list of brands launching new campaigns during IPL is not restricted to primary sponsors such as DLF, Vodafone, Hero Honda and Citibank. It also includes brands such as Wrigley’s Orbit chewing gum, Cinthol soap, Nivea skin care, Adidas, Sprite, Cadbury’sDairy Milk chocolate, Castrol engine oil, Reliance Communications, Idea Cellular, Hyundai Motor, General Motors, Parle’s 20:20 biscuits, Max New York Life Insurance, among others, that are looking to ride on the popularity of this event.
“We saw it as an opportunity that had come at the right time,” said Himanshu Khanna, director (marketing) at Wrigley India Pvt. Ltd. The firm’s new campaign for Orbit chewing gum, featuring brand ambassador Deepika Padukone, was ready for launch a few weeks ago, but it decided to flag it off during IPL. “At the end of the day it’s really about eyeballs, and if I have a great platform that can deliver those eyeballs, I would rather launch my campaign on that.”
Khanna explains that the strategy for most brands remains the same—to pick media properties with high viewership to get maximum visibility and brand recall.
For example, in the 1980s, brands would launch new products and campaigns during the screening of mythological serials such as Ramayan and Mahabharat, which enjoyed unprecedented viewership. “You could be sure that the whole country was watching,” said Khanna. In recent years, mega media properties such as Kaun Banega Crorepati, on Star Plus, have attracted a host of new brand campaigns and product launches.
Season 1 of IPL had also attracted some new campaigns for brands such as Havell’s and Vodafone. The Godrej group of companies primarily used the inaugural season of IPL to announce their new brand identity to the world.
This year the action appears higher decibel. Reliance Communications Ltd will launch a new commercial featuring Bollywood actor Hrithik Roshan. As will Cinthol, the soap brand from Godrej Consumer Products Ltd, which will release its ad shot with the actor in Cape Town. Sprite, the lemon-flavoured drink from Coca-Cola India, will launch its new campaign featuring actor Shah Rukh Khan, while Idea Cellular Ltd will launch a new campaign featuring cricket icons such as Sachin Tendulkar.
Some companies also see IPL as a great platform to launch new products. Parle Products Ltd, for instance, is looking to launch Mazelo, its new brand of sweet candy, during the tournament. Encouraged by the experience of launching its 20:20 brand of cookies during season 1 of IPL, the company decided to use it as a launch pad this year as well. “When we launched 20:20 cookies during IPL last year, we registered a (sales) growth of 40%, which was substantially higher than the expected growth of 20%,” said Praveen Kulkarni, head (marketing) at Parle Products.
Mobile service provider Idea will be launching “a whole host of new services targeted at the cricket-crazy consumer”, said Rajat Mukarji, chief corporate affairs officer at Idea Cellular. This will include value-added services, downloads, pictures, etc.
Here’s why everyone’s rushing to make the deadline: According to Sneha Rajani, executive vice-president and business head for MAX, official broadcaster for IPL, the channel received an all India average TRP (television rating point) of 4.8 through all 58 matches of the inaugural session of IPL, making it an obvious choice for any advertiser looking to reach a vast audience. The channel’s share of prime time during the inaugural season went up to 29%, higher than the cumulative market share of the top nine Hindi entertainment channels, added Sundar Raman, chief executive of IPL. According to estimates by media buyers, who did not want to be named, the channel continues to demand a premium of up to Rs4.5 lakh for a 10-second spot during matches.
These numbers gain relevance, especially during the economic downturn when advertisers are looking to get more bang for their buck. “If the advertiser is spending so much money to be on IPL, it’s only natural that they will want new, clutter-breaking campaigns,” said Hemant Bhandari, producer, Chrome Pictures Ltd, adding that the top ad film production houses in the country would have registered a hike in business due to IPL.
The new television commercials are likely to be anywhere between 20-30 seconds in duration, which is slightly shorter than the usual 40-second duration for new commercials. “There is a time limitation when you’re shooting ads that will air during a cricket match,” said Prasoon Pandey, director of Corcoise Films Pvt. Ltd. Unlike shorter ads that can be aired during breaks between overs, anything above 30 seconds in duration is likely to air only when a wicket falls. “So, most advertisers would rather go with shorter ads that have a greater chance of being aired…otherwise in a game, there are only so many wickets that will fall.”
While IPL is expected to deliver eyeballs, the high level of investment could result in a reallocation of ad budgets for the rest of the year. “If you look at the advertising rates on IPL, they are pretty expensive. Advertisers will need to dedicate a significant portion of their budget to stand out,” said Shiv Sethuraman, chief executive of TBWA India Pvt. Ltd.
A case in point is that of Max New York Life Insurance Pvt. Ltd, which is likely to spend 20% of its annual advertising budget on two major cricket properties—IPL and the Twenty20 World Cup. “It makes sense to have new campaigns and messaging to gain that much more impact and visibility on such big-ticket platforms. While this is traditionally not peak time for the insurance sector, the next two months will see the heaviest marketing activity from our brand,” said Anisha Motwani, executive vice-president and chief marketing officer at Max New York Life, who is confident that investing in such “tent-pole” media properties will pay off in the long run.