Move over beverage and consumer electronics giants, a new wave of smaller advertisers are betting big on the billion-dollar Indian Premier League (IPL) cricket tournament this year.
Seizing the opportunity: A May 2008 photo of an IPL match held in Mumbai. While more brand associations generate revenue for the IPL franchisees, it is really the small advertisers that benefit from the exposure. Shirish Shete / PTI
Season 3 of IPL, scheduled to start on 12 March, will see a new bunch of brands associating with individual teams and finding prime place on the jerseys and caps of star cricketers.
Earlier this week, Mohali’s Kings XI Punjab (KXIP) announced its partnership with a new entrant in the handset market, Aroma Mobile launched by Aroma Telecom Pvt. Ltd, a company based in Mumbai.
Kolkata Knight Riders has added Lux Hosiery Industries Ltd’s Lux Cozy innerware as well as energy drink “XXX” to its list of advertisers.
The energy drink brand was launched in January by Goa Technology and Trade Pvt. Ltd (GT&T). The XXX logo will be present on the players’ T-shirts.
Meanwhile Chennai Super Kings is breathing new life into Orient Fans, a 56-year-old company that is riding on the IPL frenzy to revive its brand image. The team has also signed on UniverCell Telecommunications India Pvt. Ltd, a Chennai-based mobile retailer, as its below-the-line partner to carry out local promotions for the team.
Other brands such as cement manufacturer ACC Ltd, jeanswear brand Flying Machine and pain-reliever Moov, owned by Paras Pharmaceuticals Ltd, are also some of the other brands not usually associated with cricket, which have tied up with teams such as KXIP, Delhi Daredevils and Rajasthan Royals this year.
While more brand associations generate revenue for the IPL franchisees, it is really the small advertisers that benefit from the exposure. “It is not very expensive for local and small advertisers to partner with teams and the kind of visibility the brands get in return is worth it,” said Rakesh Singh, marketing head of Chennai Super Kings.
According to senior team officials, brand sponsorships with teams do not hurt the pockets of advertisers as the deals can range anywhere from Rs2 crore to Rs7 crore per year, depending on the capacity in which the brand will be present. Compare this to an on-air sponsorship slot on the broadcast partner Multi Screen Media Pvt. Ltd, which is signing associate and presenting rights for between Rs35 crore and Rs50 crore for its channel SET MAX this season.
“Which is why you will see a lot of brand launches and brand revivals planned around IPL,” added Singh.
For Moov and XXX, IPL will indeed be their launching pad. “It makes sense for us to tie in with Rajasthan Royals on IPL because we have just launched a new variant called ‘Neck and Shoulder’ pain relief, which is targeted at working men and women and a majority of IPL viewers fit our target audience,” said Ajay Rawal, general manager (marketing) at Paras Pharma.
“XXX, a completely new entrant into the market, is a mass product so we need to be associated with a brand which can deliver mass coverage,” said Sachiin Joshi, vice-chairman of JMJ Group, the parent company of GT&T. “Kolkata Knight Riders was the most popular team in both season 1 and 2, even though the performance may not have been as great,” he said explaining the reason behind the association with the team.
Experts say that unlike other cricket tournaments where advertisers can only buy into Team India, IPL offers sponsors eight teams to choose from and hence more sponsorship opportunities. “There are apparel sponsors, leisure apparel sponsors, pouring partners, mobile partners and a host of other rights that sponsors can choose from to best fit their need,” said Singh of Chennai Super Kings.
The number of smaller advertisers associating with the IPL teams has doubled although the revenue contribution hasn’t increased significantly. “Right now teams are looking at improving their bottom line so we’re still primarily interested in going after the big sponsors,” said B. Vanchi, director at GMR Sports Pvt. Ltd, a subsidiary of GMR Holdings Pvt. Ltd that owns the Delhi team. “Sponsorship and licensing deals with smaller brands account for only 3-4% of the total revenue, but this percentage is growing rapidly as more such brands come on board for exposure.”
However, not everyone is upbeat about smaller brands latching on to IPL. Some celebrity managers feel that such brand associations with IPL are killing the endorsement market. “Today any Tom, Dick and Harry can slap his logo on the back of a jersey of a star-cricketer for Rs2 crore, diluting the player’s brand,” said Harish Krishnamachar, vice-president (South Asia) at World Sport Group Pte Ltd (WSG), a sports management company that handles the accounts of Sachin Tendulkar and Gautam Gambhir. WSG also owns the rights to the international broadcast rights of IPL.