A video grab of NatureFresh campaign.
A video grab of NatureFresh campaign.

Do IPL ad campaigns featuring cricketers work?

Since brands, as a part of sponsorship deal, have to use the cricketers in official jersey there is little leeway the sportsperson has which leads to clutter in advertising, say experts

New Delhi: In the ongoing Indian Premier League T20 tournament, there’s been a surfeit of television commercials featuring cricketers for brands such as Jio, NatureFresh, Goibibo and Kansai Nerolac Paints, among others. In the Goibibo commercial, for instance, filmstar Deepika Padukone is seen with players like Rohit Sharma and Hardik Pandya promoting wallet money goCash. The actor is also seen shaking a leg with a clutch of players across teams like Virat Kohli, Chris Gayle and Mahendra Singh Dhoni in the high-decibel Jio ad spot. Meanwhile, the NatureFresh campaign features players like Gautam Gambhir, Shreyas Iyer and Rishabh Pant.

While Jio is an associate sponsor with IPL, Goibibo and NatureFresh are team sponsors for Mumbai Indians and Delhi Daredevils, respectively, riding on the popularity of cricketers in their campaigns . But do these ads create recall and interest for the brands which are spending serious money on both creating the ad as well as promoting it on television?

“The emotional equity that a brand can drive between cricketers and themselves is not easy with IPL as most ads are hastily put together and often are far away from the character of the brand," said Naresh Gupta, strategy head and managing partner at advertising agency Bang in the Middle.

Gupta further added that since brands, as a part of sponsorship deal, have to use the cricketers in official jersey there is little leeway the sportsperson has which leads to clutter in advertising. Apart from creative execution which often involves singing and dancing, there’s always an overlapping of film celebrities or cricketers who often appear in multiple brand campaigns leading to poor brand recall. .

“Brand recall is a big issue. In the Jio ad, we will remember Deepika and not the host of cricketers," Gupta added.

Bobby Pawar, managing director and chief creative officer at Publicis South Asia, who has worked on the Nerolac Paints IPL ad featuring Shikhar Dhawan, believes that the onus is on the creative agency to write a good ad which makes the best use of the celebrity.

“If you do not have a great idea then no number of popular cricketers can save the campaign. Sticking to age-old formula of singing and dancing is a lazy approach to use cricketers in the ad. It does nothing for the brand," he added.

Kansai Nerolac Paints’ latest campaign leverages SunRisers Hyderabad’s player Shikhar Dhawan’s iconic moustache as a metaphor for pride which one experiences after using exterior paint brand Excel Mica Marble.

“The product gives an emotional benefit of pride and ‘mooch’, (moustache) which has a great connect with Indian males, has been used as a metaphor for pride in the ad. We have tried to hit the sweet spot between the product truth, target group affinity and the cultural context of pride," said Ram Mehrotra, vice president, sales and marketing, Kansai Nerolac Paints Ltd.

Like Nerolac, Kingfisher, the alcohol brand owned by United Breweries Ltd, which once featured cricketers crooning its iconic jingle ‘Ooh la la la leo’ under its ‘Divided by teams, united by Kingfisher’ campaign is bringing out the real side of cricketers in its new IPL ads. It’s current campaign ‘Indian Prankster League’ shows different team players pulling pranks and having a good time with each other.

“We consciously decided to break the clutter of singing and dancing in our IPL ads. Our objective is to tell a story through our IPL advertising while bringing out the human side of players," said Samar Singh Sheikhawat, chief marketing officer, United Breweries Limited.

Agreed Narayan Devanathan, group executive and strategy officer, Dentsu Brand Agencies India, who thinks that ads which leverage creative storytelling whilst keeping the product truth alive tend to work during such big sport tournaments.

“We need more campaigns like Pepsi’s mask ad with Sachin Tendulkar and ‘Nothing official about it’ campaign relied on what’s outside the bottle to build the brand while leveraging the power of storytelling with cricketers," he added.