Brands battle for mindspace as cricket carnival kicks off

Here, Royal Challengers Bengaluru's Virat Kohli during the match against Mumbai Indians in the Indian Premier League 2024, at Wankhede Stadium in Mumbai on Thursday can be seen against a backdrop full of advertisements for Tata, My11 Circle, and Rupay.

Here, Royal Challengers Bengaluru's Virat Kohli during the match against Mumbai Indians in the Indian Premier League 2024, at Wankhede Stadium in Mumbai on Thursday can be seen against a backdrop full of advertisements for Tata, My11 Circle, and Rupay. (ANI)


  • 86 new brands have decided to advertise during the cricketing spectacle this year

New Delhi: The Indian Premier League (IPL) is an intense battleground not just for cricketers, but also for advertisers and brands. In the first 23 matches of the 17th season of the marquee cricket tournament, that intensity has multiplied, with 37 new categories and 86 new brands joining the fray on television compared to last year.

Yet, consumers don't recall most brands beyond the top 3-4 being advertised, ad rates are sluggish, and companies haven’t entirely loosened their purse strings, according to various reports on the sporting league. The story is no different on digital.

Even as various trends play out, the return of gaming as the biggest advertising category is the big takeaway so far. Food and beverage companies have joined the battle this year and, interestingly, pan masala advertising, though still present, hasn't reached its peak of last season.

Dream11 is the most popular advertiser, said experts, while other top brands are Asian Paints, Vimal, Thums Up Charged, Havells, Joy Cosmetics, Dettol, Harpic, Vanessa, Amul, Groww, Rupay and HDFC PayZapp.

According to data from TAM Sports, a unit of TAM Media Research, Parle's biscuits and Airtel's Xstream Fiber are among the top new brands this year are, but it is the gaming and wallet companies that have grabbed the most eyeballs.

Data from TAM indicates that about 55 product categories have emerged this season, growing 65% over last year's number up till 23 matches. In total, 60 companies have advertised in the season so far, over last year's 45.

Pan masala hasn't hit the peak of last year yet, but it still pipped the smartphone category to fourth spot. Gaming companies and food product companies are the first and second categories this season on television, added TAM.

L.V. Krishnan, CEO of TAM Media Research, said that over the seasons of IPL, there have been significant shifts in advertising trends of categories on linear television and the factors influencing advertisers to showcase themselves in the IPL include the recency of launch of a new product or variant, among others. The tournament also helps brands get instantaneous reach and an omni presence across an entire season of high sales period.

“Delving deeper into the advertising categories, we saw initially that gaming, which had reached its peak during the 15th season, experienced a notable decline in season 16. But the current season exhibits a promising resurgence, showcasing growth compared to the preceding season. Conversely, pan masala surrogate ads peaked during the previous season but have seen a 30% decrease this year, yet they outperform their own spends from season 15 by 12%," he said.

On digital, the story is similar. E-commerce wallets are making a comeback after being absent in the 16th season. This could primarily be because Paytm is going through legal turmoil and other companies want to position their wallets as the prime choice. Additionally, advertising for products like air conditioners has risen over 40% in this season compared to the last, capitalising on the hot summer months.

Also, because of the broadcasters splitting up, while advertising rates have stabilised at similar levels to last year, it has generally become more expensive for advertisers to advertise.

This is because instead of advertisers getting a combined deal from the same broadcaster, they are now having to make separate deals with the two broadcasters—Star Sports for television — and Reliance’s Jio Cinema OTT platform for digital.

Because of this split, advertising revenues have shrunk overall. Broadcaster Disney Star was earlier showing the IPL on both digital and television, but the pool of revenue dropped from 4,600 crore in 2022 to about 4,000 crore in 2023, with Star receiving a majority of the revenue, Mint had earlier reported.

But this year too, advertising rates have been sluggish so far. Company budgets and other external factors like the general elections and the upcoming ICC Men's T20 World Cup in June have resulted in less spends on advertising for this season, said Sandeep Ranade, executive vice president and head of quantitative research division of Hansa Research.

“Most advertisers are concerned about whether they should use up their entire advertising budgets in Q1 or hold off till Q2 when the World Cup happens," he said.

He added that while brands and sponsors or associate sponsors get high visibility, the data they have collected from the first two weeks shows that, as expected, it is Dream11, which creates advertising specifically for the IPL, that is the most recalled brand followed by Tata group's Tata Neu and Tata cars, according to research from Hansa Research.

In the top 10 are also surrogate brand Vimal Elaichi and HDFC Bank's Payzapp, Rupay and AngelOne, which have replaced Cred in terms of spontaneous brand recall value. There was also My11Circle, which was more prominent this year but is advertising a little less.

“This year, the percentage of people watching the IPL on digital has also increased and we have observed that most of them are seen streaming them on their connected TV screens more than last year", said Ranade. “In general, we have observed that TV and digital are at par this year, for now at least. We will wait for another week of data to come in to see how the season has panned out. The first two weeks have seen some front loading of some companies' media plans, but surely more brands could be added as the season reaches the end," he added.

Mint had earlier also reported that the cost for advertisers on Star Sports is 12.5 lakh for a 10-second slot in SD (standard definition) and 5.3 lakh for HD (high definition). On Jio Cinema’s platform, sponsors will pay 200 per thousand impressions (CPM) for ads displayed before and after matches. The cost for a spot on connected TV is 6.5 lakh. It’s important to note that these advertising rates are similar to those of the previous year. The season began on 22 March and will go on till 26 May.

A recent survey concluded this week by Kadence International and Crisp Insights on ‘day-after recall of IPL ads’ said that viewers typically remember only 3-5 brands out of the many advertised during an IPL match, highlighting that there is intense competition for viewer attention during the cricketing tournament.

There is also a positive link between viewer engagement and brand recall—viewers who are more engaged with the game are more likely to remember the brands advertised. Interestingly, the survey showed that viewers watching on mobile screens have better brand recall compared to those watching on larger screens. This suggests that the way people consume IPL is changing.

However, more and more brands are fighting for space with each passing year. As many as 175 of them are associated with the teams, the broadcast or the event, and getting noticed is becoming a huge challenge, especially in terms of assessing a return on investment (RoI) for brands because of the mode of association. To date, Dream11, Tata Group, Jio, My11Circle, RuPay and CEAT are the most recalled brands, the Kadence survey said.

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