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Photo: PTI
Photo: PTI

Brands tap IPL spirit without sponsorship

  • Majority of the moment marketing campaigns are done by brands that are cautious not to default on BCCI guidelines

A clutch of firms—without the means or the willingness to join the ranks of deep-pocketed sponsors advertising in the Indian Premier League (IPL)—are basking in the spotlight on the event by inserting the cricket tournament in their advertising.

These brands are jumping into online conversations —whether it is Chennai Super Kings’ M.S. Dhoni’s winning streak or Rajasthan Royals’ Rahul Tewatia’s string of sixers—through what they call moment-marketing campaigns. Dating app Tinder, furniture brand Nilkamal and delivery startup Dunzo are among dozens of companies that are creating witty campaigns using memes, GIFs and social media posts to subtly weave their products/services in a trending conversation around the IPL on digital platforms.

The biggest trick to drive engagement on social media is through moment marketing, said Shradha Agarwal, co-founder and chief operating officer at Grapes Digital. “This is a very important content bucket in every social strategy and occupies approximately 20% of media budgets of every brand and can go as high as 60% for brands such as Manforce condoms," she added.

Sports bodies and sponsors argue ambush campaigns damage not only their interests but also the interests of sportsmen and the sports itself.

The majority of the moment marketing campaigns are often done by brands that are cautious not to default on the guidelines of Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI). The sports body doesn’t allow non-sponsor brands to use protected trademarks such as full team names, players wearing official jerseys and logos. “We have also hired law firm Copyright Integrity International to keep tabs on violations," a BCCI official said on the condition of anonymity.

“Brands have to creatively design campaigns. I remember in the 1996 Cricket World Cup, when Coca-Cola became the official drink, Pepsi responded by running a series of ads under the tagline, “Nothing official about it", implying that nobody cared about which drink was official because everyone chose only Pepsi. It was fantastic ambush marketing," said Shrenik Gandhi, chief executive officer and co-founder of digital marketing agency White Rivers Media.

The moment marketing campaigns are often quirky creatives, asking customers to participate in challenges and win prizes, promoting services through Instagram or Facebook posts or a simple Twitter thread talking about a match or a player.

Tinder India, for instance, tweeted “Is Rahul Tewatia single? Asking for a friend," after the Rajasthan Royals player hit five sixes in one over. The Twitter thread went viral with memes and hilarious replies, including one from his IPL team, creating high engagement for the dating app.

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