Brands like Oppo, Xiaomi, Realme, OnePlus take up premium ad slots, with Vivo being the title sponsor
IPL 2020 is set to begin in UAE on 19 Sep and BCCI will be deciding on retaining Chinese sponsors
Chinese brands are expected to spend ₹700 crore to advertise during the Indian Premier League (IPL) 2020, which begins in the United Arab Emirates on 19 September, media buyers said, with the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) deciding to retain Chinese sponsors.
Chinese mobile phone brand Vivo had been paying ₹440 crore annually as IPL’s title sponsorship fee since 2018 for a five-year period. It also invests heavily on television advertising and dealer engagement and offers estimated to be around ₹150 crore during the two-month long T20 tournament.
A bunch of other Chinese smartphone brands also spend a lot of money on the tournament. Brands such as Oppo, Xiaomi, Realme, and OnePlus take up premium ad slots, spending more than ₹500 crore of on-air advertising money throughout the tournament, according to estimates of media buyers.
“The Chinese brands were quite visible on The Kapil Sharma Show as it returned to the screen after the lockdown hiatus. I presume Chinese mobiles will advertise on IPL too. They account for a substantial chunk of the advertising revenues that Star is expecting. In fact, their spends contribute about 20-25% of the total IPL revenues," said Sandeep Goyal, chairman, Mogae Media, a Mumbai-based marketing and communication agency.
The strategy of Chinese brands has been centred around leveraging big Bollywood and sports celebrities, bagging title sponsorship for sports properties for peak visibility, and concentrating advertising money on cricket.
Despite a campaign to boycott Chinese brands, smartphones from the northern neighbour continue to dominate the Indian market, justifying the advertising blitzkrieg on both offline and online platforms.
The lockdown put in place to contain the spread of coronavirus has created pent-up demand and made consumers realize that technology is important as they continue to work from home. Handset industry executives expect consumers to continue investing in these products.
Vivo India launched a high-decibel campaign with actor Aamir Khan to promote its camera-focused V-series models in June. The company has been highlighting its India-focused approach to create a positive image amid the anti-China sentiment in India. The company, however, chose not to comment on its IPL plans.
Xiaomi India was an early adopter of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Make in India initiative, beginning local assembly of printed circuit boards.
“We manufacture 99% of the smartphones locally, with 65% of the value of the smartphone being locally sourced, and in the process have directly and indirectly created employment opportunities for more than 50,000 people to date, in the country. Our aim is to transform India into a global manufacturing hub and we have been actively contributing towards this," said a company spokesperson.
The government needs to come out with a medium- to long-term plan to reduce Chinese dependence in strategic areas such as pharmaceuticals and telecom, said Biswajit Dhar, professor of trade, Jawaharlal Nehru University. “Decoupling from China has to be carefully done and it has to be a well thought out process and not a knee-jerk one. India’s economy right now is too dependent on China," he said. The sponsorship of IPL is one area where government policy “seems unclear," he said. Taking loans from the China-led Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank is another, Dhar said.
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