IPL - More Than Just Cricket Or Marketing Extravaganza

Posted in Marketing & Strategy Articles, Total Reads: 6381 , Published on 02 June 2012
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The IPL fever had it the entire nation!!! And the bug had hit me hard… With this article I am trying to bring forward 2 points:

  • Is IPL a Marketing Genius or just pure passion
  • How can small-to-medium businesses benefit from it

Being an MBA student, the 2nd point was inevitable, isn’t it?;)

Let’s focus on the 1st question first. Being an avid reader that I am (Who else would have read 2 biographies of the same person – Sachin Tendulkar- written by 2 different authors), I had the urge to go through the articles that were written by cricket experts in 2008, the year of birth of IPL, just to see how much of what was speculated about the game and the format came true. Going through the search engine of cricinfo, I stumbled across an article that led me to ponder, “IPL- Marketing Genius or just pure passion?” IPL has been recognized the biggest innovation in sports and it was aimed at increasing the fan base of the sport so that it can become truly global. This is what Mr. Sambit Bal, editor cricinfo, had to say,

IPL

Even the most stone-hearted Twenty20 cynic- I have moved to an agnostic middle ground - will concede this: the Indian Premier League has delivered on its promise. There has been plenty of action and entertainment. There has been passion and commitment from the players, the cricket has been competitive, and the stands have been full. And it has achieved what seemed impossible.

In a country where every citizen was thought to be a cricket fan, the IPL has unearthed even more fans. My wife, who has loathed cricket as if it were my mistress, has been to a game already. And she is soon to go to another. She is not alone. But the commercial success of the tournament should not be measured by how many are watching in the stands. It will finally come down to how many are watching on television.”

A little more help from Google’s search engines helped me satiate my thirst to check whether after 5 seasons, “the commercial success” mentioned above has been achieved or not.

Year

Season

No. of Matches

Avg. TVR %

Cumulative Reach ‘000s

2008

IPL 1

*47

4.72

98988

2009

IPL 2

*46

4.05

118698

2010

IPL 3

48

4.53

137049

2011

IPL 4

*47

3.54

152720

2012

IPL 5

*46

3.40

151585

(Source: TAM Sports; Market: All India; TG: CS 4+ yrs; Period: Wk 14 to 18, 2012; this data is for first 48 matches of all IPL seasons.)

* In IPL 1 one match (47th) was abandoned due to rain

* In IPL 2 two matches (7th & 13th) were abandoned due to rain

* In IPL 4 one match (20th) was abandoned due to rain

* In IPL 5 two matches (32th & 34th) were abandoned due to rain

2 points here are noteworthy:

  • Average TVR% has been constantly going down
  • Cumulative reach has been constantly going up

So the question still remains- Has IPL been a marketing success or only pure passion? Going by the increase in the Cumulative reach, one can say that the fan base has increased. But does one say off the dwindling Average TVR%? It could mean 2 things

  • Either, the ardent fans are slowly going away while IPL committee is trying to reach more and more fans
  • Or, the fans have become intelligent and know what matches to watch and what matches to give a miss. Therefore the average going down.

This is what, Janardhan Pandey, Associate Vice President, DDB Mudra Group had to say:

“Despite what is being said, the sport remains most popular and the reach deliveries also seem to be in line with our expectations. Maybe it’s a period of stabilization for IPL20 viewership. It cannot be doing excellent forever after all. There were many issues to start with such as overdose of cricket & the consistent poor performance by Indian cricket team. Keeping all those factors in mind I will give thumbs up to overall performance of IPL 5.”

For more inquisitive minds, some more facts regarding IPL 5

IPL matches

Avg TVR%

First 16 matches

3.65

First 27 matches

3.53

First 36 matches

3.41

How can small and medium businesses benefit from IPL

Although, we have dwindling TVR%, however, the increased cumulative reach and the underlined statement above are some things that gives me confidence and inspiration. Let me give you some more facts that might help us in coming to my 2nd point.

Some observations from the TAM Sports IPL study:

  • IPL 3 & 4 both garnered maximum contribution from CS 35 + age group whereas IPL Season 4 saw increase in kids viewing.
  • Commercial advertising during IPL Season 4 increased by 21% as compared to that of IPL Season 3.
  • 57 brands got exposure through 16 accessories platforms and contributed 2% share of the total ‘In-stadia’ advertising.

So what is in it for the small – medium businesses? Since the teams are allowed only 9 sponsors logos on the uniforms, the others can pay lesser money for limited rights. The limited rights could be a mix of many things, depending on the negotiations, ranging from displaying logos on the team’s website to allowing the brand to use the team’s logo in its advertising. As per the stats, while a logo on the jersey’s front, or its sleeves costs anywhere between $4 and $5 million, the brands that do not make to the jerseys can pay a lot less, and still manage a good enough publicity. Here are a few examples:

Company

Team

Partner Type

Burn Fitness Port

Deccan Chargers

Gym Partner

Shivdeep Insudtries Ltd.

Rajasthan Royals

Snack Partner

Saj Food Products Pvt. Ltd.

Kolkata Knight Riders

Tea-Time Refreshment Partner

Opium Spas

Deccan Chargers

Spa Partner

Source: www.livemint.com

So, let’s look at the tradeoff now. The companies bag the right to use the team’s logo alongside its own logo for the rest of the contract period. This includes the advertisements, pamphlets, stationary and hoardings. In return, it allows the team players to use the facility that the company provides. So by shelling out somewhere between Rs. 50 lakhs to 75 lakhs, the business gets the required publicity and the team saves a lot on the logistics and operational costs. A win-win situation, one must say.

Wait, there is more. Considering the fees that top stars of the class of Sachin, Sehwag, Gambhir, et al, charge, why not rope in the new finds of the season to be your brand ambassadors? Considering the fact that these small businesses are anyways looking for local publicity and the kind of loyalty that the spectators have been showing towards their own sate’s team, I feel, that would not be a bad idea. Every year, IPL throws introduces some little known names that perform even better than the big names in that team.

A follower of IPL would remember names of Ravinder Jadeja, Paul Valthaty, Ajinkya Rahane and the latest ones of Mandeep Singh and Parvinder Awana, and how they have helped their team win matches in the past IPLs till now. So why not a “local suiting and shirting in Rajasthan” company get Ajinkya Rahane to be their face on the company Hoardings, or a “local eye gear company in Punjab” gets the faces of Mandeep Singh and Parvinder Awana up on their advertisements. Since they are only new to the world of glory, it would not be really difficult to get them on-board at the prices that are easy on the pockets of the small-medium businesses.

The way Forward

So, net-net if you see, IPL has been the biggest think that could happen to cricket,  but there is a lot more to it than just the coming together of cricket, bollywood and giant corporate wizards. All one needs to do is have an eye and acumen to use it for your benefit.

This article has been authored by Anubhav S Gujral and Abhilasha Rampal from Fore School of Management.


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