IPL 7: Franchises still pitching for ads

Written by Anushree Bhattacharyya | New Delhi | Updated: Apr 14 2014, 18:29pm hrs
IplCoca-Cola, which held the pouring rights for Mumbai Indians for three years till last season, did not renew its contract this year.
With just a few days left for the seventh edition of the Indian Premier League (IPL) to get going, franchises are still struggling to get sponsors on board. Be it the old teams such as Kings XI Punjab or the GMR-owned Delhi Daredevils, or newbies such as Sunrisers Hyderabad, each one is struggling to clinch a few last-minute deals. This year has been bad for sponsorships. As of now, 60% of our inventory remains unsold, said Mohit Burman, co-owner, Kings XI Punjab.

Franchisees say recent controversies, uncertainty about the fate of the tournament this season and the decision to take the first half of IPL abroad have made sponsors wary.

In the case of Kings XI Punjab, the number of sponsors has come down to just two from 15 last year. Till last season, Kings XI Punjab had NVD Solar as its title sponsor for three years, along with Lux Cozi, ACC, Arise Inverters and Batteries, Raindrops Basmati, USL and McDowells No. 1 as its official team partners. Besides, it also had brand associations with Pavilion Sport, Noida University, Mountain Dew, Meshi Creations, 92.7 BIG FM, Kabirz and TK Sports. Burman says this season, as of now, USL and TK Sports are the only two sponsors the team has been able to retain.

Delhi Daredevils too has had its share of problems. The Muthoot Group, its title sponsor last year, for instance, has not signed on this year. The franchise after a long struggle finally managed to rope in e-commerce portal Quikr as its principal sponsor for this year. Muthoot, meanwhile, is not the only one keeping away. Some other big-ticket sponsors including Coca-Cola India, Bajaj Allianz, Matrix and consumer goods company Panasonic have also opted out this season. We have decided to stay away from the tournament this year as of now. Depending on how the games take off and how the viewership shapes up on television, we may buy advertising space in the future, said a senior official from Coca-Cola on condition of anonymity.

Coca-Cola, which held the pouring rights for Mumbai Indians for three years till last season, did not renew its contract this year.

Other franchisees such as Chennai Super Kings, Rajasthan Royals and Kolkata Knight Riders are facing a different challenge. While these teams have managed to get some sponsors on board, the sponsorship rates have dropped by 20-25%. Almost 30-40% of the inventory remains unsold as far as all franchises are concerned. Till last year we saw sponsors finalising deals almost a month before the tourney. But now its a wait and watch game, said RS Suriyanarayan, associate vice-president, Initiative Media.

Meanwhile, UltraTech, Rupa, Supertech, Amity, TCS, Garnier Men, Kingfisher, Pepsi, ICE X, My Heroes and Kooh Sports are some of the sponsors that have returned this year to Rajasthan Royals turf, while Integriti, Yatra.com, Deakin University are the newbies.

Manish Kumar, chief marketing officer of Kolkata Knight Riders, too, argues that the delay in the announcement of the venue and the controversies surrounding the tourney this year have impacted business. Also, as some of the matches will be played in Dubai, this has also reduced the scope of promotion and on-ground activation for local sponsors like Manyavar, added Kumar.

Rakesh Singh, head Chennai Super Kings, said that this year the franchise will witness a marginal increase of 10-12% in its revenues. This year, brands have been a little guarded in their moves. For instance, telecom services operator Aircel has bought fewer spots on our team gear. Earlier the brand had three spots. Likewise, Orbit Cable, the principal sponsor, has bought only one spot on the team jersey, said Singh.