Call this the “buzziest” time of the year, with two marquee cricket properties taking each other head on and culminating things to a nail-biting finish. The ICC World Cup 2015 begins February 14 and will see the captain M S Dhoni-led men in blue defending the title against 13 other international teams. Meanwhile the Indian Premier League (IPL) in its eight season will blaze off in April, carry on till May and will take franchise fever to new levels. Star India is the television broadcaster for the World Cup and will telecast the matches in six regional languages which includes Bengali, Tamil, Malayalam and Kannada, in addition to high definition feeds. The network has already signed up Maruti, Nestle. Marico, Yepme.com, Paytm, Raymond, Lloyd, IBall as on-air sponsors. The addition of southern languages has resulted in significant interest from regional advertisers such as TI Cycles, Dixcy, Manappuram, etc.
Sanjay Gupta, chief operating officer, Star India says that the network “will leave no stone unturned to make this the biggest sporting spectacle in the country”. With India being the defending champion, this edition will be even bigger, he says. “The last edition of the World Cup witnessed the biggest aggregation of consumers possible with 90% of TV viewers in the country tuned in. On the back of different feeds, Star has created sponsorship and spot buying options for English, Hindi, language and high definition feeds. Star has multiple package options that will help advertisers sharply targetted regional campaigns. This is a pioneering move in sports sponsorship and we are seeing great response from advertisers in regional markets.” He points out that this model can provide flexibility in relevant language commercials and integrations.
Star has begun what it calls “The ICC World Cup Trophy Tour” where it showcases the ICC World Cup trophy in malls, cricket grounds and educational institutions in cities such as Ranchi, Delhi, Nagpur, Mumbai and Jamnagar. “Our marketing blitz started with a campaign on Sachin Tendulkar, invoking India to “chase the dream” and (to yet again) win the World Cup, the most coveted prize in international cricket. We also unveiled our youth-centric World Cup campaign titled ‘#wontgiveitback’ which reflects the young nation’s attitude and mood for the World Cup as the men in blue prepare to fend off 13 other teams and defend their title.” adds Gupta.
Most of the sponsors said that they are associating with the World Cup event because of the pan-India coverage and fervour associated with the game. World Cup rates are pegged at R3-4 lakh for 10 seconds.
Manohar Bhat, vice president-marketing at Maruti Suzuki India, said, “We were the associate sponsors in the previous edition too. The ICC World Cup is one event that captures the imagination of all types of audiences. It gives us pan-India coverage and we are able to reach diverse audiences through one event. Also, the pride and joy associated with this event brings great equity to brands that are partnering with it.”
Another on-air sponsor Raymond said that it will have new launches. Ritesh Ghosal, chief marketing officer—lifestyle business, Raymond Ltd, said, “With the WC being scheduled right before the onset of summer this year, it’s perfect for us to launch our new product offerings. Raymond will be showcasing its premium made-to-measure proposition during the World Cup and also launching its new linen line for the summer.”
MSM, the official broadcaster for IPL, on the other hand, is expected to sign up a leading telecom brand and an e-commerce brand as presenting sponsors. An e-commerce vertical, a handset maker, a fast moving consumer goods brand and a four-wheeler brand are expected to come in as associate sponsors for the IPL.
Rohit Gupta, president at MSM, has come under much fire for pitching the ad rates of the IPL at a 10-15% premium over the previous year. Last year, ad inventory for the IPL sold at R4.5 lakh for 10 seconds.But Gupta defends his decision. “The increased ad rates are justified because of the positive advertiser sentiment. There is a sense of buoyancy in the ad market, since it’s a brand new year,” said Gupta. “The IPL has consistently out- performed for seven straight seasons. The ICC World Cup is a different story because the ratings for ODI matches has been falling. Matches that once got a 4-plus rating, now garner a rating of 2.” said Gupta. In his view, this edition of the World Cup cannot possibly be compared to 2011, because the event was scheduled in India at that point in time. This time it is being held in Australia and New Zealand and the matches will be played at night as per India time. “Some of the matches involving India could be of low interest such as those versus Zimbabwe, the UAE, or Afghanistan. The IPL has proved time and time again that it is a stable,” he remarks.
Navin Khemka, managing partner (north and east) at Maxus, GroupM India said that the rates on the IPL are a function of demand and supply.
“The market is buoyant right now, and advertisers are looking to make investments on high decibel properties. The broadcaster is justified in trying to make the most of it. But on the flip side, it needs to also take into account just how much disposable cash there is in the market,” he said.