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IPL & FMCG Brands- The Winning Duo

Shout out to all FMCG brands advertising in IPL and leveraging the best of its benefits. We are loving the mutual adulation

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The roaring is all set to return! And we don't just mean the gusto amongst fans…

With IPL 2021 around the corner, it is time to welcome teams, organisers, audiences and advertisers back in the game. The past year has sure been a bolt from the blue, but with this sporting event returning to field, cheery times are expected in the coming days.                                                 

While consumer sentiment appears to be positive, advertisers too are eyeing on this big game to drive engagement and business. With their plans set and budgets kept aside, they are anticipating great returns. 

Driven by scale, conversation and conversion, IPL is a favourable proposition for all kinds of categories ranging from BFSI, e-commerce, auto-motive, beverages, digital start-ups, handsets and consumer durables and more. Recently, we have also witnessed an increased inclination and engagement from FMCG brands that see value in the IPL broadcast associations, with returns not just limited to reach and awareness, but also ability to meaningfully change perception and attitudes for a category. This was apparent from a 2x increase in FMCG sponsors on IPL 2020 vs IPL 2019, where P&G, ITC, Adani, Mondelez, Coca Cola, HUL, Nestle, Reckit Benckiser, GSK, Pepsi, etc., came out to be some of the biggest spenders.

“IPL as a property, unequivocally offers brands what they want the most – unparalleled reach across the length and breadth of the country and generating high TOM recall. The IPL has a strong, diverse and massive viewership of more than 450 million on television as per research reports. This is even higher than several other large properties on GEC channels put together. This high visibility that IPL offers makes it an extremely attractive and lucrative association for FMCG brands,” expresses Madhur Pandey, Vice President-Marketing, Parle Agro.


Smart Brands, Smarter Investments

There is no two ways on the popularity and broadcast reach of the mammoth that IPL is. Giving credence to the BARC ratings, there has been a 23% growth in IPL ratings, along with an increase in IPL leadership gap, which means that during a live match, its viewership share is more than 6x of next best channel

Additionally, IPL proffers a more premium and clutter-free environment for brands, as the ad breaks are shorter. The average break duration on IPL is <1 min with nothing more than 4 ads per break, while it is 5 min on other genres adding up to 25 ads per break. 

Another feather in IPL’s cap is the surge in female viewership, which eventually gives an advantage to female-focused FMCG brands to invest in the platform. Lesser-known fact is that IPL is the single largest aggregator of women audiences. Women have come out to be more involved and interested in the sports and also seen backing teams and players.

In fact, IPL garnered a 1.8x higher female viewer attention compared to traditionally female viewer centric shows on GEC, as per TVision reports. Interestingly, the 2020 season recorded a 21% growth in female viewership

“There are various reasons attributing to the increase of women viewers for the IPL. Firstly, the IPL as a property is no longer just about cricket as a sport. It’s a platform with programming that is integrated with entertainment and Bollywood. It’s like a family entertainment drama, wherein you are trying to see if your team or your state is going to reach the semi-finals or the finals, which are similar to the plots in GECs on daily soaps and other family programmes. Second, the regional language strategy is also another key factor that’s bringing in the women audience. And third, as opposed to the long format of the cricket matches, the format of the IPL is shorter and fast paced. It guarantees excitement, suspense, and thrill in almost every minute of the action which creates a spectacle for all,” believes Pandey.

These, clubbed with a plethora of other benefits, testify for FMCG companies to leverage IPL for a portfolio of both- premium and mass brands. They also associate with the game for region-specific campaigns across various feeds based on brand priorities. Coca-Cola’s example for their portfolio, where the Cola drink was on the English & Hindi feed, Maaza and Sprite on Tamil feed, Thumbs Up on Telugu & Kannada feed, is a case in point.

“Cricket is our country’s greatest passion and IPL is definitely a nation-wide celebration that commands a significant amount of audience attention and love. Given the scale of the event, it is indeed a great avenue and opportunity for every brand to further strengthen its consumer connect,” shares Sameer Yadav, Associate Director – Marketing (Chocolates), Mondelez India

The brand has been leveraging this national phenomenon for the past couple of years to create greater salience for some of its brands and most recently their broader purpose of generosity through our ‘Kuch Acha Ho Jaye, Kuch Meetha Ho Jaye’ proposition. Their #SayThankYou campaign that was brought to life during the IPL season through their association with Mumbai Indians and Star Network, was aimed at changing lives of 5,000 members of the unorganized laborer community, by donating two health insurance policies for each run that the Mumbai Indian’s team scored.

Going back a little, Mondelez’s Cadbury associated with IPL on TV with an aim to replace traditional mithai exchanges in India. The brand leveraged IPL broadcast not just for reach and awareness, but the co-viewing nature, high-attention and high OTS. Within an 8 weeks period, it garnered greater-value in media effectiveness, which through regular media plans would take 4-6 months to deliver.

Apart from regular ads by Cadbury, they partnered with Star Sports to do a special integration by creating a ‘Thank you day’, that aimed at bringing alive the gratitude of their ‘thank you campaign’. As a result, it generated very high attention and recall for Cadbuy ads and uplifted brand metrics and intent to purchase scores across its portfolio.


Pandey also explains how IPL has been a game-changer for Frooti, “We started advertising with IPL for Frooti in the summer of 2014, since most of the investment for the brand happens in this season. As a result of our marketing strategies, including our association with IPL, it helped propel visibility for Frooti during this period.”


IPL Backs Advertiser Expectations

There was an unprecedented time spent on IPL by Indians in the last season, primarily because of the grim situation in life and lack of good fresh content. Hence, the property played a much larger role than before and will continue to be an appropriate platform to help build brand saliency and equity

Donning the expert hat, Shuvadip Banerjee, VP-Marketing Services, ITC points some of the key expectations that FMCG brands have from IPL that other big-ticket properties do not fulfil. 

  • It should not only provide a much larger 1+ Reach but should be able to have a significantly higher reach at 5+ when compared to cumulative performance of a few top programs for each media market
  • Women viewership should be retained at the same level of IPL 13, if not better
  • Smart brand integration opportunities should continue to exist and newer avenues should be explored to increase brand engagement

Drawing superior results from ITC’s association with IPL 2020, the brand aspired for acceleration in Yippee! and Savlon’s momentum, Sunfeast Bounce establishing a larger purpose with its ‘Andar Ka Baccha Bahar Lao’ campaign and improvised positioning of Sunfeast Dark Fantasy. And it righteously achieved so.

For this, the brand’s communication kept cricket to its core. Use of multi-media vehicles & immersive content was key to ramp up the engagement and contests were also run on social media. In addition, ITC worked in collaboration with Star to create branded content with two of the IPL team captains.

Gauging the overall impact of the partnership, ads aired during IPL drove positive outcomes and attention towards an ad during IPL was at least one and a half times more than the same ad on any other programme. Benefits like spontaneous awareness, key message delivery and purchase intention were also witnessed.

Convinced that IPL is a lucrative platform and that a symbiotic relation exists between advertisers and the game, Banerjee asserts that both big and small brands fetch the requisite attention and engagement, given the fondness towards the game, “Not just the big spenders, but in fact, for smaller brands or challenger brands, IPL is a great platform to achieve rapid saliency and depth of awareness. It is only a function of the put down value, which stops from many such small brands to invest.”


Time To Hit A Six

We are aware that international multi-country format has limited India matches and there is a fear of till which level in the tournament will India reach. However, in case of IPL, it is like a carnival, with no such connects or constraints. Every match has set of viewers and every part of the country is important to remain salient, especially for an FMCG brand. 

While viewership numbers remain to be the prime parameter, factors such as market share, year-on-year growth, top of mind, spontaneous awareness and other internal growth measures, etc. are also on a brand marketer’s radar, especially in case of FMCG products. Hence, IPL broadcast in this regard is everything coming up roses for advertisers. Its dynamic and stimulating regional penetration helps FMCG brands in expanding and growing their audience reach, which makes it a big win for them. The higher the reach, the higher is the TOM generated, and a soaring TOM helps create aggressive sales.

Given the benefits, diverse audience demographics and ROI, it is time for marketers to strategically craft and align their agendas to mark their presence on TV better and reach a wider audience base. 


Tags assigned to this article:
Shuvadip Banerjee Madhur Pandey Sameer Yadav IPL 2021