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IPL 2020: The Ad Games In ‘Live’ Begins

Despite the IPL rush, the rise of digital companies sponsoring the forum and overcoming challenges, there are still certain areas that marketers need to better understand to ensure the property works harder for them.

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IPL 2020: The Ad Games In ‘Live’ Begins

The progress of IPL 2020 despite the several challenges marks the hope that many have not only for the sports genre, but also for the ‘live’ component. Live sports is among one of the toughest formats for programming and cracking this will open several doors for content creators. However, despite the IPL rush, the rise of digital companies sponsoring the forum and overcoming challenges, there are still certain areas that marketers need to better understand to ensure the property works harder for them, delivering a strong return on investment (ROI). 

The Premier League and the NBA had already begun rolling, and since September 19, IPL has done it fair bit to keep audiences engaged despite change in venue, reduced audiences and concerns that had come about such as team health issues and the likes.  

The Many Effects

Understanding how the game being beamed in India but played in UAE will affect the ecosystem, Ankur Kalra, CEO, Vibgyor Brand Services explained, “We are a cricket-crazy country. It doesn’t matter where it is played. Cricket as a large ecosystem, has multiple ecosystems within, physical being one of them (including the stalls, stands, audiences, etc.). But today, there are so many brands carry out successful campaigns, where the physical nature of the game doesn’t matter. While the players may miss the adrenalin rush, the brands would not because of technology and multiple mediums. The brands would still be able to excel in their campaigns, no matter where the game is being played.” 

Even from a brand’s perspective, the return of Live sports serves as a window for them to re-connect with their audience and garner eyeballs. Komal Mehra, Head, Sports Initiatives & Associations, Usha International explains the chain reaction that is triggered, stating, “It is a wonderful opportunity as the country is starving for cricket. Fans are eager to watch something live and fresh, after a pause of five months. With other international sports in play, you still want to see the Indian counterparts, especially the Indian cricketers. As a consumer durable brand, nothing like IPL around the festive season. It is sure a tough time for the brand, but we aim to utilise this in the best possible way.” 

The Paramount Play 

It is not a first that IPL is witnessing umpteen challenges. Despite sailing through its share of ups and downs, it has managed to keep itself going through the thick and thin, turning BCCI into a superpower in world cricket. 

Sharing his thoughts on how significant the IPL is today, both for brands and agencies, Mohit Joshi, Managing Director, Havas Media Group India says, “We look forward to this each year. The marketing calendars of our clients are made keeping IPL in mind. It has become a part and parcel of our annual review. Given this year’s pandemic, all the plans went berserk. However, it is a key property for all stakeholders- clients, partners, agencies, etc. Hence, we look at it from a business perspective, and not just entertainment item.”  

Sponsorship Strain 

It is no hidden fact that IPL offers a great opportunity to brands to showcase themselves on the biggest cricketing league, yet changes are happening in sponsorship structure that the BCCI had for the tournament. What began with Vivo’s exit, was followed with several other hurdles in a bad year. Joshi opines here, “It is a year of unprecedented events and full of challenges for all. Initially, we were not even sure if IPL would be played this year. So, when we started reaching out our clients in June, there was an apprehension surrounding the conversations. There were alternate plans being created.  

When IPL was confirmed to take place, we re-oriented the plans. So, given that you don’t have as many budgets as last year to put on IPL, it has definitely impacted the extent of sponsorships that IPL is generating this year. The money is finite. Despite all this, we have sponsors with BCCI and on-air front. Many marketers showed interest in buying the property, not as a sponsor but as a regular presence partner. So, I was expecting the compromises that the IPL would bring along, but I am happy the way it has progressed overcoming handicaps.” 

‘Ensuring that it delivers’ 

Traditionally, IPL has been a reach-impact medium, but this year, given the situation, every marketer wants to know what is going to be the return on even a penny spent. This poses a bigger challenge for the media agencies to crunch the numbers, deliver the best ROI and present a realistic view of what brands are expecting. 

“I believe in ‘no risk no pain no gain’. Looking at how IPL works, I am not sure if we can ever build it using a traditional ROI metric. It is much more than that. Numbers are of course one side of it, but the whole qualitative feel of the brand IPL is what lends itself that credibility and brings the brands to it. It is not easy to prove these numbers,” said Vanita Keswani, CEO Madison Media Sigma at Madison World. 

Revival of Live Sport has the ability to send a signal to the masses that all is not lost and there is a sense of positivity and normalcy that the society is heading towards. Raman Bhanot, Cricket Commentator and Columnist is optimistic. He states, “IPL has been a pathbreaker for leagues in the country. And once again it will lead the way for the revival of live sport for Indian audiences. The IPL is a mini economic ecosystem in itself and even though it is not happening in India but the UAE, it will still positively impact the advertising, media & sports broadcasting industry.” 

As for the lack of the audience applause, the players were rearing to come back to the field, which has been evident in the games so far. “IPL 2020 is like light at the end of the tunnel. Every player is ready to play with all his head and heart. Deep down, they are switched on for the game. However, it is a challenge for the match-winning players since there is no audience. These players feed from the cheer and excitement in the stadium, which will be absent this time. You hit a 4 or 6 and there is no reassurance coming in from the audience, that brings the morale down a little,” observed Nikhil Chopra, Former Indian Cricketer.  

We know that India is a ‘sports, sports and more sports’ country. Despite being offshore this year, nothing has slumped the spirit of cricket.