Brands ride the social media wave during IPL 9

MUMBAI: Come a new Indian Premiere League season and every sponsor and brand associate is ready to go all guns blazing and make the best out of every penny they have invested in this magnum opus of a cricketing tournament.

According to reports, somewhere between Rs 1000 crore to Rs 1,200 crore is being spent on advertising and sponsorship this IPL season. With over 80 sponsors riding on, there is no doubt that the campaign space surrounding IPL 9 is nothing short of war zone. To cut above the noise, brands are looking to digital media to allow them to be innovative with their brand communication. Having a branding presence on the jersey or standing out with on ground sponsorship is no longer enough to feel reassured at your marketing efforts, unless it is packaged effectively with online engagement with IPL fans, because 70 per cent fans bring their mobile devices to share in stadia experiences and 46 percent mobile internet users search for sporting events and news (Source: ESP Properties- SportzPower Report 2016).

Therefore social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter and Instagram are playing a major role in leveraging the brand's online presence this IPL season. At the same time, thanks to IPL, the over conversations and user engagements on these social media platforms have also increased manifold.

“After a successful partnership at the previous IPL edition where more than 29 million (2.9 crore) people engaged on Facebook, for the first time this season IPL, fans can support their favourite teams by adding exclusive frames - something that fans have already done more that 7.5 million (75 lakh) times so far. People will also have an opportunity to express their support through exciting features like dedicated prompts featuring an all new custom icon to let their friends know they're watching the game. With Facebook Live fans are able to get closer to the action than ever before and on match days fans can watch videos and see images directly from the stadium and relive key moments from the IPL Facebook page and Instagram accounts,” shared Facebook India sports -- strategic partner development head Asha Thacker.

Twitter is the other social media giant that is driving the brands’ digital presence this IPL. YouTube, on the other hand, redefines the experience of watching and enjoying IPL through live chat making it more social and further integrating it with Google+.

To keep their fans engaged popular cricket stars such as Virat Kohli and Yuvraj Sigh are also actively present on social media, driving the fanfare. As per data collected from Instagram, Top Players on Instagram were Virat Kolhi with 3 million impressions (30 lakh), followed by AB de Villiers and Yuvraj Singh with 1 million (10 lakh) impression each. When it came to Facebook, the most popular player is Virat Kolhi, with Yuvraj Singh on the second spot and Rohit Sharma as third.

Unlike last few seasons of IPL, it isn’t the title sponsor that is making the most impressions on social media during IPL season 9 till now, but Vodafone, which is stealing the online show with its aggressive digital marketing. According to Maxus’ MESH data, Vodafone continues to be at the number one spot with its new ‘Super Dad’ spot that promotes SuperNet. It was the most talked about ad in between 30th April and 6 May with a clear lead from the rest of the contenders when it comes to driving online presence. Its hashtags #hakkeBakke and #besuper hashtag got attention on Twitter, too.

The brand has also launched the SuperFan contest which it is promoting through a dedicated microsite. Using Facebook to its advantage, Vodafone has launched several Facebook only content on its pages, where winners of the contest can share their ‘Superfan Life’ photos and videos.

Title sponsor Vivo has its own innovative way to grab the attention of the netizens. Riding on the popular culture of betting and predictions amongst cricket fans, the Chinese technology giant has started an interactive website VIVO Power Play that allows users to predict winners of every match. The brand is heavily promoting its ‘gaming’ platform through Twitter, Facebook and other social media platforms.

Moreover the brand’s recently launched campaign Ek India Happywalla also garnered huge traction through social media making it the second most talked about campaign between April 30 and 6 May.

Apart from VIVO, several other mobile manufacturers are also using the IPL fanfare to their advantage to gain visibility in the market. A good example is Chinese manufacturer Oppo that has done an excellent job in marketing its new product, with the #OppoCameraPhone becoming the third most talked about campaign on the social media.

United Breweries’ flagship alco beverage brand Kingfisher has also ensured a strong presence this IPL season by signing deals with multiple teams.
In the two and a half weeks since the beginning of the season, Kingfisher has already integrated the use of Boomerang & MSQRD apps. Users have created their own content through these apps as responses to calls-to-action from the brand, which were then amplified through brand social handles. The annual brand cricket TVC, which has taken on an iconic status thanks to the Oo La La La Le O jingle, is pushed out to a focused target group through precise targeting and planning, making sure the #UnitedByGoodTimes message reaches a relevant audience.

“Our association with Facebook is deeper and wider than ever before. Newer younger consumers are looking for compelling narratives, smarter technology and disruptive messaging. Not only are they digitally enabled, they are also mobile first. Kingfisher and Facebook have come together to address precisely this consumer behaviour over the biggest and most loved sporting event in India, cricket. Kingfisher fans can look forward to ‘'Money can’t buy’' experiences on Facebook,” shared United Breweries, SVP Marketing, Samar Singh Sheikhawat.

Not just the eCommerce and digitally inclined brands like Kingfisher which focus on youth, but several FMCG brands like associate sponsor of Rising Pune Supergiants, Cargill Foods India, has joined the digital marketing bandwagon this season with their association with the sporting league.

“We have initiated several promotions on digital platforms to engage with our consumers and with the trade community. The Gemini Facebook page has a lot of content on the IPL season. We have also done activation for Cargill employees, wherein players’ cut-outs are placed at multiple locations in our offices. People can click pictures and share the same on their social network by tagging the Gemini page and stand a chance to win prizes. Apart from this, we are also running a recipe contest on our Facebook and YouTube pages. The winning entry will get a chance to make the Pune team members taste their recipe,” said Cargill Foods India CMO Neelima Burra.

Brand IPL has itself maintained a strong presence on social networks this season. Between April 7 to April 20, Facebook witnessed 8 million (80 lakh) Profile Frames being used as this is also the first time this season IPL Fans can support their favourite teams by adding exclusive frames. Moreover 14.2 million (1.42 crore) people generated 111 million (11.1 crore) interactions around the Indian Premier League.

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