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LG boycotts, Samsung grabs associate sponsorship on MAX

NEW DELHI / MUMBAI: After LG Electronics India, one of the title sponsors of the ICC Cricket World Cup, decided it would totally boycott Sony Entertainment Television (SET) as regards advertising because its "rates were too high", bitter rival Samsung has grabbed that space.

Samsung India has become the associate sponsor on MAX in the home appliances category for the World Cup. "We got the deal after LG refused an offer (LG had first right of refusal being one of the official sponsors) from Sony," Samsung India's director, R Zutshi, told indiantelevision.com today during a press conference here to announce the company's plans for this year and the first quarter targets it had set for itself as a fallout of the cricket fever which is likely to be unleashed in India.

He, however, refused to divulge the financial details of the deal with Sony.

Asked whether Samsung's deal with Sony would clash with the interests of official World Cup sponsor LG India, Zutshi said, "Everything has been done as per ICC rules and regulations and we don't think we will be flouting any rules (arising out of the ambush

marketing issue)."

According to Zutshi, "The company thought that a satellite channel is still a better deal as premium viewers would come on to SET MAX for premium cricket. However, we will buy some spots on Doordarshan's terrestrial network too which will telecast the World

Cup matches."

With the sewing up of the Samsung deal, six of the seven sponsorships on offer have been sold with the last one expected to be tied up by next week, Sony network ad sales head Rohit Gupta told indiantelevision.com. Pepsi has taken the presenting sponsor slot while the remaining are associate sponsorships, Gupta said. The associate sponsors are Hero Honda, two Hindustan Levers' brands - Clinic and Close-Up - Samsung and one more "big advertiser" that Gupta was mum about, saying the deal only remained to be inked.

Gupta said that all the line ad inventory as well as the Extraaa Innings pre and post-match programming ads had been sold out.

Questioned as to what were the ad rates that Sony had managed thus far, Gupta said averaging it all out, spot buys had gone for about $ 7,000 per 30 seconds while the sponsorships were sold for $ 6,500.

Samsung budgets Rs 1250 million ad spend on sport for 2003 Cricket seems to be the peg around which Samsung India's first quarter targets have been set. "We plan to optimise our sales in the Q1 of 2003 and colour TV sets would be the main thrust area," Zutshi said, adding that the company is targeting selling some 2.3 million CTV sets as against 1.2 million sets during the same corresponding period last year.

The company is also targeting sales of Rs 28 billion for its consumer electronics and home appliances business in 2003.

Pointing out that Samsung India will be spending about Rs 1.25 billion in 2003 on various sporting events, including the World Cup, as part of its media campaigns, Zutshi said, "For the company sports like cricket are always a priority."

Asked whether Samsung would help in negotiating a solution for the bigger interest of cricket as the sponsorship deal involving Indian cricketers doesn't seem to have been resolved fully yet, Zutshi said, "We have always been with the players and will do everything to see that nothing untoward happens."

Further queried by indiantelevision.com whether any of the Indian cricketers who feature in the company's ads or the BCCI or any other sporting body has approached Samsung India, Zutshi said, "Nobody has approached us yet."

The cricketers who feature in Samsung ads include Rahul Dravid, Anil Kumble, V Sehwag and Harbhajan Singh.

The company, which has launched a new `Team Samsung' campaign series minus the seven Indian cricketers, plans to effectively leverage the campaign during the year to raise brand awareness. The campaign is also being done in some local Indian languages (especially South Indian languages).

To cash in on the cricket fever and optimize CTV sales in the first quarter, the company has announced that its `Team Samsung India First Offer' for the CTV category.

This promotion, valid from 15 January to 25 March, 2003, will offer various prizes to customers buying Samsung TV sets. The total value of the gifts is Rs 250 million, while the total cost of the promotion is worth about Rs 300 million. Rival LG meanwhile, is putting down even more ad bucks on this World Cup. Ganesh Mahalingam, general manager (marketing), has been quoted as saying Rs 350 million will be the ad spend for the World Cup.

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