'Extraaa Innings' and 'live' properties sold out -MAX

MUMBAI: The "last mile" syndrome seems to be catching up with the sales teams of the MAX-SET combine. The efforts that were initiated in May 2002 will be heading for a climactic finish by the end of January 2003.

The total spends on electronic channels are slated to be in the range of Rs 3.5 billion - probably around 10 per cent more if India progresses beyond the Super Sixes. Members of the ad sales teams are keeping their fingers crossed and hoping that "sheer talent" will beat the Indian team's "lack of technique".

Sony and MAX are aiming to sell most of the sponsorship packages and FCTs prior to the start of the World Cup. The few remaining ones that are left will be utilised for in-house promotions of Sony network's new serials and shows.

"If India makes it to the semi-finals, there might be a scramble. However, we shall charge a higher premium for the few spots that will be available at that point of time," says Sony Entertainment executive vice president, sales and revenue management Rohit Gupta

Sony's Gupta claims: "The live features are completely sold out. Extraaa Innings, which constitutes 10 per cent of the total revenues that would be generated are also fully sold out. Extraaa Innings has been sold as a sponsorship package and fixed buys basis and not as spot buys."

"Advertisers such as Sony TV, Yamaha bikes, HLL and SS Sanitary fittings have taken spots on Extraaa Innings. Predikta, in its newer and bigger version, has bagged several sponsors. Pepsi is the rpesenting sponsor and Toyota is the main jackpot sponsor. Amongst the eight-10 remaining sponsors are companies such as Timex watches," adds Gupta.

MAX has bagged several major advertisers such as Pepsi, Samsung, Hero Honda, Clinic, Close Up and Samsung. Media sources claim that the seventh sponsor is likely to be a telecom major and the eight one could be an advertiser from the petroelum or insurance sector.

However, Mindshare (buying agency for Hindustan Lever and HPCL) officials claim that they are not ready to confirm or deny whether the HLL brands have signed on the dotted lines. Media sources confirm that HLL brands will be definitely spending a huge amount during the forthcoming World Cup.

"The hot categories are telecom, white goods, two-wheelers and petroleum sector that has opened up in a big way. The petroleum sector has witnessed the phenomenon of brand differentiation in recent times is showing tremendous interest. The banking and insurance sector has also upped spends. However, some of the newer insurance clients have not yet committed as they have not received the requisite Reserve Bank of India clearances," says Sony's Gupta.

Media sources state that Bharat Petroleum's buying agency Zenith Media has been exploring several options and speaking to Sony. Hindustan Petroleum's buying agency Mindshare is also considering the various possibilities.

MAX and SET have bagged seven major sponsors for its telecast of the games. These presenting and associate sponsors would account for more than 50 per cent of the total value of the revenues generated.

"We are happy to announce that several advertisers who didn't use us during the Champions Trophy in 2002 have come back to us for the cricket World Cup 2003. Media planners and advertisers analysed the response that we got during the Champions Trophy and were keen to advertise with us this time around!" says Sony's Gupta.

During the Champions Trophy, MAX had not managed to elicit the required spends from several categories such as consumer durables. LG Electronics has chosen DD-Nimbus even for the forthcoming World Cup 2003. "We have bagged Samsung as one of the presenting sponsors. As far as LG is concerned, we believe that we have a commitment to our existing sponsors and cannot bend rules for the sake of one advertiser."

The spot buys would constitute another 40 per cent of the total value of the revenues generated. SET Max claims to have already sold around 80 per cent of the ad spots for the live telecast and other events around the World Cup telecast.

"All the major advertisers in India have bought spots. We have sold the spots at an average rate of US $7000/30 second spots, which is around 50 per cent more than the rates at which ESPN-Star Sports sold their spots last World Cup", claims Sony's Gupta.

If Sony manages to sell all its ad properties, a rough calculation shows their intake for the Cup will be roughly around the Rs 300 crore mark.

Gupta said that the sponsors will get between 210-450 seconds of advertising time per match at around Rs 1.1 lakh/10 second rates, while normal advertisers will get spots at Rs 1.25 lakh/10 seconds.

He said that SET Max was keeping the ads during the telecast of the matches quite low. ?We won?t be having more than 4,500-5,000 seconds of advertising per match. We are also planning to use some spots to advertise the forthcoming serials and shows on SET and our other channels,? says Gupta.

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