IndianOil bats for Ten Sports in cricket tri series

MUMBAI: If there is one platform that a brand can count on for reach across the country it is cricket. IndianOil is one of the companies that is using the bat and ball game to build up its brands.



Now the company has announced a tie up with sports broadcaster Ten Sports to be the title sponsor for the triangular series between India, West Indies and Sri Lanka. The IndianOil Cup Trination Cricket Championship takes place from 30 July to 9 August 2005.



At a media briefing this afternoon, the logo for the tournament was unveiled. Rediffusion DY&R, which is the creative agency of IndianOil, did the work by holding a competition where 100 entries were submitted.

Speaking on the occasion IndianOil director marketing Dr. N G Kannan said, "The logo is meant to represent the smooth free flowing action of a bat and a ball. We will be running a contest through SMS, online and also on Ten Sports. This will give winners a chance to be present at the toss and has been done with the permission of the ICC. The contest's name is Lucky In Lanka and we are working on the details of the same. We are also talking with mobile operators regarding tying up."



Kannan went on to add that the company is looking to grow nine brands by using cricket. Six of them are in the FMCG category under the brand name Xtra. They include XTra Mile, XTra Premium, Xtra Care. Then there are two reward loyalty programmes - Xtra Rewards and Xtra Power. The contest will be linked to the purchase of fuel. The company has already shot five TVCs with Xtra Premium, two for servo and one for Xtra Mile. It has used its brand ambassadors Anil Kumble, Irfan Pathan and Yuvraj Singh.

Some of the ads have been airing for a while. In one ad Kumble only manages to take one wicket. Pathan then tells him that he must strive harder. Kannan added that the decision to sponsor goes from tournament to tournament. It never buys two or three tournaments together. That is because a brands reach is measured after each event and then a decision is taken as to the next tournament to be associated with.

IndianOil is also associated with the Asia Cup. Last year it took a sponsorship position for India’s tour of Pakistan, which also aired on Ten Sports. He pointed out that in the Olympic games nine members of the hockey team were IndianOil employees. The company also organises a range of local sports events in the country ranging from Badminton to Table Tennis. The company has in the years used the system of recruiting young, talented sportspersons and has then supported them in their careers. In this way it has thrown up stars like badminton champs Aparna Popat and P Gopichand.

Ten Sports India head Sharmishta Rijhwani added that Hutch, Hero Honda, Pepsi and Maruti are the key sponsors. Samsung and Onida are the other companies that are associated with the event, which interestingly enough will not implement the new rules for one day cricket.

A representative from Sri Lanka Cricket (SLC) says that the board would rather try out the rules in the domestic competition first and see the results. Also SLC worked closely with Ten Sports as far as scheduling the matches were concerned to ensure that rain interruptions could be avoided as far as possible. Rizhwani says that with this tournament the channel is hoping for a 30 per cent growth in reach.

WWE - A strong marketing tool

Meanwhile one of the stories on Ten Sports is its ability to constantly stay ahead of the competition (unless India cricket is on another channel) by keeping viewers coming back to it without much marketing. On ground events, ads being splashed in major publications, hoardings are all absent.

Talking to on this Ten Sports vice president programming Peter Hutton said, "It may seem unusual but the WWE is an excellent promotional tool. Our research shows that it does not appeal only to kids but cuts across socio economic barriers. When we advertise our shows like Moto GP on it we get more ratings than ESPN Star Sports though the feed is essentially the same. That is because people who watch WWE stick with us."

"A lot of credit for this must be go to our CEO Chris McDonald. Before we launched in 2002 he saw the potential that WWE had. WWE has out performed our expectations. Hopefully we will have an event this year and we are working with Total Sports Asia on this front. Also as far as our other sports properties are concerned we are confident that our deal for international hockey with the FIH will bear fruit. That is because the sport strikes an emotional chord with the viewers. It is much better to get involved with a sport that Indians identify with than a sport that is alien."

Dwelling further on the programming strategy Hutton says, "Our aim from day one has always been to offer an alternative to what is already on air. That is why we do not have a half hour news show. ESS does a good job here and there is no point in us copying them. So we came out with two minute news capsules called Sports Update, which hit viewers in a completely different manner. That is also the reason why we got involved with Indian horse racing. It is true that it is a niche sport but just covering Indian horse racing was something that had not been done before."

On the sports production front, Hutton noted that Taj Television (Ten Sports’ parent) has a production facility in Dubai and produces shows on different subjects like cooking. It also produces shows for a global sports marketing firm IEC In Sport. So it is in the unique position of making content that sometimes airs on a rival channel like DD or ESS.

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