MSM ups the ante for promoting IPL

MUMBAI: With just a month and a half left for cricket?s biggest extravaganza to begin, Max, the official broadcaster of the Indian Premier League (IPL), has embarked on an extensive marketing campaign that is aimed at improving viewer stickiness and increasing the engagement level.

The theme of the marketing campaign is ?Sirf Dekhneka Nahi? which calls upon viewers to celebrate every boundary hit or fall of wicket like they would do in a stadium.

While executives at Multi Screen Media refused to talk about the extent of marketing spends, sources say the broadcaster has earmarked Rs 220-250 million for the pan-India marketing campaign.

The marketing spends have gone up by 20-25 per cent over last year, the source added.

Almost 60 per cent of the marketing budget will be devoted towards television and print, while the remaining 40 per cent will go towards mediums like radio, outdoor, digital and on-ground activations.

The broadcaster is also evaluating whether or not to advertise during the India-Australia Test series which will air on Star Cricket.

With dance being the key feature of the campaign, the broadcaster has roped in ace choreographer Farah Khan who would feature in a series of television commercials.

The campaign drawn from the insight that cricket is not just a game but a passion will see Farah asking viewers to support their favourite team by grooving to the signature IPL tune composed by the music director duo of Vishal and Shekhar.

MSM COO NP Singh said that the idea behind the campaign is to raise the engagement level around the IPL by engaging cricket fans through various touch-points like television, radio, print, digital and outdoor.

"It became a passive viewing habit, so we wanted to increase the level of participation among the viewers. Therefore the campaign theme ?Sirf Dekhneka Nahi?. The same theme will be used across all our marketing campaign whether it is print, outdoor or digital,? said Singh.

According to him, dance has a universal appeal and will help the broadcaster in breaking through the barriers of age and language.

?Dance has a universal appeal and it cuts across all age groups and demographics. The idea is to make IPL successful through this campaign by engaging viewers,? he added.

The marketing budget for the IPL has gone up vis-?-vis last year. However, Singh refused to talk about it.

?Like every year, we will pull out all stops to promote the IPL. We will use all our network channels to push the marketing campaign. This time our network is much bigger than last year,? Singh asserted.

Max?s creative agency JWT has created a series of three short films, three dance instruction videos and one big grand film featuring the choreographer.

The three short films will showcase women, working professionals and families celebrating the IPL together with Farah Khan teaching them the signature dance steps. These campaign films will lead to the grand film which will highlight how IPL binds cricket with dance and celebration.

Singh feels that the IPL ratings are still holding strong at an average of 3.5 TVR compared to an all-time high of 5.51 TVR that it achieved in 2010 when the tournament returned to India.

?My belief is that the IPL ratings have stabilised at a strong 3.5 TVR level, despite the fact that the number of matches have gone up. My feeling is that the ratings this year will be better than last year. The marketing campaign that we have launched will help us attract viewers to watch the IPL,? he averred.

IPL?s format coupled with the presence of a galaxy of cricket stars both Indian and foreign is what will deliver ratings for IPL, believes Singh.

MSM EVP and Business Head of Max Neeraj Vyas revealed that the broadcaster will go for large-scale activations on digital medium. The strategy is to go viral as the campaign lends itself to the digital medium.

?While television will be the main stay of the campaign, we will also have activations on mobile and internet as song and dance lends itself to this medium. For example we will ask users to upload videos as to how they will celebrate when a boundary is hit or a wicket falls,? he says.

MSM SVP and marketing & communications head of Max Gaurav Seth said the thought behind the campaign is to make viewers excited about the IPL which would lead to greater stickiness.

?The message is not to just sit at home and watch it passively. What we are saying is like you celebrate in the stadium when a boundary is hit, why not do that at home,? Seth elaborated.

Seth said that the brief given to the agency was to create a campaign that reflects India?s passion for the game. He also feels that unlike cricket IPL is more of a family phenomenon and therefore the campaigns are designed in a manner that it appeals to each member of the family.

?The campaign is designed in such a way that it showcases IPL as the ultimate sports and entertainment property in India. Tell me one property that delivers that so much value to advertisers and viewers,? Seth maintained.

For the record, MSM has roped in three sponsors for season 6 of IPL. Vodafone and Pepsi have come on board as co-presenting sponsors, while Tata DoCoMo is going to be an associate sponsor. MSM is looking at two co-presenting and eight associate sponsors.

The IPL this year will be simulcast on Max, which has been the home of IPL for the last year five years, and sports entertainment channel Six. The IPL will be available on a High Definition (HD) feed in English and a Standard Definition feed in Hindi on Six and a SD feed on Max.

Featuring nine teams and 76 games, the IPL will be held from 3 April to 26 May.

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