Pepsi pours in Rs 3.96 bn for IPL title sponsorship

MUMBAI: The Brand IPL has once again proved that it hasn‘t lost its sheen despite the pessimism as soft drink major Pepsi poured in a Rs 3.96 billion bid to bag the five-year title sponsorship rights of cricket‘s richest property.

Telecom major Airtel was the lone other bidder. Airtel‘s bid of Rs 3.16 billion fell short of Pepsi‘s which was almost double of what DLF was offering.

A possible cola war was also averted as Coca-Cola decided not to put in bids despite buying the tender document. The reason: the company did not consider the rights lucrative enough to bid for it following an internal evaluation.

However, industry sources told that Coke was deterred by the steep floor price which is Rs 600 million per year. Apart from Coca-Cola, Kolkata-based sports marketing agency Gameplan Sports had also bought the tender but did not put in bids.

The bids were opened today at BCCI‘s marketing committee meeting in Mumbai.

IPL Chairman Rajeev Shukla said, "PepsiCo are one of the largest sponsors in world sport and we look forward to working with them over the next seasons. I would also like to take this opportunity to thank DLF for its confidence in the IPL to become the league‘s first title sponsor in 2008."

The bidding process was initiated following real estate major DLF‘s refusal to renew the Rs 2 billion deal that was signed in 2008 when the property was launched by its former chairman Lalit Modi.

With IPL rights, Pepsi has reiterated its position as the biggest spender on cricket which also includes the ICC sponsorship deal. It is also beverage partner of IPL teams like Chennai Super Kings, Pune Warriors India and Rajasthan Royals.

The only property where Pepsi doesn‘t have a presence is the Indian cricket team‘s home matches whose title sponsorship rights are incidentally held by Airtel till 2013. The telco pays Rs 33.3 million per match for the series sponsorship rights.

GroupM ESP Managing Partner Hiren Pandit believes the deal was a no-brainer for Pepsi since IPL is the biggest cricket property and it happens during summer, a peak season as far as cola brands are concerned.

"Knowing Pepsi and the kind of campaigns that they have done around cricket, I think they will milk this association. I think Pepsi will be able to leverage the association which is the most important aspect of a title sponsorship deal," Pandit averred.

According to Pandit, the price paid by Pepsi is not on a higher side since it can get value for its money through activations and the visibility that IPL gets.

Gameplan Sports Director Jeet Bannerjee shares similar sentiments. "Pepsi has been synonymous with cricket. IPL is a great property and as the title sponsor Pepsi will activate its sponsorship deal. It‘s a great property for advertisers to promote their brand," Bannerjee said, echoing Pandit‘s sentiments.

PepsiCo India Chairman Manu Anand said, "I am delighted that we have succeeded in rebranding the tournament as Pepsi-IPL, thus cementing a five year partnership between two brands which enjoy an iconic status not only in India but globally. With our continuing sponsorship of the ICC World Cup, we are the now biggest supporters of the game of cricket. We have reaffirmed our passion and commitment to cricket and this investment reiterates the importance of India business in the PepsiCo global system."

PepsiCo said it has organically grown eight Rs 10 billion plus brands in a short span of 20 years in India including Pepsi, 7UP, Mirinda, Slice, Lay’s, Kurkure, Mountain Dew and Aquafina. The company which has sustained double digit growth across its foods and beverage businesses has been consistently investing in India in brand building, capacity expansion and developing market infrastructure.

Explaining the rationale behind the bid, PepsiCO India Vice President - Beverage Marketing Deepika Warrier said, "No scale association with cricket is possible in India without a sizeable IPL presence. IPL - the biggest cricket event in the subcontinent has now become the new face of Indian cricket which combines the best of cricket with entertainment, regional club passion & international glamour."

"Brand Pepsi is an iconic youth brand and one of the most recalled and trusted brands across categories in the country. Now with this association we hope to catapult brand Pepsi to an even higher orbit as the most universal, popular, trend setting youth brand. The title association of Pepsi IPL & other benefits will allow brand Pepsi and other PepsiCo brands to gain more than conventional sponsorship benefits and generate immense universality across the country," Warrior added.

Talking about the next IPL campaign, she further said: "Pepsi has given some of the most recalled brand campaigns such as Yehi Hai Right Choice Baby, Nothing Official About it, Ye Dil Mange More and Change the Game. We are working on innovative and exciting campaigns around IPL and we will Change the Game once again."

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