Ad monotony takes the zing out of IPL

MUMBAI: From mid-February to the end of May, India saw cricket action aplenty this year. Between the ICC Cricket World Cup and the recently concluded Indian Premier League (IPL), a total of 109 matches were played, which gave brands ample ground to target maximum consumers in a cricket crazy nation. While many brands seized the opportunity to grab maximum eyeballs by taking up premium inventory, what lacked to an extent was creativity and uniqueness in the story telling.

While some brands ensured that they had an elaborate storyboard so that viewers had something new to watch every time, some others took monotony to another level by hammering the same ad throughout the tourney.

Leo Burnett chief creative officer Rajdeepak Das tells about how went about advertising through the IPL. “In the case of, we wanted to tell people one message and that was ‘Aur Dikhao’, about the range that we had. Vodafone for example, had a lot of things to talk about, be it its speed, 3G or other services and hence communicated multiple messages. While was very clear that it wanted the nation to speak one message and that is ‘Aur Dikhao’.”

Das adds, “Sometimes repetition helps remember things, like how we used to mug up things to remember them during childhood. Similarly, for a consumer to remember as a brand, the repetition was a must. In a seven series film, communicated its message so that they do not reach consumer fatigue level. You have to see what the nation speaks and that’s what really wanted to do.”

On the other hand, direct to home (DTH) operator Tata Sky with its disruptive daily recharge offer of Rs 8 set out with a storyboard of 13 episodes, which revolved around a love story set in a small Kashmir town. The story unveiled how the product worked and cleverly amplified the benefits of a daily recharge, through its lead protagonists. Building on the curiosity to know ‘what happens next?,’ each TVC smoothly highlighted how the daily recharge enabled convenience and value for money.

Vodafone India, which has been showcasing different themes and offerings every IPL, seems to have hit the nail on the head. From coming up with as many as 27 new television commercials (TVCs) featuring the inimitable Zoo Zoos, this telecom brand has more often than not upped its creative ante.

Speaking to this website about the brand campaign, Vodafone India SVP brand communications and insights Ronita Mitra says, “IPL is the biggest sporting platform in the country designed to appeal to a wide audience with high clutter and frequency during a very compact period. It allows multiplicity of communications and offers an opportunity to reach out to a wider target audience and strengthen Vodafone’s brand connect.”

“The first IPL season with the Zoo Zoos saw us launching a series of 27 television spots talking about Vodafone’s VAS services. This approach continues in the eighth edition of IPL. Our ‘Speed is Good’ campaign is a series of short but charming and memorable stories where Vodafone customers use their fast 3G network to bring a smile to someone’s face. With our focus on digital, this year we partnered with Being Indian, a channel on YouTube, to produce engaging video in lines with our campaign objectives. The video has been well received on YouTube with close to 40,000 hits in three days,” she asserts.

From its learnings over the last seven years, Vodafone believes that if truly innovative and cutting edge things are done during the IPL, then the impact multiplier effect and bang for the buck is unmatchable.

Sharing insights about how the online wallet – PayTM - has been working on getting their share of pie through advertising via an event like IPL and the ICC World Cup, PayTM SVP Shankar Nath says, “Repetition is valuable for ad effectiveness. More exposure gives more visibility and increases liking and preference for that experience. It also ensures that that there is more recall for the ad. An ad that you do not recall cannot be effective and the more you recall it; the more you have processed its message. At the same time, one has to be careful that there is no excessive repetition, leading to viewer fatigue.”

Sharing his views on whether brands should look at a new approach, Nath says that ideally a brand crafts the right experience to engage with its audiences and evoke the desired emotional and behavioural response. “The approach towards the content must show a higher level of audience understanding to earn their engagement, which will, in turn, deliver deeper value as the brand experience is integrated into their lives,” he informs.

Nath is also of the opinion that after a level of consumer fatigue, consumers need to see fresh content, which will not only benefit the brand but also help them build a strong communication connect.

In today’s digital milieu, brands also have at their disposal multiple platforms like YouTube et al where they can hammer in varied messaging. When queried about whether brands were looking at more platforms for better consumer engagement with different ads, Nath says, “The market is evolving. New channels are coming up. There is fragmentation. Digital has become a very important medium, as certain audiences are spending more time on mobile and web. We see a lot of brands that are creating communication specifically for digital. Certain brands release their video campaign first on digital and subsequently move in with shorter edits on television.”

However Nath derides the fact that a brand, which does not launch multiple TVCs to offer creative variation, does so in order to cut costs. “Cost is not something that really bothers the brand. There is a possibility that the brand never thought of communicating that way,” he states as a matter of fact.

On the other hand, RK Swamy BBDO India creative director Rudra Sen says, “Honestly, I think the IPL is a very well integrated brand communication platform at various levels. With a supple dose of cricket spiced with Bollywood, it combines two very powerful genres.”

“The IPL provides brands with multiple communication platforms to engage, involve and reward viewers, fans and field spectators alike… be it on TV, digital, ambient, in-stadia, in-studio, on-ground contests, promos or activation like the Vodafone Fans Club or the Pepsi Viewing Gallery. The TVCs that stood out for me were that of Vodafone. Then comes Amazon but I think it’s more to do with the ‘Aur Dhikhao’ jingle, which hit the sweet spot. Magic Bricks too used an interesting storyline narrative that was engaging. The rest interrupted the action.”

Ogilvy & Mather executive creative director Sumanto Chattopadhyay says, “Most brands eventually end up having one communication strategy for a period and an event like the IPL because of various reasons like huge production cost and cost of airing the spots. So I think for most brands it becomes a matter of getting the time, effort and money into one communication and they tend to bombard it. For an avid viewer, who is watching all the matches, it is repetitive and also irritating to an extent.”

“A big brand like Vodafone, which has a large ad budget focuses on the IPL and prepares campaigns for an event like this. However, not every brand has these kinds of resources to do multiple ads. So too much repetition of anything is annoying, not only ads,” he adds.

According to Chattopadhyay, brands have certain limitations like budget constraints or even the time to make multiple creatives. “They can bring in some amount of variation within the same communication just to sustain the interest of the viewers,” he says.

While brands like Tata Sky, and Vodafone have managed to make different storyboards to engage the audiences and leverage the IPL platform, other brands, which bombarded viewers with the same storyboard, were at the risk of causing viewer fatigue.

For brands that do not come up with a storyboard, cost could be a concern. However, for pre-planned big ticket events like the IPL, creative agencies as well as brands need to churn out innovative ads that tickle the imagination and curiosity of the viewer and also keeps them engaged throughout the season.

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