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Brands with most integrated marketing plans to win as cricket season heats up

IPL to commence from 23 March 2019

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MUMBAI: Franchises, brands, broadcaster and most importantly the fans were left delighted on Tuesday as news trickled in that the Indian Premier League 2019 will be played entirely in India. The Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) also announced that the 12th edition of the cash-rich league will commence from 23 March 2019.

This is the first time since the inception of the IPL that all its matches will be played in India during a general election year. In a sense, this is a testament to the humongous popularity of the cash-rich league. It must be noted that the entire 2009 edition was moved to South Africa, while in 2014, some matches were played in the UAE.

Season 11 of the IPL was a runaway success on every front. Broadcaster Star India leveraged 17 of its channels, including Star Plus and Star Gold, to make the finals a smash hit. It was aired in eight languages including Hindi, English, Tamil, Telugu, Bengali, Kannada, Marathi and Malayalam.

Last year, the IPL was broadcast in six different languages - Hindi, English, Tamil, Telugu, Kannada, and Bengali. While Star was unable to get full-fledged Telugu, Kannada and Bengali channels up and running at that time, it ensured that viewers from these regions didn’t miss out on the experience. It aired the matches on Suvarna Plus (Kannada), Maa Movies (Telugu) and Jalsha Movies (Bengali).

The thrilling final powered the network’s growth by 34 per cent with 52.9 million average impressions. The final between Chennai Super Kings and SunRisers Hyderabad was produced with 11 live feeds across the TV network and Hotstar.

Brands have long recognised the power and popularity of cricket in India.  However, with video proliferation and regional language market expansion, more avenues seem to have opened up for the marketers to position their products.

With India kicking off the year with a historic 2-1 Test series win against Australia, 2019 could be the year the nation is hooked on to cricket like never before.

PwC India partner- media, entertainment and sports Raman Kalra says, “India is always a cricket hungry nation and will always continue to be cricket loving nation. A lot of diversified brands will be seen participating. The important thing is how they weave this story into a much more deeply integrated marketing plan. It is not just about running one campaign or two campaigns, can they really integrate the storyline throughout the ATL and BTL and do something beyond what is being done.”

Barring series (ongoing Australia versus India and West Indies versus India in the month of July and August) Star is bound to be the home of cricket for India’s cricket-loving public.

The broadcaster’s offering in 2019 commences with New Zealand versus India series followed by Australia’s visit to India, followed by the IPL and the all-important 50-over ICC Cricket World Cup among others.

Sports advertising expenditure is largely driven by cricket with other sports contributing a minor share. According to India Sports Sponsorship report 2018 by ESP properties and SportzPower, media spending in sports as a whole grew 15.8 per cent from Rs 3511 crore ($ 516 million) to Rs 4065 crore ($ 616 million), driven even more strongly in 2017 by Television On Air, which grew an incredible 42.7 per cent from Rs 2376 crore ($ 348 million) to Rs 3379 crore ($ 512 million). The other reason for sports adex increase is the annual increase in ad rates, especially on IPL.

“The crux would be which brand has the most integrated marketing plan and go beyond the TV, digital campaign to engage with the audience and convert them into fans,” Kalra adds.

The marquee cricket season is also an opportunity for new brands to tap into a wider audience and amplify their reach and communication.

Some of new brands that associated with the IPL last season were AMFI, Asian Paints, Berger Paints, Blue Star, Ceat Tyres, Crompton, Dollar, Ford, Haier, Luminous, Pidilite, Sleep Well, Vanessa, Vimal Pan Masala and Voltas joined the existing ones like Vivo, Colgate, Amul, Dream11, Elcia, Kent, Parle Agro, Polycab to name a few.

When it comes to the big ICC events, the likes of Oppo, Nissan, MRF Tyres, Emirates, Uber, Bira, Dream11, and Royal Stag do not miss a chance to grab the audiences’ attention.

Some industry experts believe that advertisers could be looking at an option that includes featuring both during the IPL and the World Cup as part of a combo deal.

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