PhonePe readies to cash in on the IPL

A high decibel campaign running across digital and TV is planned during the upcoming league.

NEW DELHI: Some call it the biggest advertising festival of the Asian subcontinent; others equate it with the Super Bowl of India. Amid the raining sixes, cartwheeling stumps and crowds cheering their respective teams, the Indian Premier League (IPL)  is the perfect platform that offers humungous reach, multiple brand integration opportunities and a billion plus attentive eyeballs. Which marketer would want to shy away from this offer if he has the budgets.

Initially, audiences were only watching the game in Hindi and English feeds but now the broadcaster is offering multiple feeds in different languages along with live streaming on Disney + Hotstar. The spectrum is wider than ever. 

Despite Covid2019 pushing the the game to stadiums with no audiences in the UAE, the virus has not been able to deter the enthusiasm of audiences as well as marketers. This year multiple brands across categories have already signed on with team, broadcast rights owner, Star Sports and  the BCCI to cash in on the  pulsating excitement of sticky audiences, who will be witnessing a major live event after a hiatus of five to six months. The expectations in terms of viewership are huge as IPL will be a much-needed breather during these difficult times.

Read more coverage on PhonePe

PhonePe, a popular fintech brand, has returned as the co-presenting broadcasting sponsor of IPL 2020, repeating the association it had with the league in 2019. With reason: director of brand marketing PhonePe Richa says it has sky high ambitions. Currently, 230 million consumers conduct transitions with the app; the goal is to take that to 500 million by 2022.

Says she: “The tournament helps to create visibility, reach, and high brand recall for PhonePe. It has also helped us create awareness around digital payments for different user segments in the country. Our IPL sponsorship will help us reach both urban and rural audiences alike.”

In addition to IPL, the digital wallet brand has plans to digitise 25 million offline merchants across all 5,500 talukas of the country in the next 12 months with the mission to make PhonePe a household name across the country.

The digital-first brand shared a piece of insight from its IPL 2019 data and indicated that the reach and viewership of the tournament have increased significantly with each season. During IPL 2019, the app platform launched the #DadduGublucampaign featuring Aamir Khan in an avatar not seen before; that of a doting but confident grandfather. Each TVC concentrated on a single feature of the app. For instance, one of the TVCs talked about how it serves all the payment needs of an individual. Another spot talked about the high level of protection and security that PhonePe transactions are armed with. With its smart marketing tactics, the app also took a dig at its rival brand. 

PhonePe competes with Paytm, Google Pay, and several other players in the market. Media reports suggest that it has set aside a hefty ad war chest of Rs 800 crore to make its presence felt through a push both above the line and below the line. This will include a big advertising splash for television and digital outlets.

The over-arching theme that PhonePe has adopted for its advertising campaign for this season’s IPL is 'KarteJaBadteJa.’It includes four TVCs shot in different states and languages earlier this year, featuring Alia Bhatt and Aamir Khan. The ads educate users about the various services availableoin the app be it booking a hotel, recharging bills or transferring money to a friend. 

Sharma asserts that in addition to the PhonePe TV commercials, the brand will also be on other media - social and digital, which she believes is essential to help build brand recall and reach.

“This year our campaign focuses on tapping into the large base of Indians who are all digital-savvy but for various reasons have not taken to digital payments yet. Being the category leader, it's our endeavour to handhold each and every Indian and get them to experience safe, fast and convenient digital payments through PhonePe,” she explains. “With that in mind, we launched our campaign almost a month back (18 August) with a series of messages around safety, trust, convenience to help our audiences understand the ease and security PhonePe provides for digital payments. We will continue to break new messages and going into IPL you'll see more new ads on the same creative theme. Alongside IPL on TV, we will also be utilising various social and digital platforms and the varied ad formats they offer to create a more holistic audience outreach.”

Sharma elaborates that customer acquisition and brand recall among the target audience are a few of the metrics that the PhonePe team looks at while measuring the effectiveness any brand association. “We aim to grow the pie of digital transactors in the country, especially from tier 2, 3 markets and beyond. We aim to drive greater awareness and preference for PhonePe's features and services. The key theme will be to catalyse progress for everyone through our brand platform of ‘KarteJa. BadhteJa,” she says. .

Last month, the brand rolled out a film titled ‘Unstoppable India’ sensitively conceptualized by Leo Burnett. The film portrays the despondency amongst all of us as we battle with the ennui and frustration of the covid2019 prompted change inour lives. But it also highlights the indefatigable, never-say-die spirit of Indians who are finding ways to get back to near normal in the new normal. And of course helping them in the journey back is the contactless payment app PhonePe which like Indians does not how to stop (Ruknatohhumeinaatanahin), which is the tagline of the brand in the film.

According to an ASSOCHAM-PwC India study, the Indian digital payments market is currently valued at $64.8 billion. It is projected to grow at a CAGR of 20.2 per cent to reach $135.2 billion in 2023.

Post demonetisaton, in 2016, and the government’s drive towards cash-less India, digital transactions have grown exponentially in the country. The pandemic has further accelerated contactless transactions, across income levels and geographies and amongst all age groups, but more so amongst millennials, for whom it has become a habit.

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“We hit a record high in June 2020 in terms of our daily user activity as well as the total payment volume processed through PhonePe. Our transaction volume for July 2020 was at 620 million transactions that surpassed the February 2020 levels (pre-lockdown),” explains Sharma. “This was driven by continued user adoption of PhonePe across core use cases such as P2P payments recharges, and bill payments as well as the opening up of offline and online merchants across the country.”

The good thing is that Sharma is already seeing the signs of revival across industries. She acknowledges, “We are back to our pre-lockdown numbers. June and July have been our biggest month so far in terms of transactions.”

However, she acknowledges that the last quarter of the calendar year is very crucial for every brand due to the commencement of the festive season. “Luckily this year IPL is being held amid the festive season, creating a feel good factor and brands are hoping to get on the path of recovery very soon. IPL is the biggest sporting event in the country and has a lot of mass appeal. We are sure it will help lead to a revival in overall consumer sentiment who will go out and shop,” she concludes. 

That would be good news for the economy. And more so for PhonePe if a large part of that consumer shopping is paid for by the digital payment app. 

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