Brands align their festive calendar as IPL 14 resumes

An analysis of the top advertisers for IPL 2019, 2020, and 2021.

Mumbai: The 14th edition of the Indian Premier League (IPL) 14 finally resumed on Sunday with Chennai Super Kings (CSK) beating Mumbai Indians (MI) in the first match. The cricket bonanza, which got suspended mid-way in May due to the second wave of Covid has returned to the United Arab Emirates (UAE) yet again, with Star Sports telecasting all the live-action.

Despite the brief hiatus, the channel has managed to board a strong lineup of broadcast and streaming sponsors for the second leg of the tournament. For broadcast partners, Star has roped Dream11, PhonePe, BYJUs, Ajio, and JioFiber as ‘co-presenting’ sponsors and Bingo, Kamla Pasand, Mutual Funds Sahi Hai, Asian Paints, CRED, Prime Video, Dairy Milk, Thums Up, Garnier Men, and Upstox as ‘associate’ sponsors.

Its streaming partners include Dream11 as ‘co-presenting sponsor'; Vimal Pan Masala and Upstox are ‘powered by’ sponsors; and Unacademy, PhonePe, Mutual Funds Sahi Hai, Livespace, Swiggy,, Volkswagen, and Fresh To Home have joined as ‘associate’ sponsors.

There is Deja-vu, as the celebrated cricket league is once again being held in the second half of the year coinciding with the festive season. Advertising spends traditionally see a surge twice in the calendar year coinciding with the IPL in H1 during March-May and with the festive season in H2 between September-November.

Many strategic factors determine brand associations with the IPL. Some brands want to piggyback on the enormous reach garnered by the T20 series. Others may associate with the tournament because it fits the brand ethos. There is a multitude of industry-related factors that marketers take into consideration. For example, food delivery brands associate with IPL because average order volumes generally spike when cricket matches are being played.

The timing of the IPL is another important factor to consider. For example, beverage brands which are traditionally one of the top advertisers on IPL, associate with the sports property because it coincides with the peak summer months. Similarly, paint brands also associate with IPL as many consumers plan to paint their homes during summer before the monsoon begins.  

According to the data provided by TAM Sports, a division of TAM Media Research, over 100 brands were advertised on the IPL 2019 and 2020 editions out of which 56 were common categories. The top advertiser categories during IPL 2019 were mobile handsets, auto, digital wallets, beverage, online gaming brands, paints, perfumes/deodorant, food/grocery delivery, pan masala, and OTT/social media brands.

The category contribution among the top ten advertisers did not change significantly during IPL 13 with seven brands in common, however, the digital brands increased their share of overall spends. The top advertisers included mobile handsets, online gaming, digital wallets, OTT/social media, ed-tech, telecom, e-commerce, auto, pan masala, and beverage brands.

It should be noted that the top ten advertisers of IPL 12 and 13 contributed 55 per cent and 61 per cent of ad volumes, respectively.

Ad volumes of categories such as perfume/deodorant and air conditioners saw an obvious decline at 97 per cent and 96 per cent, respectively when IPL 13 no longer coincided with the summer season. Similarly, beverage brands also saw degrowth of 55 per cent.

The mobile handset category, which was the top advertiser for both the 12 and 13 editions, saw an ad volume decline of 46 per cent for the 13th edition because Vivo, one of the top advertisers, was missing from the tournament. Auto advertiser’s ad volumes decreased by 54 per cent due to stress in the overall sector.

The ad volumes for e-commerce and telecom grew tremendously by 400 per cent and 300 per cent, respectively, capitalising on the transition to digital forced by the pandemic conditions. Categories such as ed-tech, OTT/social media, and online gaming increased their ad volumes by 75 per cent, 32 per cent and 22 per cent, respectively, to ride the digital wave.

"This phase of IPL 2021 is going to be equally big or supersede phase one in terms of ratings and revenue. The entry cost is relatively very less considering it's a high-impact property that is coinciding with the festival period once again, hence it will be bigger for advertisers than last year. We estimate that the overall festive spends would increase by 20-25 per cent over 2020," said Havas Media Group India, president, and national head, R. Venkatasubramanian.

According to a study by Havas Media and YouGov, during the first leg of IPL 14 (2021), e-commerce category was the top advertiser for the tournament followed by consumer durables and the auto sector. Food delivery, online gaming, and ed-tech brands were also highly visible during the tournament.

"Every category is going gung-ho to advertise on cricket and its offshoots. Last year, Star Sports attached a premium to inventory because IPL was creating some kind of excitement for the ecosystem. This year’s edition would definitely see an increase in revenue realisation by 10-20 per cent over last year. Advertisers won’t be deterred by the fact that the tournament has been scheduled for the second half of the year. In fact, brands will have a tougher time with recall as a lot more advertisers are fighting to be associated with IPL,”said SYSKA Group, chief marketing officer, Amit Sethiya.

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