Cricket, especially that involving the Indian cricket team, has sort of held a monopoly in the sports marketing industry over the last two decades or so. However, thanks to a combination of factors, primarily overpricing of cricket by the game’s administrators and broadcasters alike, has led to the advertisers deviating from the game that once used to be referred to as the Gentleman’s Game.
This will be reflected in a great deal when the New Zealand team jersey will have a Royal Stag logo as they take the field against India in a two-Test and two Twenty20 Internationals series.
While the Sahara India Group, has been shelling out Rs. 3.34 crore per match for the Indian team’s title sponsorship (Rs 13.36 for the New Zealand series), industry experts believe Pernod Ricard, the owners of Royal Stag, are paying “peanuts” to New Zealand Cricket compared to what Sahara is shelling out to the BCCI.
“The association will drive the brand value and is a good fit for Royal Stag,” said Vikram Basu, Vice-President (marketing), Pernod Ricard, declining to reveal the deal amount.
Following the path
And Pernod Ricard are in no way setting a trend by targetting the opposition team in India for a cricket series. They are just following some of the other smart brands who have taken that path.
Amul, for instance, sponsored the Netherlands cricket team in the 2011 ICC World Cup and the Switzerland-headquartered Sauber F1 team at the inaugural Indian Grand Prix last year.
“Basically the idea is to break the clutter and catch the eyeballs. The target group is going to be the Indian consumer and the association is going to be about leveraging the brand equity. This route turns out to be cheaper,” said RS Sodhi, MD of Gujarat Cooperative Milk Marketing Federation that owns the Amul brand.
And Sodhi admitted that deviating from the Indian cricket team is not out of choice. “Cricket is unaffordable for companies with limited budgets. The interest and awareness for sports other than cricket has gone up. Our focus is to target the youth and F1 and Olympics are viable platforms,” said Sodhi.
“Sponsoring the Netherlands team worked out to be extremely cheap for us and we derived good mileage out of it,” he added, refusing to give out deal numbers.
And besides exploring the other cricket avenues — may it be a Sri Lankan Premier League which has an Indian automobile giant as a title sponsor — the marketers are also betting on Formula One (F1) racing, hockey, tennis, golf and even kabbadi to see if they can build their brands over something outside of the wicket.
Punjabi channel PTC, for instance, broadcast the second edition of the Kabaddi World Cup last November. The prize money was a little over Rs. 2 crore and the viewership extended to Canada, the US and UK. At 7.6 million viewers, this was the tournament’s second edition and saw a surge of 65% in viewership from 2010.