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On a cricket high

Starting February 19, India is going to see heightened cricketing frenzy for 90 days as the ICC Cricket World Cup 2011 takes off, followed by the fourth season of the Indian Premier League, after a six-day gap.

business Updated: Jan 30, 2011 22:04 IST
Anita Sharan

Starting February 19, India is going to see heightened cricketing frenzy for 90 days as the ICC Cricket World Cup 2011 takes off, followed by the fourth season of the Indian Premier League, after a six-day gap.

The frenzy will be enhanced by brands associating with the two major cricketing events and are going all out to create massive cricket surround noise. Every sponsor on the Cricket World Cup is talking “360-degree” brand activity.

ICC itself has a high decibel advertising campaign, taglined "The Cup That Counts" on TV; a Cricket World Cup song, "De Ghuma Ke"; and a CSR initiative with UNAIDS for schools across India. The Cricket World Cup (CWC) 2011 ‘tightrope’ ad is already on TV. sponsor

Sponsor Pepsi, besides the TV advertising taglined “Change the Game” — with Dhoni’s ‘helicopter shot’ and Harbajan Singh’s ‘doosra’ ads on air and another three to come up — has a high decibel contest, “Pepsi Change the Game 11”, that will take 11 winners to live CWC matches. MTV is covering the contest and will broadcast it like a reality show.

Every major CWC sponsor is holding contests that will culminate in winners being taken for live matches.

Abhijit Avasthi, national creative director, Ogilvy & Mather, the agency that has created ICC’s ad campaign, observed: “Brand activity has probably not reached this kind of scale before.”

On those brands associating with both CWC 2011 and IPL4, he said, “They are both different media opportunities. CWC, played every four years, is about more serious cricket; IPL is like a snack — a lot more entertaining.”

Pepsi is going to be present on both cricketing events, though “as its official sponsors, our campaign riding on CWC is our largest this year. The game of cricket has changed dramatically in recent years, become more innovative, unorthodox. Our campaign is aimed at expressing this change and inspiring India’s youth to make change happen,” said Sandeep Singh Arora, EVP marketing, cola, PepsiCo India.

Another brand associating with both cricket events is LG, with LG Mobile being CWC’s mobile sponsor.

“IPL for LG is a potent media vehicle. Our association with IPL is as sponsors on television broadcast. The ICC sponsorship gives us the platform to engage directly with audiences at the highest level of the game. Therefore, the strategy is to get media share of voice with one, and big consumer engagement with the other,” said LK Gupta, CMO, LG India.

He added: “Our focus on activation during CWC 2011 is not linked only to product sales, but more to creating a bridge between the brand and potential consumers. The emphasis is on engagement, driven through advertising, extensive ground activation and use of the digital medium as a key building block.”

Giriraj Bagri, VP marketing, India and South Asia, Castrol, a major ICC sponsor, said, “We are spending 25-30% of our annual ad budget on CWC 2011. We already have Castrol Index with real-time indices on castrolcricket.com, a strategic property.”

He says that between 2010 and 2015, 50-60 million new car and motorbike owners will get added on in India. “92% of Indian males are involved with cricket in some form or other, and it is a favoured pastime for 48% of the Indian population,” said Bagri. Castrol has launched a contest, “Castrol World Cup Ka Hero”. Sachin Tendulkar is its endorser.

Broadcasting and production partner for CWC 2011, ESPN Star Sports, is going all out to make the event huge on TV. Aloke Malik, MD, ESPN Software India, said, “From our perspective, major highlights include 3G mobile streaming of live matches, a new Decision Review System, and production of CWC 2011 in HD format.”

The online partner for CWC 2011, Yahoo!, is “mapping cricket experiences around our products,” said Nitin Mathur, senior director - marketing, Yahoo India.

Published reports say that brand spends on both cricket events could exceed Rs 3,000 crore. While media agencies’ estimates for ESPN Star Sports and SET MAX (IPL’s broadcaster), are more conservative, market sources estimate that ESPN will rake in around Rs 750 crore, and SET MAX Rs 800-850 crore.

Media agency Mind-share’s Jai Lala, principal partner – exchange, said, “Ad budgets have doubled since 2007.

Involved’ media (the internet) offer brands consumer interaction opportunities. But activation-based efforts can happen only before the tournaments. Once the tournaments begin, live viewing, dominated by TV, will prevail.”

He expects a 15-20% TV viewership drop during IPL4 due to the fatigue factor, “but IPL4 will remain the number one viewed event in 2011 in India.”