Any marketer will tell you that the most brand-friendly game is cricket. Think about it — ads between wickets, between overs, during drinks. This year, they’ve taken it a notch further with IPL 3: catches are branded by Karbon; and there’s a Citi moment of success, whatever that means.
The IPL gold rush is on and the cost of ad spots are up yet again. This time by 33 per cent. A 10-second spot will cost Rs 6 lakh as against Rs 4.5 lakh for bulk spot buyers. Prices for the semi-final and final slots will be about Rs 10 lakh for a 10-second slot. I don’t think that anywhere else in the world, media costs can go up by a third, year on year.
The whole issue boils down to is the first lesson we learn in economics: the basics of demand and supply. The SET MAX inventory is finite — 2,600 seconds per match. With supply fixed, there’s a bidding war on the demand side. Leading from the front are a roster of unknown mobile handset manufacturers eager to make a map on what is India’s biggest media spectacle.
IPL 3 is also important for another reason. This time, it recognised the potential of the digital platform. Not satisfied with the 20-odd million households that IPL 3 reaches out to via TV, Lalit Modi — arguably India’s biggest salesman/deal maker — signed deals that makes the entire spectacle available online and on-mobile. Forty million Indians can now watch matches on YouTube and many millions can access the latest match information on their mobile phones.
Brands are increasingly realising that it’s a smart strategy to extend visibility that they get on mass media to connecting with consumers online. So, apart from the usual sponsorship of scorecards, live commentary and video streaming sections, a lot of them are actually experimenting with new formats online. Brands can customise the experience for consumers using microsites, advergames, adver-virals and facebook apps, providing them flexibility.
Idea, for example, is running an underground campaign through viral films on the internet. On the mass media meanwhile, it has its brand ambassador Abhishek Bachchan playing Oongli cricket. The online viral films have nothing to do with the mass media campaign. And economics also works out beautifully – each film is about three minutes long. Even if a viral film gets about 2,00,000 views, that’s 6,00,000 minutes of pure branding that Idea gets.
Then there’s gaming. Coke, which sponsors the Delhi Daredevils, has made a couple of advergames, one of which features the Daredevils and has an immediacy through a “dare”.
Brands are also using the Facebook platform to interact with consumers. Leading from the front are Kingfisher and Tata DoCoMo – they upload pictures of parties, they run contests, getting fans to interact with them.
The internet is going to be the cornerstone of all brands associated with the IPL. Teams are going to invest a lot on websites to connect with fans throughout the year and build loyalty. E-commerce will boom as fans start to display loyalty by purchasing team merchandise and memorabilia. These websites will be tightly connected with platforms such as Facebook.
Watch out for teams to start getting their stars to tweet from the Dugout.
The writer is Chief Operating Officer, Contests2win.com