India vs New Zealand: Where Virat Kohli and team travel, Indian sponsors follow
The Virat Kohli-led Indian team has traversed 7435 air-miles to reach New Zealand for a 42-day cricket tour, and Indian sponsors have followed. India will be playing 5 T20I’s, 3 ODIs and 2 Tests in New Zealand, and each of the three trophies will feature an Indian sponsor. Noida-based water-purifier brand Kent RO has struck a title rights sponsorship deal with New Zealand Cricket (NZC) and will lend their name to the T20 series scheduled to begin this Friday. The ODI and Test trophies will be sponsored by Indian whisky brand Royal Stag.
Another key sponsorship—the ‘Powered By’ slot for the entire six-week tour has been acquired by Indian software company Ebix, also based out of Noida.
This is the first time that all the major sponsors for an Indian cricket tour are from India; it has come as a much-needed boost for smaller cricket playing nations like New Zealand, who struggle to generate revenue for the game. In the financial year 2018-2019, New Zealand Cricket (NZC) reported a net loss of USD 825,000.
“With teams now looking forward to the T20 World Cup later this year, the five Match T20 Series with India is not only an ideal preparation for our squad but also a tremendous opportunity for fans to enjoy high quality T20 Cricket. We want to thank the series partners that recognize the global nature of the game and support cricket across boundaries,” a New Zealand cricket spokesperson said.
What’s in it for the sponsors? Industry experts say overseas tours give companies a chance to associate with the Indian team at a significant discount. Paytm, which acquired a five-year home title rights deal in 2019, pays the BCCI R3.8 crores per match. Short-term title rights valuations for India playing away comes at a significantly lower price say people involved in the deal, though they refused to divulge numbers.
Arshad Shawl, founder, Alliance Advertising who struck the deal for Kent said, “While awareness comes naturally with more eyeballs (TV, including digital), the experience, buzz and positive associations that rub-off from cricket definitely makes it a winning proposition. We have witnessed success for most of our brands leveraging cricket. Kent is a great testimony.”
Ebix, a leading international supplier of On-Demand software and E-commerce services will have a strong presence on ground, with mat sponsorship logo on-ground, and logos on boundary ropes, amongst other things. Ebix Chairman and CEO Robin Raina said, “Cricket in India has been the best marketing vehicle for brands. The series becomes more significant when a cricketing power house like Team India is scheduled to play against the World Cup finalists New Zealand.”
Sponsors don’t need to have business interests in the country—neither Kent RO nor Royal Stag have a footprint in New Zealand—because television viewership is what drives investment. And TV viewership is always high when Team India is in action.
In the recent past, India’s best known dairy brand, Amul, strategically took up jersey rights for the South African cricket team for the T20 series against India last year. They also sponsored Afghanistan during the ODI World Cup in England, and New Zealand during the 2017 Champions trophy to make most of the TV eyeballs. Kent RO too have leveraged the benefit of investing indirectly through cricket in India, when they sponsored the team jersey for the touring West Indies squad last year.