The Board of Control for Cricket in India’s decision to conduct the remaining IPL 2021 matches in a three-week period in September in the UAE has made advertisers take stock of their annual marketing plans. The remaining 31 IPL matches will now be held in September and October, coinciding with Navratri festivities this year.
BCCI had to put the 14th edition of the annual cricketing extravaganza on hold this year in view of the virulent second wave of the pandemic. A few international players left the league and several players tested positive.
Brands that sign up to advertise on IPL typically set aside a large chunk of their annual marketing budget for the cricket tournament. The two-month-long series gives brands an opportunity to carry out sustained high-decibel campaigns. The suspension coming in mid-way through their campaigns has had its disadvantages.
“Realigning our campaign strategy in the short-term has resulted in some media inefficiencies,” says Abhishek Madhavan, SVP, growth and marketing, MPL.
The mobile gaming app is a principal sponsor of IPL team Kolkata Knight Riders and was running an ad campaign on Star Sports for the app. It has initiated a new ad campaign to promote the app as a whole and not just the fantasy gaming section of the app. The company is expecting high viewership for the remaining matches and plans to resume its IPL campaign in September with the same fervour as earlier.
The league, even though split into two parts this year, is still expected to draw advertiser interest. “IPL remains a strong media property for brands. The touchpoints are expected to change because the matches will not be played in India resulting in the terms of deals changing to some extent,” says Anand Bhadkamkar, CEO, Dentsu India.
Official broadcaster Star India was aiming to earn about `3,500 crore in advertising revenue this year with ad spots being sold for about `13 lakh per 10 seconds. When the league resumes in the second half of the year, seasonal categories such as consumer durables including fans, ACs and coolers, or beverage brands selling carbonated drinks and fruit juices may stay away, say analysts.
The festive season may attract a different set of brands. “Since the matches will be a precursor to the festive season, apparel brands, two-wheelers, four-wheeler brands, etc, may find the remaining matches a valuable avenue on which to advertise,” says Sandeep Goyal, founder, Mogae Media.
Brands may not be able to exit deals inked with the broadcaster because the event has not been cancelled entirely; thus, neither party will be able to invoke the force majeure clause. Therefore, brands are finding other ways to utilise their investment. Siddharth Devnani, co-founder and director, SoCheers, says, “Advertisers are thinking of diverting their IPL media buys to sub-brands that may become relevant in September-October.”
upGrad, a brand that chose to stay out of IPL 2021 after investing in IPL 2020, is considering advertising on IPL-Phase 2. “We expect the mood of the nation to be quite different during the September-October period. We are weighing our options with advertising on the second half of IPL,” says Arjun Mohan, CEO, India, upGrad.
Participation of international players from countries like England and West Indies and the final schedule of ICC Men’s T20 World Cup 2021 are two critical factors that will influence a brand’s decision on investing in IPL. “The quality of IPL matches might suffer if overseas players do not take part. Therefore, many clients may want to put their ad money into the World Cup instead of a depleted IPL,” says Goyal.