From Zoozoos to Byju’s, Swiggy, Cred – how IPL ads tell us who watches cricket in India
New Delhi: That was in 2008. But on Indian television screens was playing an advertisement reminiscent of Bollywood tears of the 1980s.
Twins Ranjan and Mano, who live with their mother, are mocked throughout their young lives for not having a father. Unable to bear the humiliation, their mother is about to commit suicide one day, when she is stopped by her children, who tell them that their father has arrived.
The television screen in their house announces: “Aa gaya manoranjan ka baap– a clever take on the Hindi word for entertainment. And that’s how the Indian Premier League came to our screens, promising the action of the sport with an added twist of entertainment.
Movie stars and business tycoons became team owners, foreign players mingled and shared their expertise with young Indians, cheerleaders were ubiquitous in every stadium and India had its first look at after-parties tied to a sporting event. It’s become a heady cocktail of money, glamour, sport and showbiz that continues to thrill cricket fans 14 years later.
Which of course made it a perfect marketing opportunity for brands.
The most memorable advertisements published in recent seasons of IPL have been promotions of the tournament and its broadcasters – “Manoranjan ka Baap” in 2008, Sony Max’s “Home of IPL” advertisement from 2009, “Kanna keep calm from 2014’s “Fantastic’ promo, which gave the IPL a carnival image…the list goes on.
But there were others, IPL-centric ads for Amazon, Pepsi, Jio, Facebook, FMCG brands and consumer durables, that captured both minds and hearts.
For example, Vodafone’s zoozoos – cute egg-shaped characters that have become iconic – made their first appearance on Indian screens during the 2009 IPL, played in South Africa due to the scheduling conflict with the general elections that year.
Over the years, however, these FMCG and consumer durables brands are slowly being squeezed out of the IPL advertising space by new-age e-commerce brands in the fin-tech, consumer-friendly segments. ed-tech, payments and delivery services, such as Cred, BYJU and Swiggy.
“There was a time when soft drinks, Lays (chips) and telecommunications dominated the IPL advertising space. Today, new companies, especially those offering financial services, have taken over,” said Yudhajit Mukherjee, Creative Director of The Glitch, an advertising agency in Gurugram, on the changing IPL advertising landscape.
Mukherjee recalled that during internal research conducted for a project earlier this month, he found that 90% of all service-related advertisements during the IPL were in the area of insurance and finance.
The reason, according to Mukherjee, is that the digital market space in India is booming and that is where the potential for growth lies. E-commerce brands therefore do a lot of advertising.
“This change tells us that India is currently a big and growing digital market and a lot of money is being invested in these brands (digital first). In the next few years, India could become the biggest space digital marketplace in the world,” he said.
With another IPL season well underway – the finale set for May 29 – ThePrint is looking into the finer details of the IPL advertising space.
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Target young and attentive audiences across demographics
Since the IPL enjoys a large audience, advertisements shown during the IPL season also target consumers across demographics such as age, gender, location, and income groups.
However, although the advertisements are aimed at all demography are broadcast, the maximum number targets younger audiences, Millennials and Gen Z viewers, according to Shreya Sarkar, associate creative director at Magic Circle, an advertising agency in Gurugram.
“After last year’s Cred commercial featuring Rahul Dravid went viral, all brands want their scripts written for younger audiences; they want scripts with social media reshare value,” she said.
According to Sarkar, brands, even with a target audience of 55+, often like to write scripts for a younger group, just so their content can be reshared. “The mentality is that even older audiences want to keep up with the trends of the day, so most ads are aimed at people between the ages of 25 and 35,” she said.
There’s something for almost everyone here.
So while Fogg – marketed as a pocket deodorant – launched a advertisement this year which shows two women discussing and flirting with a man, addressing a young audience of 18-24 years old, ads for Tata Punch the eyes of a relatively older target group of “go-getters”, the fantasy game app Gamezy – approved by Lucknow Super Giants skipper KL Rahul – aimed at a Tier 2 audience and a new Swiggy Instamart a d revolves around a young couple living in a metropolitan city.
E-commerce brands have would have was one of the biggest spenders on advertising so far this year and held 30% of advertising volumes in the first five games of this 15th IPL season. Of these, 17% of ads came from online game businesses.
“This country is a booming digital economy. So it’s not really surprising that e-commerce has taken over smartphones, telecommunications and FMCG because that’s where the future lies,” Mukherjee said. “Competition is tough, so brands need to establish differentiators there.”
While the number of female viewers has increased (43% of IPL’s total viewers were female in 2020, according to a report by the television rating agency TAM), as well as advertisements targeted to them. In 2020, ads targeting women jumped by a record high 57 percent.
High revenue, brand recall
Just as the popularity of the IPL makes it a lucrative marketing opportunity for brands, advertisements are a major source of revenue for those connected to the tournament.
In 2021, Star — who bagged a five-year contract to be the broadcaster of IPL in 2019 — would have garnered Rs 3,200 crore in advertising revenue and is eyeing revenue of Rs 4,000 crore this year. A 10-second commercial during the IPL costs advertisers around Rs 16 lakh, while a 30-second advertisement during match breaks for the duration of the tournament costs Rs 37 crore.
The IPL is often referred to as the Indian Super Bowl, in terms of publicity value. The comparison is relevant because the Super Bowl is the high point of NFL football, and each edition of it sees the launch of the biggest advertising campaigns of the coming year.
Startups, particularly in the quick-ready, e-commerce and ed-tech spaces, have been among the most visible advertisers for the current IPL season. Fogg deodorant, Swiggy, BYJU’s, Vimal Pan masala, Cred, RuPay, Dream 11, Slice, Tata Neu, Lays and Gamezy are some of the brands noticed by ThePrint.
More than 100 brands will be would have share advertising slots on Star Sports and Disney+ Hotstar, the official TV and OTT broadcasters of the IPL. Fintech, hyperlocal delivery services, payment platforms and streaming giants are among the new age services interested in IPL slots.
“The kind of attention the IPL is getting is second to none,” Khurram Haque, Group Creative Manager at Ogilvy, Mumbai, said of why relatively smaller and newer companies are advertising during the IPL. despite high rates.
“IPL attracts (advertisers) the maximum eyeballs from the right kind of young, tech-savvy, open-to-trying-new-product audiences. Companies also believe that advertising during IPL gives them stature and credibility at like no other. And that’s important because a lot of these companies are first-time advertisers,” Haque added.
Frenzied publicity during the IPL often means brands spend a lot of their media budget during this time. “For some, it’s the only time of year when they advertise. Many companies spend the majority of their media budget for the year during these two months,” Haque said.
Newer brands, but IPL charm intact
Cred caused a stir with its advertising campaigns during the IPL in 2020. The following year, a particularly memorable year Featured an angry Rahul Dravid.
Cred’s campaign this year – “play it different” – a ‘hat’ take on iconic ads from the past, including one that features Karisma Kapoor in a revamp of an old detergent ad.
Slice Super Cards, which allow users to split their bills, were also widely advertised on digital and television media this year. It also succeeded in attracting the attention of potential customers.
“I was looking to buy a laptop, but as a 22-year-old professional entering the workspace, I was struggling to finance it. When I saw an ad for Slice cards during the IPL, I immediately applied for one and got one,” said a brand manager at an ed-tech company, speaking on condition of anonymity.
Smaller brands are also ahead of bigger ones, as the IPL is the only time they get attention, Mukherjee added.
“The market has evolved since 2008. Today, in the world of OTT, where consumers are fragmented across different platforms, IPL is arguably the only single platform that captures the attention of so many consumers at that time. So a lot of brands are competing for these expensive slots,” he said.
(Editing by Poulomi Banerjee)
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