Brands betting big on cricket post Team India's World Cup win
Basudha Das and Anusha Subramanian April 19, 2011When Mahendra Singh Dhoni lifted Sri Lankan pacer Nuwan Kulasekara for that gigantic six a day after All Fools Day, it was not just the end of a victorious World Cup campaign for the Men in Blue. For advertisers - be they manufacturers of sports goods, television sets, T-shirts or even providers of Direct-to-Home, or DTH, services - the World Cup win was the ultimate marketing sixer.
Now, with the fourth edition of the Indian Premier League, or IPL 4, underway, brands are going overboard to put their money where cricket is.
Not surpising then that, SET Max, the broadcasters of the IPL, is expecting to make Rs 1,000 crore in ad revenue from the tournament compared to Rs 700 crore last year.
Sony, which signed on the Indian skipper as a brand ambassador and spent about Rs 100 crore on the World Cup campaign alone - all to promote its Bravia HD series of television sets - is set to ride the brand Dhoni wave even if it means some extra spend. Canon India has lined up a campaign featuring none other than Tendulkar.
According to media reports, consumer durables major LG, which kept away from the World Cup, intends spending Rs 30 crore on IPL advertising and Maruti Suzuki, which spent Rs 30 crore on the World Cup campaign, too, is betting big.
"Cricket is the most popular sport in India and is the best way to connect with the audience," says Tadato Kimura, General Manager, Marketing, Sony India. He adds the company saw the sales of its LCD television sets soar 40 per cent, or over 200,000 units, between January and mid-March. There was another 40 per cent jump in sales of flat panel sets in the last two weeks of the World Cup. "Consumer sentiment is buoyant," maintains Kimura.
For Nike, too, the World Cup came as a money spinner, which saw "very encouraging sales" of the Team India replica jerseys, jackets, T-shirts and other merchandise. "Obviously, as the game reached the knockout stages, the sales surged," says a Nike spokesperson. For IPL 4, Nike has launched a creative range of cricket inspired footwear and sportswear.
"The Cricket World Cup 2011 has delivered 69 per cent higher ratings than the 2007 edition," says Aloke Malik, Managing Director of ESPN Software India, which owns ESPN and STAR Sports. ESPN STAR Sports, or ESS, - along with Doordarshan - held sole rights to broadcast the tournament live in India. Though ESPN would not disclose numbers, sources close to it claim it would have raked in close to Rs 800 crore in advertising revenues through the tournament. This World Cup generated an average TV viewership rating of 4.2 (only ESS) and 4.9 (ESS plus DD), he adds. In 2007, SET Max had won the India rights for the broadcast of the World Cup, played in the West Indies. That tournament garnered an average TV rating of 2.5 (SET Max) and 2.7 (SET Max plus DD).
"Thanks to Team India's win, more people are likely to watch cricket in the coming months," says Rohit Gupta, head of network sales at MSM India, which owns SET Max. Gupta, however, does not see the possibility of a serious spike in revenues with IPL 4 broadcasts because of the World Cup win. "Most of our inventory was sold out even before the World Cup began. We are just holding onto a portion of the inventory of the last few matches," he says.
Shashi Sinha, CEO of media buying agency Lodestar UM India, cautions: "India did well in the World Cup. But it takes only one bad game to spoil the party. We will have to wait and watch how India performs in England and West Indies… else it could just be a passing phase." India tours West Indies in June and England in July this year.
But then, as pundits love to put it, cricket is a game of glorious uncertainties and it takes just a few overs to change the course of the game.