In fact, such is the lesson learnt from the last edition of the World Cup that Korean consumer durable major LG Electronics has chosen not to be present on ESPN Star Sports (ESS), the official broadcaster of the 2011 edition of the World Cup despite being an ICC ground partner. “The commercial deal did not work out for us, therefore, we have opted out of being on air but our consumer engagement plans and product launches will be big around the event and we expect a spike of 50% in sales over the last quarter,” says L K Gupta, marketing head, LG India. Gupta, however, expects an assured viewership on IPL , on the other hand and, therefore, will be seen advertising on SET Max, the official IPL broadcaster, during the tournament. “There are large outlays involved in such big cricketing properties and what IPL offers is a risk-free option unlike the World Cup,” says Rohit Gupta, president, MSM. The IPL-4 will for the first time have 10 teams and as many as 74 matches.
The change in strategy by Although marketers these days prefer over the years favours a the snappier Twenty20 format of the IPL, there remains a desire but has not completely taken away the sheen to be associated with the World Cup. Big spenders like cola major, PepsiCo has plans to create a buzz around the tournament despite the 2007 debacle. Having launched its campaign “Change the game” PepsiCo is looking to capture and celebrate the changes in cricket over the years with a 360 degree marketing activity. “We feel the World Cup is a tremendous opportunity for us to leverage in terms of our image as also our sales. The IPL, too, is a great platform but that does not take away anything from the efficiency of the World Cup,” says Sandeep Singh Arora, executive VP- marketing, cola, PepsiCo India.
The country’s largest media agency, Group M, expects both the World Cup and the IPL to equally share the Rs 1,500 crore ad booty but the average viewership ratings are expected to be better for the IPL. While the World Cup is expected to clock an average of 3.5 rating, the IPL will register an average of 5, according to Group M. “Brands like PepsiCo and Hero Honda, which have traditionally been cricket-centric in their communication and positioning, will prefer being on the World Cup as it has involved viewership unlike an IPL which is like a hindi general entertainment channel,” says R Gowthaman, head, Mindshare-South Asia. While ESS has signed on sponsors like PepsiCo, Hero Honda, Sony India, Nokia, SET Max has got on board Hyundai, Vodafone, Cadbury India besides seven other sponsors.
This involvement and less clutter is what an advertiser like Philips is looking to cash in on. “We have been present in cricket for the last three years and got good returns. The World Cup is an ideal platform for us to reach our target audience. It is like a national event filled with passion and we expect to get undivided attention from viewers unlike the IPL which is excessively commercialised,” says Vivek Sharma, CMO, Philips India.
But a big dampener for the ICC property, say media experts, is the number of matches that does not involve India, which constitute about 80% of the tournament and of course, the fate of the Indian team. The broadcaster of the World Cup, ESS says the ICC has changed the format from the 2007 edition so as to secure at least a month-long presence of the India team. India plays its last group match only on March 20, a month from the start of the tournament. “Yes, there has been some devaluation of the 50-over game but the World Cup has a special impact and that is the response we have got from advertisers,” says an official spokesman of ESS.
The marketing game is not just limited to advertisements. So everything that touches a consumer’s life directly like flat screen TVs, apparel and FMCG products would be hard sold on ground as well. It’s only natural, therefore, that to capture this national fervour, marketers beyond just the ones associated with the event on air are making plans. Retail chain Big Bazaar, which is the official merchandiser for the World Cup, has launched a range of personal care products like toothpastes and soaps through its Sach brand-inspired by Sachin Tendulkar-to coincide with the tournament. Even multiplex chains are preparing to hop on to the cricket bandwagon. “We are trying to extend the buzz around cricket on to the cinema goers by introducing cricket fever combo wherein consumer can win world cup merchandise,” says Archana Jhangiani, head brand & marketing, Big Cinema.
It’s just a matter of time before the consumer market explodes on the country’s biggest religion backed by the marketers attempt to maximise their quest for the consumer’s purse.