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IPL is perfect platform for brands to recover from COVID-19 setback: ITW Consulting MD Bhairav Shanth

"The IPL still remains a very sought-after marketing platform, but you need to be able to tailor the solution well.  If you offer great value, there will always be takers, no matter what the external environment is like," he said.

September 15, 2020 / 11:05 PM IST

This year's Indian Premier League (IPL) is set to provide the brands the perfect platform to get over the morose environment triggered by the coronavirus pandemic, according to Bhairav Shanth, MD and co-founder, ITW Consulting.

In the last 10 years, Shanth's ITW Consulting has helped brands in getting maximum mileage through in-stadia advertising and other engagements.

He puts up a brave front when asked about the impact of the coronavirus pandemic on sports sponsorship and says it hasn't been as bad as expected.

"Initially everyone thought that there would be a steep drop in value. But as we have seen from the sponsorship deals, it has not declined as heavily as expected. Naturally, given the circumstances, there has been around 10-20 percent drop but we haven't seen the declines of 50 percent or more that many had predicted," he told Moneycontrol.

So, will IPL manage to restore confidence among brands?

"I definitely think so. Brands seem confident of the platform, not just because of its history but also the fact that it is the biggest primetime entertainment property there. The league starts at a time when brands are looking to rebound from the tough six months and I think it is the perfect platform for them to get the best value out of their marketing spends," he said.

Shanth also noted that the draw of IPL helped them in roping in brands.

"ITW has signed up CRED and Unacademy as official partners for the IPL and for individual franchises, we have more than 16 partners, including MPL for KKR, TCL for Sunrisers and Marriott Bonvoy for Mumbai Indians. Our approach has been to find the correct fit for brands and create a customised offering that fits the objectives they want to achieve. So, IPL is 100 percent sold out," he said.

On the demand and ROI from in-stadia advertising, Shanth said that it is no longer considered local.

"No matter where a team is playing, brands seek presence on billboards in the game because those would be seen by audiences back in their home markets. It's the reason why you see Indian brands during an Ireland vs England match in London," he said.

He, however, admitted that in-stadia advertising will suffer from COVID-19 hangover.

"A little bit of an overhang is to be expected given that the money brands spend on sponsorship and in-stadia advertising are part of their overall marketing budgets and those have been affected by COVID-19. But once again the sheer buzz and draw of the property that is the IPL should overcome it. We have seen that in terms of the deals and enquiries we have handled leading up to the IPL," he said.

Follow our coverage of the coronavirus crisis here

Soumalya Santikari
Soumalya Santikari Having started off as a sports scribe, I made the sobering transition to business journalism in 2014. Always up for belling the cat.
first published: Sep 15, 2020 08:52 pm