The Indian Premier League (IPL) is not only one of the biggest sporting events but is also considered one of the best advertising platforms.
Little wonder then brands always bet big on the league. While some brands take the advertising route during IPL matches on TV and on the digital medium, others opt for different types of sponsorships.
But with the high cost of sponsorship and advertisements, many wonder what brands gain from such associations.
How much does it cost to advertise?
Advertising on TV during IPL will cost a brand around Rs 12-13 lakh for a 10-second slot. On digital or Disney+Hotstar, the official digital streaming partner of IPL, cost per mille (CPM) for a 30-second mid-roll ad was around Rs 360 for IPL 2019.
CPM refers to the cost an advertiser pays for 1,000 ad impressions. Ad impressions are counted every time an ad is displayed.
How expensive are sponsorship deals?
While advertising during IPL could amount to lakhs of rupees, sponsorships costs crores of rupees.
Take the example of the most expensive sponsorship --- the title sponsor, which this year is Dream11. Dream11 is a fantasy sports platform that paid Rs 222 crore to get its name right next to IPL.
During the last IPL, the brand name next to IPL was Vivo, which paid Rs 440 crore -- around 50 percent higher than what Dream11 is paying for IPL Season 13.
What visibility a title sponsor gets?
There is no denying that the title sponsorship deal is expensive but it also gives the brand maximum exposure. Every time IPL is mentioned, the brand name is mentioned. It is never just IPL; it is either Vivo IPL or Dream11 IPL.
“Title sponsorship means that the name of sponsor is prefixed to ‘IPL’ wherever it is used ... in the logo, on the trophy, in all PR mentions, broadcast references, player jerseys, in-stadia,” said Sandeep Goyal, chief mentor, Indian Institute of Human Brands (IIHB).
This way, the brand gets high visibility and possibly high recall value as well.
Take Vivo’s example. According to a survey conducted by YouGov, a data-collecting site, Vivo had the highest recall value in the first five weeks of IPL last year. The survey was conducted among 1,000 respondents in India, between March 26 and April 26 last year.
Another study, IPL Brand Effectiveness, by Kantar and media agency network Group M, points out that Vivo was among the top three most-noticed brands during IPL 2018.
Plus, Vivo also made sure that it had maximum visibility. Last year, the company introduced multiple touch points for audiences like ‘Vivo VIP Box’.
The company also launched a new phone model, a strategy which Vivo has been following since the beginning of its association with IPL. In 2019, Vivo had launched Vivo V15 Pro during IPL, and in 2016, between April and May, Vivo had launched two new models -- Vivo V3 and V3 Max.
A report, IPL Brands Insights Book 2019, by Velocity MR, market research and insights provider, noted that IPL is a good platform for product launches.
Despite all the exposure a title sponsor gets, there is no guarantee that the brand will get the highest visibility.
In fact, the Kantar-Group M study pointed out that despite a high recall value, Vivo lost out to Paytm and Jio during IPL 2018 as the two brands were present on multiple platforms.
Jio had signed sponsorship deals with all the eight franchises in 2018.
Goyal pointed out that “the title sponsorship is a deal on naming of the tournament between BCCI and the sponsor. So, except for default/incidental visibility on the broadcast, the title sponsor has no real entitlements. For broadcast or digital presence, the sponsor has to make a separate deal for on-air presence.”
Even when it comes to the title sponsor’s mention on player jerseys, the name can be seen on the sleeves.
According to the Velocity MR study, the most fruitful position for brands on the jersey is the front-center position, which has a 53 percent recall value.
Yet, Vivo’s title sponsorship gamble paid off, say experts, who attribute the company’s increased market share in the smartphone segment in India to Vivo’s association with IPL.
Vivo posted its best performance in India in Q1 2019 and shipped more than 4.5 million units, according to Singapore-headquartered market research firm Canalys.
Vivo's sales for the fiscal ending March 2019 went up by 54 percent, according to company's filings.
Is the visibility high for official partners?
Now, let’s take a look at official partners who are also part of the central sponsorship pool.
This year, there are three official partners, including Tata Motors, credit card payment company Cred and education technology platform Unacademy. Together, they have paid Rs 120 crore for the sponsorship deal.
Goyal explained the visibility official partners get. “Official partners get the branding on the ground (virtual logo that looks imprinted on the grass). There is also in-stadia visibility.”
“There is also locational monopoly. For example, if Pepsi is the drinks partner, only its drinks are sold at venues. Also, there are partner boxes and allocated seats at all venues. And the PR at the presentation ceremony with logo and representative,” he added.
There are other brands in the central sponsorship pool. Ceat, the tyre manufacturing company, is the Strategic Timeout Partner. So every time, there is a timeout during a match, the brand finds its mention by the commentators and also on the TV screen and on the digital medium.
Then there is Paytm, which is the Umpire Partner. So, the brand name is mentioned on the umpire’s jersey.
Why advertising is important despite getting sponsorship deals?
Despite the visibility the brand gets throughout the games, thanks to umpire branding, Paytm advertises on TV.
Last year, Paytm managed to maintain the increase in mentions on social media throughout IPL through its campaigns that were launched in April last year and the brand saw a slight drop only towards the end of the game, according to a Talwalker report titled, ‘IPL Sponsorship—It is really worth it?’
“It depends on how brands leverage such deals. Yes Bank (which had signed a five-year contract with IPL in 2013 as official partner) had used the sponsorship of ‘sixes’ called Yes Bank Maximums to focus on its six percent rate of interest for savings accounts and it was a big hit. Vodafone used the signing of the ball and a televised face-off between a couple of spectators effectively. So, it depends. Just signing the sponsorship in itself is not enough,” said Goyal.
In fact, the report by Velocity MR notes that for a better brand recall, heavy advertising scores over sponsorship.
Do sponsors on TV get more airtime?
When it comes to sponsors on TV, which, this year, include as many as 13 for IPL 2020, Goyal said “TV co-sponsorships give enhanced bonus branding at the end of every session and logos in the broadcaster’s (Star India) own ads. The prices range between Rs 50 crore to Rs 100 crore for various levels of tie-ups.”
Ask any marketer what is the best way to advertise during IPL--- advertising or sponsorship, you will never get a straightforward answer because it all depends on the type of brand and their communication during the league.
Coca-Cola, which had reportedly spent Rs 100 crore for co-presenting sponsorship deal for IPL 2018, did not find a mention in the list of top 15 most recalled brands during IPL Season 11, according to the Kantar-Group M report.