The Chinese mobile manufacturer Vivo has parted ways with the Indian Premier League as the title sponsor and is replaced by the Indian behemoth Tata Group. The new sponsor will pay BCCI a whopping amount of Rs 670 as the sponsorship fee.
Vivo’s exit from the sponsorship title has to be closely read with the disputes between India and China and the anti-China sentiments that are growing in India. The exit of Vivo has made way for an Indian-grown brand to claim the sponsorship title.
“Now, what has now made Vivo rethink this partnership? The pulling out itself could be owing to several factors – the recent tax raids on fellow Chinese handset makers like Xiaomi and OPPO, the global chip shortage affecting this sector too among others like cars and computers”, observes, Karthik Srinivasan, Media & Communication Consultant.
“Even if they don’t have the title sponsorship now, I would expect Vivo to use advertising spots to register the brand/product’s presence as they have done so in the past. It’s not necessary that a brand needs the title sponsorship to make a significant mark – for instance, CRED won the attention sweepstakes in the 2020 IPL with its celebrity audition series despite Dream11 being the title sponsor,” he added.
According to Karan Taurani, SVP – Research Analyst (Media & Consumer Discretionary), Elara Capital: Brands backing out of the sponsor title is nothing new as we have earlier seen Chinese brands pulling out of IPL in 2020, but this has no negative effect on the IPL but it has a negative impact on the brand.
He further added, “To have a very strong brand recall or to get the maximum benefit from a property like IPL one needs to be associated for at least 3-5 years or longer than that. The longer the association is, the stronger is the brand recall. I feel that it is negative for the brand and thankfully we now have a large corporate house like the Tata’s and they may stick around for a very long time unless a big brand outbids them. It is always better to have a large corporate House as the prime sponsor.”
“Cricket is almost a religion in India. So, what works for Vivo in the product market might not work for it in a game like a cricket. Here, the spirit of nationalism flies high even in a tournament like the IPL. The cross-border relations are at a pretty low ebb these days and with several States being poll-bound, the issue is likely to rake up even more. Probably Vivo decided that this is not the right time to invest a huge sum of money in an activity like cricket. Sometimes it makes sense to lie low for a while. I don’t think there will be any significant effect on their market sales as long as they ensure their advertising campaign remains robust,” said Ramesh Narayan, industry veteran.
Will this affect the brand image of Vivo?
“Many reports suggest that it was the anti-China sentiment that led Vivo to end its deal prematurely, making way for the entry of Tata. That being the case, the replacement by a reputed Indian heritage brand like Tata would imply and amplify Vivo as a strong Chinese brand in contrast. Consumers who never gave much attention to Vivo’s origin would now see China written all over it. To overcome an overt brand association as a Chinese brand, Vivo will have to focus and showcase its technology and product features stronger for a favorable brand appeal and undo the China factor, observes Pavan Padaki, Author Brand Vinci and Branding Coach.
“I don’t think it will affect the imagery of VIVO, they will come back with a big bang in months to come,” observes Shankar B, CEO, Fourth Dimension Media.
“IPL is one of the big impact properties and it’s not the ONLY ONE for brands to own the mind space of consumers. Having said that there are brands who have reached pinnacle even without / rather meager spending on IPL. I personally don’t consider IPL as the only barometer of brand awareness in India. A big bang advertising with a charismatic brand ambassador will sweep the market soon for VIVO,” Shankar added.
What’s in for TATA Group?
According to Narendran Damodaran, Brand Consultant and Author, the acquiring of IPL sponsorship title come when Tata Group is trying to reinvent themselves with Digital being the focus area.
Tata Group is all set to launch their Super App Tata Neu- a unified platform that connects several brands across the Tata universe. Designed to be a super-app, TataNeu offers everything from daily grocery, electronics, finance solutions, flights, holidays, and more.
According to reports, the official launch of Tata Neu is scheduled for March 2022.
“IPL has a strong digital presence with the younger audience, by claiming the sponsorship Tata Group wants to grab the social media space to reach out to the youth of India. They are also trying to transform the brand image by re-identifying themselves among the youth in the country,” concluded Narendran.