New Delhi: With India’s two most popular sporting events the cricket World Cup and the Indian Premier League (IPL) coming barely a week apart, advertisers in the country are caught in a dilemma over where to invest their money. While some big brands such as PepsiCo and Videocon may put their money on both the events, most marketers will have to choose one over the other because they cannot afford both.
“Outlays on both properties are huge and any brand wanting to be noticed will have to spend a minimum threshold of money. This will naturally stretch annual budgets. Most of us will have to choose between one of the two properties,” said Mayank Shah, deputy marketing manager at the country’s largest biscuits maker Parle Products.
Shah said Parle hasn’t yet taken a call on whether to invest on the World Cup which is high stakes because it involves national pride and India is defending champion, or IPL which will see the biggest names in international cricket competing for the trophy. The maker of Hide & Seek and Monaco biscuits has been a top sponsor of the IPL in the past. The two big sporting properties are expected to see combined ad spends of Rs2,200-2,500 crore in the four months from February to May, according to leading media buying firms. While the IPL, which kicks off in April, is expected to rake in close to Rs1,000 crore, the World Cup that starts next month in Australia may fetch the ICC close to Rs1,200-1,500 crore, estimate media buyers. The companies say deciding where to invest is a tough call for brands.
“The spends are entirely going to be a function of returns on investments,” said Basabdatta Chowdhuri, CEO at Platinum Media, part of the Madison Media Group, which represents telecom services provider Bharti Airtel, chocolate maker Mondelez and cigarettes and consumer goods firm ITC. “While IPL is an assured bet and is like a fixed deposit, investing on the World Cup is like punting — if India does make it to the final league, brands will naturally want to associate with the tournament even though rates will go up dramatically,” Chowdhuri said.
The concern about World Cup is that if India gets knocked out early, like it happened in 2007, interest levels and ratings will fall drastically. But then, India is more or less assured to be a qualifier in the quarter finals. Also, four of the six India matches in the league stage are on the weekends, which have been structured by the ICC to attract maximum TRPs.
“World Cup for impact, IPL for consistency – that’s the split,” said Navin Khemka, managing partner (north and east region) at Group M-owned media buying agency Maxus, which represents personal care firms L’Oreal and Dabur. While IPL, coming on the offset of summer, is a big bet for products such as soft drinks, ACs and refrigerators, media buyers say the usual IPL buzz is missing this year due to the World Cup.
“By January usually a lot of brands start to talk about IPL. This year though it has been relatively quiet so far,” said Indranil Das Blah, COO of entertainment management firm Kwan. “This could be a function of people still evaluating which of the two properties to go with. The uncertainty around IPL hasn’t helped,” he added.
IPL has been mired in controversy, with spot-fixing allegations and a probe by authorities is underway. And the successful launch of new leagues in other sports may have given alternative avenues for brands to reach Indian sports lovers. Yet, cricket remains a must for most large brands as its popularity is unmatched. One reason why many brands are not talking about IPL yet could be that many advertisers believe booking at the last minute can get them a better deal as it happened last season.
PepsiCo — title sponsor of the IPL and global sponsor of the World Cup — plans to activate its Lay’s potato chips during the World Cup and its soft drink brands during IPL. Its rival Coca-Cola will have to limit itself to largely leveraging the online space.