[Interview] Prasun Kumar – CMO, MagicBricks sheds light on the marketing opportunity for brands this IPL

Prasun Kumar

As we step closer to another season of celebrating sports and entertainment in India with IPL 11, we at Social Samosa try to canvas marketer’s opinion about the hits, misses, and learnings for brands to plan better.

As a part of the initiative, Social Samosa got in conversation with Prasun Kumar – CMO, MagicBricks, who sheds light on the evolving sports marketing landscape in the country, in reference to the upcoming season of IPL.

Kumar shares the best ways to harness the power of IPL with effective marketing techniques and brand initiatives.

Excerpts below:

 #1- IPL 2018 brings onto its fold a new broadcaster and along with it brings onto play multi-platform, multi-language feeds. IPL will stream live on mobile, reach Indian homes through 10 plus channels and over 6 languages – all this brings into play a paradigm shift in the cricket ecosystem.  How can the marketers leverage the IPL in its new avatar differently over the previous season and gain maximum value? 

IPL this year is going to be very different and with HotStar and the progress of the Star Network in different languages coming into, the reach of IPL is expected to grow manifold.

Now, IPL already had different kinds of audiences sampling the format of cricket. This year, it is going to be more broad-based. The per unit consumption is also likely to be higher because of the availability of live feed on a platform like Hotstar and direct seamless integration of that. While, the previous avatar had their own digital broadcast, but because the main broadcaster and the digital broadcaster rights were separate, the kind of integration opportunity for brands were probably lacking. All these opportunity will open up and the approach of brands towards IPL will change.

Owing to the cost of bidding surrounding it and the multi distribution pattern, the cost of IPL has gone up, which includes the cost of entry for a brand in IPL which has gone up substantially this time. Our estimate is that, the asking rate might be more than last year. So brands will also have to think through very hard on how best they can be present with this platform. Also, at the same time, how do you manage the investment that is required.

A lot of brands will therefore, request for construction of packages which will be suitable for them, rather than buying plain vanilla offers from the broadcasters. So two big paradigm shifts, one is the distribution side of it and the second is, the cost side of it.

#2- IPL in its franchisee format is the epitome of inspiration to other sports leagues such as PKL, ISL and PBL. The new age sports have done something unprecedented – they have got kids, women and rural viewers closer to the sports channels. Nissin*used trump cards based on kabaddi players to drive sales. AMFI* has featured several players from the Kabaddi teams to increase awareness about mutual funds and to reach out to investors. What is your viewpoint on how the brands can embrace the growing sports and leverage on the same?

I think IPL has been a fundamental guiding block for all the other sports format. Increasingly, brands are getting aware that while, we factually remain a cricket obsessed nation because it delivers at a mass level, but the other new sports league are also emerging as viable alternatives for a limited reach or a niche kind of audience strategy and a lot of brands are looking at it.

#3- With IPL 18, the association of brands is not just restricted to the television set. There is a growing focus on creating non-live content around IPL as fans are immersed in facets beyond just the cricket match. IPL now sees exclusive programming on auction, Pre/ Post shows, building team rivalries pre-match, behind the scenes and what goes through the player’s mind when they are preparing for important matches etc. What new dimension is this adding up in the marketer’s landscape & how can marketers leverage this for their brand objectives?

There is a lot more work that needs to go into these areas like- exclusive programming on auction, Pre/ Post shows, building team rivalries pre match and others, before they can be latched upon by brands. While, there is huge interest around IPL, but there is no Club format which happens in the case of soccer. In India, IPL is the brand and though they have tried to market the different teams, but it is very limited to the interest around players at this point of time.

#4- Which campaigns as per you are some of the most impactful ones on IPL? Since your brand has invested in IPL over the years, please share the objectives of investing in IPL and how successful has this association been? What metrics did you use to measure the success of your association?

 For me, the best IPL campaign of all times will be Vodafone Zoozoo, it was launched specifically for the platform, it was meant for the platform and they have been persistent about it. Considering the high cost in the entry to IPL and the rate at which it increases every year, brands who commit themselves for a longer period tend to deliver a better ROI.

In terms of the title sponsorship, players like Vivo and others, are not doing anything other than driving awareness and visibility. On the other hand, cola brands are churning out interesting communications and they have been tapping fans inside and outside stadiums successfully.

When you ride on a most premium sporting event of the country, you need to have a very strong objective associated with it. Firstly, because it comes at a cost, which is not nominal in your marketing budget and secondly, the opportunity and the sheer visibility IPL gives and unless brands activate themselves, at a scale contextually, it may not be very wise to ride on this platform.

The success metrics will differ from brands to brands and it varies according to the objective of the brand as well. However, brands need to look at  double digit increase in brand saliency, performance score and have a tremendous impact on sales. For new brands, awareness and consideration score is important. The objective behind the association is to improve the brand scale drastically in comparison to the kind of investment that goes in.

The interview is a part of the series, #BrandsLuvIPL, featuring Top Brand Custodians and Marketers to ascertain the reach, impact and the untapped potential of sports marketing in India with reference to IPL.