#Interview Arun Iyer, Lowe Lintas on breaking clutter with sports marketing

Arun Iyer

India has seen many creative sports marketing campaigns – right from the Vodafone ZooZoos to Kingfisher’s King of Good Times! What next though?

Social Samosa gets in conversation with Arun Iyer, Chairman and Chief Creative Officer, Lowe Lintas who shares his two cents on how can brands leverage the sports marketing opportunities offered by the upcoming IPL season. On creativity, breaking clutter, and more.


1. Sporting properties offer more & more interesting opportunities to brands with leagues like IPL, ISL, PKL all becoming popular, what role will sports play in your marketing mix in the coming year?

Sports and specially cricket has played an importantly role, simultaneously the reach of football and other sports has been increasing. The only thing is that to some extent the reality of following of the sports is more skewed towards cricket, but this is changing rapidly. Big sporting leagues will continue to play a very important role in the marketing mixes of brands, today and in the near future.

IPL 2018 brings into play multi-platform, multi-language feeds. IPL will stream live on mobile, reach Indian homes through 10 plus channels and over 6 languages  

2. How can the marketers leverage the IPL in its new avatar differently over the previous seasons and gain maximum value? 

Hotstar has been streaming IPL for the last couple of years, it’s just that earlier you had to subscribe for it, this year you can tune it without subscription. Hotstar has grown tremendously y-o-y for the last few years. The regional language feeds are new and is actually good it does allow local brands along with big national brands to advertise. Brands can also localize, personalize, and have a national communication. Asian Paints for example, they have a national ad and they also have regional ads with different tones.

3. How do you think brand custodians can become more creative in leveraging and making their brands stand out among the clutter?

One of the realities of IPL is that, while it is cluttered, it is expensive. So, how do you make sure your brand gets the maximum out of the bargain? That’s where creativity plays a big difference. If you can actually help brands get maximum recall in shorter durations, that’s the real play and that’s where the challenge lies. A lot of interesting stuff can come out of this. Similarly, how do you make sure you leverage the 45 day long tournament is what brands need to think about.

There is a growing focus on non-live content around IPL and other sports leagues, as fans are getting to see facets beyond just the live match. Auction, Pre Post shows, building team rivalries pre match, behind the scenes etc.

4. What is your view on how can the brands ride upon the unique opportunity that sports genre offers can?

While there are a lot of offline opportunities, the real stuff happens while the game is on. The rest of it helps building buzz around the tournament. Many a times brands don’t have the budget of advertising during the match and they refer to offline opportunities, but that being said it does help. However, brands can leverage it slightly better than what has been happening.

Also Read: Cricket will dominate sports marketing for a long time: Ashish Bhasin, DAN Group

5. Which campaigns stand out in the way they have leveraged Sports Do you think Indian Brands need more inspiration from global brands? (Referring to how Brands leverage- Super Bowl, EPL)

Vodafone has done a great job of it from quite a long time, even Idea had done some really good campaigns. While there have been many brands that have done something creative, we will see more innovations this year.

6. Do Indian brands need to take inspiration from their global counterparts in terms of what they do for tournaments like Superbowl and EPL?

Not really because I think the content is very different. Superbowl is as big as IPL and a lot of stuff happens, but the content which America consumes, the reality of the American consumer is completely different from our country. There could be some ways in which media has been consumed which we can take inspiration from but apart from that the realities of both the markets are very different.

7. What are the typical brand objectives to invest in sporting properties and what metrics are used to measure the success of such a campaign?

It depends from brand to brand, I don’t think there is one specific brand reason. A certain realty brand would want to leverage their season by being a part of a family viewing experience. There could be brands which are looking for a big launch and this could be the big platform for them – I think there is never one single brand objective.

The metrics of measurement depends on the objective – if you’re looking for buzz then you will look at how much buzz was created for the brand, if you wanted to create recall or direct impact on sales; it all depends what the entry point is and that will determine the metrics.

8. What are some of the key trends marketers need to tap on to win over new audiences in this ever-evolving sports marketing environment.

I don’t think there are a specific set of trends. There are a lot of sports that we push in front of people and different sports entertain completely different set of audience in different parts of the industry. Every marketer needs to figure out whether associating with that specific tournament caters whom they are trying to reach and whether that audience is going to be engaged enough to make a difference to the brand.

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.