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

Ashish Bhasin

The Indian sports marketing ecosystem has evolved drastically over the last decade. The arrival of digital, ignition of moment marketing, and need for creating experiences has compelled marketers to look beyond the vanilla techniques.

Social Samosa got in conversation with Ashish Bhasin, Chairman & CEO Dentsu Aegis Network South Asia to understand how brands can add a creative spin to the sports marketing opportunities offered by the upcoming season of IPL.

On IPL Marketing, sports marketing trends and more. Read the excerpts below

#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 brands’marketing mix in the coming year?

Around a decade ago we did a study that showed almost 77 per cent of the entire money on sports was going to cricket. Several years later, when  there are many more sports league , so we did a study recently – and inspite of sports like kabbadi, badminton, wrestling and others coming in, cricket now gets 90 per cent of the spends. Simply because the value spent on cricket has gone up over the years tremendously.

Additionally, the cricketing calendar is extremely well known. IPL for instance, is known that it will happen over 45 days and these will be the opportunities. Clients keep aside a certain amount for these events in advance, of course while there are exceptions, by and large cricket spends are planned in advance.

 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 season sand gain maximum value? 

Cricket is one thing which has a universal appeal irrespective of the age, caste or creed. So, it’s not that people who prefer regional languages used to not watch cricket, they already did, so an increase in reach might not drastic. What is making a big difference is digital. In earlier days, if there was a match going on, during lunchtime everyone would be crowded around the conference room. Today no one does that, everybody is monitoring the match on their mobile. Digital has completely changed the consumption pattern. While people love watching cricket on the big screen, but if for practical reasons they can’t, this is where digital has a chance, especially with cheap data packages now available thanks to Jio.

I think the one difference is that now there will be a simulcast with no lag because the rights for digital and television are with the same player. This will make a big difference.

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

In terms of creativity some brands manage to get it right, they craft their communication especially for cricket. But most clients end up using their same commercial by merely buying air time. That is obsolete. The more interactive and relatable you can make it, the more you can engage with the audience.

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? 

A consumer is not seen following an advertisement on television or digital or other platforms- as far as the consumer is concerned it depends on the impetus that he or she is getting. So, if you are able to take it beyond just placing your ad, you can get it right. Take IPL for example, supposed there is a Kingfisher ad and then relevant communication envelopes the consumer on other platforms such as OOH or digital as well, they get a complete brand experience. The more interactive you make it be it with a contest or an event, it then amplifies your television viewing because it’s been a continuous experience. It’s all about creating the most relevant consumer experience across media and not dissecting it as television and digital. It has to be an all round experience for the consumer.

Vodafone’s ZooZoo campaign stands out in most minds as one of the most unique & engaging campaign around IPL

#5- Which other campaigns as per you are some of the most impactful ones on IPL?

Kingfisher’s IPL campaign is a good example. Their Oh La La La Le O campaign was very well crafted and tends to stick with the consumer till date. The essence of the brand – King of good times, was communicated really well and the relation with cricket was established by getting these cricketers on board. It was a very relatable audio mnemonic; examples like these – good creative done for the specific environ your ad is coming in, stand out.

Also Read: “Sports marketing in India needs to evolve to the next level” Samar Singh Sheikhawat, UBL

#6- 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) 

No, I think Indian brands are doing a really good job. In fact super bowl is a bit of overrated, they just get a significant amount of viewership in one go.  We don’t face that issue for cricket. The creativity in India is great and there is nothing that we can’t do in that sense. We have the ability to do it. Like I said, Kingfisher is a good example. We just don’t put the money and effort behind customising our creative for sports.

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

Metrics are very clear – advertisements follow are eyeballs. Objective is that you need to find the most efficient way to reach your target audience and it is what all advertisers follow, that doesn’t change.

In terms of objective, the idea of associating with a sporting or cricket property (because 90 per cent money of goes to cricket) is that in one go it provides a massive universal appeal. Initially the problem with cricket used to be that it had a massive male viewership, but with IPL coming in about a decade ago it has changed. It has become family viewing; it is a combination of cricket and entertainment. The objective hence needs to be creating a mass appeal and there are very few properties that will help you do that better than cricket.

#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.

  1. It will continue to be cricket dominated for a long time
  2. The role of digital will become more important
  3. Brands that are more successful in leveraging these opportunities will be those who think creatively and align their brand value through a 360 degree opportunity and not just a 30 second spot.

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.