#SSIPLWatch: How Swiggy & Zomato rained sixes with their marketing strategy

Saloni Surti
Mar 12, 2020 12:44 IST
Zomato IPL Strategy

Social Samosa takes a look at the Swiggy & Zomato IPL strategy, in an attempt to understand what both the brands rely on in order to make the most of their investment.

The evolution of IPL as an important tournament for broadcasters, brands, and viewers alike has been a feat in itself. According to BARC data, TV Impressions for IPL 2018 witnessed a growth of 41% over 2016 season, and grew at 16% in the 2018 edition over previous season. The report further shares that over the last 3 years the total number of advertised brands has grown from 138 to 247 (a growth of 79%). While BARC data further show that in 2019 462 million viewers watched the 12th edition of the league on Star network channels between March 23 and May 12th. This strength reflects in the Swiggy & Zomato IPL Strategy.

IPL’s position of strength has been corroborated by the food-tech industry, with two of their biggest players – Swiggy & Zomato, going on head on to make the most out of the cricket fervor.

Social Samosa takes a look at the Zomato & Swiggy IPL strategy, in an attempt to understand what both the brands rely on in order to make the most of their investment.

Swiggy IPL Strategy

Swiggy India’s association with IPL goes as far back as 2017 and if media reports are to believed, the partnership has worked wonders for the food delivery app. Tapping on the obvious connection of food & cricket, Swiggy has initiated communication on various themes such as -– get food without missing a single ball, binge eat while you binge watch, and comfort food when your favourite team is facing their fate. Television ads played an integral role in the plan, with short commercials being aired during strategic breaks pushing consumers to order. This was further cemented, when Swiggy joined IPL as an official broadcast sponsor in 2019.

According to media reports, the app-based brand claims to have seen a 25 percent growth in orders during IPL 2019. We take a look at the sports marketing tactics in play that helped Swiggy create the much required buzz.


With just 3 years into the Indian market, in 2017 Swiggy began leveraging the IPL buzz. The idea was synonym-ize Swiggy with food during important occasions such as cricket matches which are blink and miss.

Full page print ads, consistent social media marketing, and attractive offers from popular restaurants played an integral role in this. The brand also got regionally famous restaurants, like The Thick Shake Factory in Hyderabad and Corner House in Bengaluru to create dishes available exclusively to Swiggy users.This was further supported by regionally targeted OOH campaigns for cities like Mumbai and Chennai whose teams had been performing well.

A media report suggests that Swiggy witnessed 23 percent hike in new user orders and 19 percent hike in overall orders during IPL 2017.


Come 2018, Swiggy went all out with their IPL campaign, creating No Order Too Small, producing spots as short as 6 seconds to 20 seconds with precise targeting. While the video spots did not speak about IPL directly, the brand highlighted their various USPs through each ad.

No Order Too Small (famously remembered as Gulab Jamun ad)

Super Fast Delivery


One needs to take note of the fact that such was the impact of the television campaign, that Swiggy not only witnessed a spike in orders, but also, an increase in the number of orders for Gulab Jamun. “The Gulab Jamun ad is so popular, that we have seen a 10X growth in the Gulab Jamun searches on Swiggy, after the ad was released,” shared Srivats, vice president – marketing, Swiggy.

This campaign was supported by extensive social media arm and deep-discounts strategy. On the app front was Swiggy Match Day Mania, offering discounts from 13000+ eateries and social media platforms saw contests such as #LightningFastQuiz.

“The IPL campaign Swiggy did in 2018 still holds a strong brand recall value to me. It was nice to see how they clubbed different age groups, key features of the app with cricket. Cricket is a sport, which brings together families, friends, colleagues, and everyone is bound to order food. Therefore, these short videos work well and fit perfectly,” said Sonam Shah, Founder & CEO, Treize Communications.

“One great example was how Swiggy used the pun on ‘Catch of the Day’ relating fish to the great catches of the match. Traditionally match food has always been chips or munchies, but with that post about the fish, it had to make you crave that fried fish bits or a good old sukka fish, something which only Swiggy will deliver in time. With a clever and extremely insightful combination of data, strategy, and creatives (love their emailers!) they are able to deliver a six on every global yorker,” expressed Roshan Kunder, Marketing Digital Manager, NAOS (Bioderma - Institut Esthederm - Etat Pur).

IPL in India has become a festival of its own kind shares Lakshya Kapoor, Founder, The Influencer Inc. “The creative ads that are hammered during the commercial breaks are a delight to watch. The best one for me has been the No Minimum Delivery offer, as that is something that I relate to the most. Sometimes you just do not want to order a heavy meal but just a donut or a waffle. They captured that insight right.”


Latching on the results seen in the last two years, Swiggy decided to push the envelope in 2019, joining the IPL bandwagon as the official Broadcast Sponsor. Further, Swiggy leveraged Hotstar, IPL’s streaming partner, allowing viewers to order food on Swiggy POP (pre-designed meals created within the POP segment of the app ranging between INR 65 – INR 200 without any delivery fee)but within Hotstar app’s UI itself.

The two major associations were supported by the revival of the Match Day Mania campaign again focusing on the Swiggy delivery benefits. Gulab Jamun uncle was also brought back, but this time around he was in love with Laddoos.

Swiggy’s IPL marketing strategy in progression depicts an upward arch, adding a new tactic with every passing season of the tournament. In 2019, post joining the entourage of IPL sponsors, the brand witnessed 30 percent increase in orders compared to the pre-cricket season.

Also Read: Experts Speak: IPL 2020 AdSpends to see TV-digital go hand in hand

Zomato IPL Strategy

While Zomato might not have been as out and about as its arch rival, Swiggy, the brand certainly is aware of what works for their audience.

Banking big on Gamification, Zomato Premier League has been at the forefront of the brand’s batting line up. From two consecutive years, gratifying the consumers with what they’re always looking for – deep-discounts, ZPL in addition to offering a steady discount on prominent restaurants, also allows consumers to predict who will win the matches slated on the given day. Winners stand a chance to win additional discount on their upcoming orders, making the ordering food through Zomato cycle, very difficult to break.

Taking the ZPL buzz on a larger level, the food-ordering app created a number of television spots, each conveying the fun and gratification involved in Zomato Premier League. Roping in personalities such as Virender Sehwag &Virat Kohli, the spots were during and before matches ensuring that the players stay glued to the screen throughout, conveying the magnitude of the campaign.

ZPL is also credited with creating buzz on social media, as consumers betting on their favourite team out of passion for the sport and discounts often take to platforms to share their enthusiasm.


The in-app game was supported by active digital marketing strategy. In a series of video campaigns, the brand featured cricket personalities such as Virender Sehwag and Virat Kohli. Each video asset focused on ways people spy on the cricketers to make sure they play the right bet.

Another, important aspect of the Zomato IPL strategy is the brand’s real-time take on social media. Known for their witty approach, Zomato has been seen commenting on IPL matches through a food connection in a rather fun way. For instance, on the day of a match between Kings Eleven Punjab & Chennai Super Kings, the brand created creatives with ‘Things Eleven Punjab’ & ‘Chennai Super Things’ sharing 11 foods that supporters of each team can order.

In 2019, within 3 weeks of IPL launch, Zomato saw over 4 million consumers participating in the game.

“ZPL was interesting to say the least, for all, irrespective of whether they follow cricket. The prediction bit offered stickiness, leading to consumers spending longer than usual duration on the app. Personally too, I found myself ordering more than I would have just to take a shot at the prediction game,” shares Fareen Vazir, Senior Account Manager, Mindshift Interactive. “Zomato also lived up to its witty image, sharing constant updates in the form of food puns and jokes which adds to the engagement factor. The idea is to keep consumers coming back, something that in my opinion Zomato go right.”

Echoing similar thoughts, Shreyas Deshmukh, Sr. Brand Services Manager - Social Media, FCB Interface says, “In India, cricket is worshipped. Zomato leveraged it intriguingly through the Zomato Premier League. It was the first-ever in-app gamification activity per my knowledge and nicely executed. Predict the winner of the match and win an additional 30% cashback. When I ordered Chinese food which I am a fan of, I did manage to get some cash back but sadly couldn't win anything. But, one thing is sure, I enjoyed it thoroughly.”

Dhruv Gaur, Digital Strategist, Triature Digital Marketing & Technology too is of the opinion that Zomato managed to create a level of addictiveness with ZPL. “Zomato’s ZPL from a campaign perspective covered its entire basis. It had the virality factor, the visibility factor, and the addictive-ness an IPL campaign needs to stand out of the clutter. As a user too, I found myself going back to the ZPL challenge. It was fun to root for your favourite team, plus the gratification fits in your daily needs. Worked well for me.”


Food tech in general has benefitted massively from IPL. A report by RedSeer Consulting shared that average number of daily orders on food-tech platforms jumped by 18.2 percent till the time of the report release as compared to Pre-IPL days.

Swiggy & Zomato have been in a heated battle in every aspect. Media Reports suggest that in November 2019, Swiggy reportedly had 1.4 million daily order and Zomato had 1.25 million daily orders. However, further, on a standalone basis, Zomato’s advertising promotional expenses increased 14.16X reaching INR 1213.6 Cr in FY19. Swiggy on the other hand spent INR 776.2 crore on advertising during the same time frame.

Both, Swiggy & Zomato, have benefitted from the IPL, by associating their larger marketing strategy through a tactical push on television. Conversely, their television communications helped consumers reach the apt touch-points driving RoI for the food ordering apps. An ecosystem with television at the core has proved to work; it will be interesting to see how Swiggy & Zomato will take it a notch higher this year.