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People-first marketing: When brands leveraged IPL for deeper connections

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IPL 2020 people-centric marketing


Focusing on the human need for comfort and reassurance in times of a crisis, brands created several people-centric narratives with their IPL 2020 campaigns, providing people with hope.

The pandemic has set the base for a people first approach in marketing. With the production and distribution cycles halted and consumers focused on essentials, brands used the duration of the lockdown to create deeper connections with their consumer, making them feel heard and offering companionship — be it in the form of recipe videos or fitness challenges. Taking this people-first approach further, for IPL, brands made the frontline warriors and the consumers themselves the crux of the campaign. 

The sport and its players have a set of aspirations attached to them, making human connections even deeper and more meaningful. As a fleet of campaigns come in every day, brands banking on IPL were seen going above and beyond to not just advertise their products but engage with brand loyalists and ambassadors. These people-first campaigns reiterate the power of engaged communities and how strong connections with consumer ambassadors can go a long way. 

Expressing Gratitude

Mondelez International, in association with Star Sports, celebrated Cadbury Dairy Milk Thank You Day on 28th September with the intention to “Acknowledge the Unacknowledged” by way of expressing gratitude to the hundreds of people working behind the scenes in the toughest of circumstances to bring  joy to millions of people across the country during this IPL season.

Through this activation, the brand showed their gratitude towards the crew that ensured people could enjoy the matches from the comfort of their home. The celebration was a grand affair spanning over a week, which saw several interventions planned and it culminated with the Cadbury Dairy Milk Thank You Day on September 28th with the brand being given the ownership of Star Sports network throughout the day. Through an affable presence of Irfan Pathan, the brand emphasized on emotion of ‘paying it forward’, weaving their product into the initiative seamlessly. 

Through the campaign, Mondelez India weaved its ‘Meetha ho jaaye’ ideology with the spirit of thanking the heroes behind the scenes. The campaign managed to create an impact on the grassroots level, wherein consumers depicted the desire to thank those who make the broadcast happen. 

Bringing People Together

Sunfeast Yippee! Noodles too took a humane approach, albeit in a different way. Star Sports and Yippee! gave budding cricketers an opportunity to meet their favourite cricketer. As a part of their activation, young adult audiences got a chance to interact with the swashbuckling Indian cricketer & Kings XI Punjab Captain KL Rahul, asking him all sorts of fun questions while creating a deeper bond with the brand. This was Yippee’s first partnership with IPL and they were able to make the most of it with the help of creatives starring MS Dhoni and the integration featuring KL Rahul. It was one of the most recalled brand activations on IPL this year.

These sessions were in line with the strategy adopted by almost all IPL teams. They leveraged the format of virtual meetings to help fans feel connected with their favourite players and experience the excitement of an in-stadium meet & greet while sitting in their homes. This was perhaps one of the most tell-tale signs of the pandemic’s impact on daily life. 

Several cricket-themed contests were run by the brand on social media where winners were sent special goodies and hampers. Sunfeast Yippee! Noodles emerged as one of the most recalled brand activations of IPL 2020. Campaigns released during IPL 2020 helped brands bring people together in different ways. This worked well for the brands as they were able to target consumers across screens, which is very important given the rise of IPL viewership across platforms. 

With a people-first approach at the core, the brands have managed to leverage their ambassadors as influencers who connect with the end-user on a personal level. While opportunities like IPL help brands reach audiences on a mass scale, these additional creative activations enable personal bonds, making campaigns seamlessly integrated. 

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