IPL 2020: The role of startups & digital brands in the new-age sports marketing game

Social Samosa
Feb 09, 2021 07:28 IST
IPL 2020 startups and digital companies

Social Samosa takes a look at how newer brands, especially startups and digital companies leveraged IPL 2020 to reach a magnitude of audiences through a strategic approach.

Television for the longest was considered the big boy’s league owing to factors such as higher entry cost and production expenses for quality communication. However, over the years, the arrival of newer content formats, technological advancements, and sharper targeting has made television advertising a viable way forward for one and all. Leagues such as IPL have played a catalytic role in this process.

Increasing AdSpends from StartUps

One needs no number to understand the quality impact that advertising during Live Sports content can create, especially when it comes to advertising on broadcast. In addition to this, IPL over the years has managed to combine cricket with entertainment, catering to a myriad of audiences that would otherwise have been difficult to reach out to through one singular platform. According to BARC data, during its 13th edition, it dominated the annual cricket viewership by 40 percent, with 50 percent IPL viewers aged below 30 years. Also, a total of 269 mn viewers saw IPL in the opening week; this is 11 million more per match compared to 2019.

IPL’s massive reach through TV and its power that still holds strong, makes it a compelling marketing power play. This combined with high RoI makes it a platform that digital companies can leverage to make the most of the current changing consumer patterns and behaviours.

Even with the pandemic induced uncertainty, startups found a strong footing in the IPL TV advertising space. The very first name that comes to mind is, without doubt, the league’s title sponsor, Dream11. Soon enough startups and digital brands from across the genres hopped on board. This included names such as CRED and Byju’s. Each of these brands, with different objectives, managed to find marketing opportunities in IPL.

My11Circle’s IPL Win

New to the fantasy sports segment, My11Circle spent the days of the pandemic cementing loyalty with their consumers through engagement tactics. Through IPL, the brand took its offering to a wider base of consumers by a TVC campaign combined with an official league partnership. My11Circle launched ‘Play with Champions’, an initiative where users get a chance to test their skills against the champions of the game.

In conversation with Social Samosa, Saroj Panigrahi, My11Circle said that the brand entered the IPL advertising spectrum to create mass awareness around their brand. “Indians saw competitive or high-quality cricket after a hiatus of around 4-5 months. Plus, viewers now spent a lot of time at home. This coupled with IPL coinciding with the festive season. All these factors led to massive viewership. Since we were new to the fantasy world, we took this opportunity with both hands to make sure that we are able to reach as many consumers as possible,” Panigrahi said.

According to data, My11Circle witnessed ~100% GRPs on cricket since IPL and a +5x growth in web & mobile traffic. The fantasy sports brand also saw a ~7x during IPL vs pre IPL.

Also read: #XperienceTheFuture: Flipkart & realme leverages AI to create an interactive unboxing campaign

Lenskart’s Creative Approach

Taking the TVC route, Lenskart created an innovative and entertaining campaign emphasizing the need for sharp eyesight to excel in sports, the brand launched a campaign featuring real footage from IPL. A witty collection of IPL players missing their shot, the brand tied it up with their offering of quality eyewear.

Hitesh Malhotra, Chief Marketing Officer, said, "For our fans watching IPL, who we absolutely want to indulge themselves and enjoy the game in spite of the extended hours of Viewing, the campaign will serve as a quirky reminder to team up with Blu, that shall make for Safer, easy-going viewing."

The campaign helped Lenskart see a ~68% GRPs on cricket since IPL, with +8L new users added since the league. The brand also saw an 18% growth in traffic visits (July-August vs September-October).

upGrad’s Targeted Approach

As a part of upGrad’s first major sports association, the brand got into a high-value deal with Star India. According to the brand, the objective of the association was to accelerate the adoption of technology and online higher education. As a part of the campaign, upGrad created a TVC armed with crisp storytelling and CTA.

“Our association with Star India for IPL 2020 will enable us with the right platform to prepare ~550Mn viewers for a future-ready career. Moreover, this is our first major sports association and we will also be providing 'Free Career Guidance' to help viewers overcome the COVID-19 impact,” Arjun Mohan, CEO- India, upGrad informed Social Samosa at the beginning of IPL 2020.

The brand’s IPL association did manage to create a stir. upGrad saw a ~1.5x growth in average daily downloads and added ~7.4L new users since IPL. Further, upGrad witnessed 69% downloads during IPL 200 and a 146% increase in daily downloads since the league.

According to data provided by TAM Sports, 150 new brands joined the advertising circuit with IPL 2020. Five of the top 10 categories in terms of advertising volume were from the e-commerce sector - with FinTech, EdTech, and HealthTeach brands emerging as considerable contributors here. These were only a few of the examples from a wide range of digital brands and startups that entered the IPL marketing game and rather boldly.

The large scale of the event and mass appeal amalgamated with the favourite Indian sport or even passion, cricket, has caused IPL to emerge as a marketing festival of creativity and innovation, attracting digital companies and startups.

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