IPL Playbook: Anil Viswanathan on the eternal bond of Cadbury Dairy Milk & Cricket

Cadbury Dairy Milk Cricket

Be it the dancing girl or sponsoring the IPL ground staff – Cadbury Dairy Milk and cricket have been inseparable. Anil Viswanathan tells Social Samosa that the data on cricket as a marketing tool has been contrivable and undeniable, shedding light on the brand’s IPL strategy.

It was March 2020 and Cadbury Dairy Milk like most Indian brands was engrossed in brainstorming campaign ideas for the IPL 13. The brand was keen on adding a new element to their ‘Kuch Meetha Ho Jaaye’ philosophy. Something actionable that would result in real-world impact. Thus came the idea of associating with the IPL groundstaff – the people who make it all happen, bringing to life their new, Kuch Accha Ho Jaaye position. 

But, the universe had different plans. IPL 2022 was postponed and this wasn’t an idea that could be executed virtually. 

“People have to experience it, people have to see it, which is where we held back,” reminisces, Anil Viswanathan, Vice President – Marketing, Mondelez India. 

The generosity angle of their communication had to be put on hold, however, not for long. 

The Generosity Chapter 

Viswanathan tells Social Samosa that the brand has been adding purpose to its communication for the past three-four years, building on their chapter of generosity. “We don’t just want to stop at communication, we want to make it more purposeful. That’s where the platform of generosity came to play,” he adds.  

The roots of their chapters of generosity were sown in 2018-19 when Cadbury Dairy Milk was experimenting with the packages. While at the beginning of 2020, the brand had to pull the brakes on the campaign, the larger part of the year saw everyone speaking about gratitude and empathy. This is when the brand revived the campaign with Cadbury Thank You bars. Released in multiple languages the bars sported messages of gratitude, this was further supported by a video asset.  

The initiative, however, was tied to Cadbury wrappers which eventually get thrown away. Thus, the brand decided to take it a step further.

As a part of the campaign, Cadbury Dairy Milk was associated with Kaun Banega Crorepati. “They did a very nice exercise where they turned the camera to the person behind the scenes who was actually shooting them. Amitabh Bachchan would then say that ‘These are the people who helped KBC go on’. Thus driving the notion of acknowledging the unacknowledged,” Viswanathan recollects. 

The initiative was then tied in with cricket through the ‘Batting For Good’ campaign. Cadbury Dairy Milk was associated with Mumbai Indians and for every run scored, the brand intended to donate towards relief funds. This was then extended to their Diwali and Rakhi campaigns through ‘Not Just A Cadbury Ad’ campaign that worked towards helping small retailers. 

Cut to 2022, Cadbury Dairy Milk associated with Mumbai Cricket Association to become sponsors of the Ground Staff. As a part of this initiative, the brand introduced best-in-class travel, accommodation, taking care of nutritional needs and providing customized jerseys designed by renowned Fashion Designer Masaba Gupta, throughout the season, to the ground staff.  

Also Read: #BrandSaga: Cadbury Dairy Milk: Giving us reasons to buy chocolates one ad at a time….

The IPL Angle 

Through their association with IPL this year, Cadbury Dairy Milk aims to add scale to their gratitude chapter. 

“The reason why we have chosen IPL is scale. We think that if we do something there people will notice and it will strike a chord. We’ll hopefully then reset the way we look at groundsmen,” Viswanathan adds. 

This year as well, the chocolate brand has partnered with Mumbai Indians and Star Network, the former serving an emotional appeal as well. Many players in Mumbai Indians are from Maharashtra and are well acquainted with the ground staff since their boyhood. 

“When we spoke to one of the groundsmen he said he has seen Rohit Sharma since he was a boy; so imagine the emotion there. With Star Sports, we want to take this idea outside cricket into the other networks, and spread it on social,” he informs. 

Going forward, the brand will be creating content featuring members of the cricket team as they share their experiences of gratitude with the groundsmen. Similarly, on Star Sports, Cadbury will be creating modules featuring heart-warming stories. Star Sports anchors will also be plugging in the initiatives at the right touchpoints. 

Viswanathan says that “This has become the Diwali of quarter two” and a good opportunity to build engagement.

He explains that with the added digital paraphernalia, it becomes easier to create a conversation during IPL, citing CRED’s Rahul Dravid campaign as an example. 

Also Read: Kapil Grover on Burger King India’s Game Plan to win over Youth with IPL

Cadbury Dairy Milk & Cricket 

Cadbury Dairy Milk and cricket are a love story of ages, however, there is more to the relationship. Viswanathan shares that it is a well-thought strategy. “Cricket has been a part of our investment area because the data is very contrivable about the kind of reach it is going to provide; even in the early days of the cricket. 

The brand has a market mix module that suggests RoI on the kind of investment they plan to make. “The important thing is that it is Dhandha (business) so there’s no ambiguity that we need to measure it, right?” 

However, cricket as a marketing tool comes with a high entry cost and is not feasible for the entire Modelez portfolio. Communication consisting of cricket is a focus point of Cadbury Dairy Milk only, at the moment. 

“We know the price for participation and thus it has to reach a certain scale. It cannot come at the cost of our other marketing activities. It has to become a part of the integrated part of the annual strategy, where I know that I can afford this, without compromising my annual budget,” he explains. 

Measurement every year through their market mix models gives the brand a linkage right up to the sale, not just equity or consideration. “And we have seen that relation come through,” he adds. 

Viswanathan further explains that consumer consumption is now driven by occasions. With the rising inflation, businesses are bound to get impacted and thus it’s important to leverage the cricket fervour seen at the time. 

He believes that the consumer is now more aware of what they put in their mouth – not just functionally but also emotionally and brands need to be a part of this holistic consumer trend through their communication. 


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