Even sans fans, instadia advertising for IPL 2021 to see strong brand associations

The 14th edition of the Indian Premier League (IPL) is set to be played under the shadow of resurgence of COVID-19 cases in the country. Played outside India amid COVID-19 conditions in the UAE, IPL 2020 was closed to cricket fans’ presence at the stadiums. IP 2021 is set to see a repeat of matches being played in empty stadiums, albeit this year, the matches will be played in multiple venues across India – Ahmedabad, Bengaluru, Chennai, Delhi, Mumbai, and Kolkata.

The opening match will be played between Mumbai Indians and Royal Challengers Bangalore in Chennai on April 9. However, given the alarming growth in the number of fresh COVID-19 infections (with new cases crossing 1 lakh as on April 5, 2021), there are growing calls from certain quarters for postponing the tournament, if not cancelling it altogether. However, Sourav Ganguly, President, Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI), has affirmed to the media that IPL 2021 is on schedule. Rajiv Shukla, Vice-President, BCCI, has also said that IPL will proceed without any problems. He also suggested that the IPL players get vaccinated against the virus.

At stake are staggering numbers. According to Duff & Phelps, the value of the IPL ecosystem has been on a steady rise – from Rs 19,500 crore in 2014 to Rs 47,500 crore in 2019, before the global pandemic threw a spanner in 2020, where the IPL ecosystem was valued at Rs 45,800 crore. As far as franchisee brand values are concerned, Mumbai Indians retained the top spot in the franchise brand rankings for the fifth consecutive year, with a brand value of Rs 761.0 crore, down 5.9% from last year. Chennai Super Kings (CSK) and Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR) have seen their brand value erode by approximately 16.5% and 13.7%, respectively, compared to last year. CSK’s brand value has reduced from Rs 732 crore to Rs 611 crore, while KKR’s brand value has dropped from Rs 629 crore to Rs 543 crore.

In 2019, IPL was one of the biggest brand visibility platforms due to its high viewership. But in 2020, due to the spread of the coronavirus, the tournament was hosted in the UAE in empty stadiums. As per TAM AdEx report, IPL 12 witnessed a 5% rise in instadia advertising as compared to IPL 11. As per the published data, the top 10 brands present on different Instadia elements covered more than 60% share of Instadia advertising, with Vivo IPL and Vivo V15 emerging as the top brands in 2019.

Interestingly, instadia advertising increased by more than 5% during IPL 12 compared to IPL 11 and registered over 60 news brands. Amongst the new brands, Vivo V15 topped the charts followed by Tata Harrier. Fantasy Sports platform Dream11, which now holds the title sponsorship of the IPL 13, was the third most instadia advertised brand. Star Network’s over-the-top (OTT) platform Hotstar VIP claimed the fourth position with the intention of encouraging digital viewership of the tourney. Perhaps one of the reasons brands leveraged IPL last year was due to the long pause in advertising due to the pandemic. With festival season round the corner during the IPL more brands jumped into the wagon to get the best possible mileage for the brands as brands were desperate to liquidate their inventory.

Franchisees are still working hard to get the brands on board as many brands are busy closing the financial year. With the 14th IPL starting in the new financial year brands may have planned and earmarked some budgets for this season. Brands will also bargain hard with the franchisee asthe tournament is held without spectators. Will we witness rise in instadia advertising this year? We must wait and watch as many brands are sitting on the fence to take that final decision to be part of the IPL. Remember after the IPL matches the T-20 world cup is going to be held in India which is a big-ticket international cricketing event. So, brands will be cautious to open their purse strings totally and exhaust their marketing budgets.

Speaking to Adgully Jayesh Yagnik, CEO, MOMS Outdoor Media Solutions Pvt Ltd said that “Instadia advertising for upcoming IPL is expected to see strong brand associations. Usually, the instadia advertising reach is achieved through the brand visibility on TV and OTT.  Even if the on-ground audiences might not be there or be present in limited numbers but we can expect a good TV and OTT viewership for which instadia works equally effectively. As compared to previous seasons this season is expected to see an equal or larger revenue. Most of the brands and teams are also building strong digital and social media presence to gain visibility as additional medium to reach out to audience.”

Business consultant and value investor- Sudu said that yes there has been a dip in overall OOH spends due to COVID. We saw a dip during the current India vs England series as well. With less crowds entering the stadium, instadiaadvertising willcertainly drop. However, sponsors like Vivo who have paid Rs .440 crs per annum for rights that include instadia will continue to leverage the medium.  Revenues will be impacted for IPL teams as local brandswho partner for visibility may not be willing to spend.  Instadia scores high on impact multiplier on account of TV viewership. Last IPL the viewership was up by over 20%.

This year also there will not be much advertising spends and will be very similar to last year. Giving his point of view R. Venkatasubramanian, President & National Head Investments, Havas Media remarked thatinstadia advertising is not only for on-ground spectators but also mainlyfor the TV viewers.In IPL, not all advertisers get space inside the stadium. That is available only to central sponsorship advertisers such as Dream11, TATA Motors, Cred, Paytm, Unacademy, Upstox, CEAT and team sponsors such as jersey sponsors, helmet sponsors and official sponsors. Given this, there will be no change in terms of ad spends. The upcoming IPL edition will be like last year when the 2020 edition of IPL witnessed no on-ground spectators and had only TV viewership due to the pandemic.This year, due to fewer deliverables, advertisers have paid 10-15% less.

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