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How cricket is sprucing up Coolwinks’ growth strategy

Online eyewear platform Coolwinks has come on board as the principal sponsor for IPL franchise, Sunrisers Hyderabad (SRH), for the tournament this year. This is the brand’s first ever tie-up for a sponsorship with the Indian Premier League. As part of the sponsorship, Coolwinks’ logo will be placed on the front of the SRH Jersey this year. 

Coolwinks has launched a digital campaign with #HowCoolIsThat, along with plethora of contests on its platforms to engage the avid cricket fans. The brand is also running radio campaigns in multiple cities and is planning to push a TV campaign on air soon. 

Founded in 2016, Coolwinks, within a short span, it has emerged as one of the most popular online eyewear platforms in the country. 

Ganesh Iyer, CEO, Coolwinks, said that this association with SRH opens up many avenues for future ventures in the field of cricket.

In conversation with Adgully, Ganesh Iyer speaks at length about Coolwinks' strategy around IPL as well as cricket. Excerpts:  

What is the strategy behind associating with IPL? How did you zero in on Sunrisers Hyderabad for the sponsorship?

IPL is the biggest sporting event in the country and not just one event. It’s a proper two-and-a-half-month long event, covering almost 20 per cent of the entire year. That’s our first reason for associating with IPL. The second reason is the whole event and its reach on TV, which is humongous. The third reason is that the digital consumption due to the content – a major part of the consumption happens on Hotstar – which is only growing.

Since we are present digitally, there is a greater alignment, which we are going to target with the right kind of team that has the ability to spend and believes in innovations on digital.

If you look at Sunrisers Hyderabad, they have never been out there in terms of their star players. For instance, for RCB you have Virat, or Rohit for Mumbai Indians. On the other hand, SRH have not gone overboard; they have been under the radar, but have been visible on television. That’s what Coolwinks has also been over the last couple of years. We have been there and have been delivering our results year on year and reaching the milestones that we had set for ourselves. We now wanted to really go out there and Sunrisers fit the bill. They also have the hunger to prove themselves and keep winning. They have been consistently amongst the top 3 teams for the last 3-4 years.

What are your expectations as a brand from this association?

It is more about creating awareness about Coolwinks and what the brand stands for. Our internal research revealed that people are aware that they have a platform available, where they can go and buy eyeglasses and sunglasses. So, that was the key purpose, which is delivering the reach to the right set of audience and also building credibility. I think, in India the situation is still that brands can build only when they are there on TV, compared to the other markets.

With this association, are you also looking to target the aspiring customers in Tier 3 and 4 markets?

Yes. Though the optical category is growing, accessibility remains a challenge. Compared to the metros, if you look at the smaller towns and interiors of the country, the ratio of optical stores to consumers is quite low. Therefore, that’s where we believe our category plays a much better role in giving accessibility to the consumers.

What are the other activities that you have planned around IPL for the brand?

It will be a complete 360-degree activity comprising radio, outdoor, we will be launching a TVC closer to the IPL with the players, we will also be present on digital media platforms like Hotstar, YouTube, etc. We will also have a substantial focus on activation; there will be road shows around the country in colleges, malls, etc. We are also partnering with other big platforms like Amazon, which will also drive a lot of eyeballs for us by carrying us on their platforms.

IPL is a very expensive proposition, what kind of ROI are you expecting out of this association?

I can’t precisely mention that, but definitely like every marketing company, we are looking for more revenues than the expenses. Our goal is to drive more incremental sales than what incremental expenditure we’ve had.

What are you ad spends?

As you said, IPL is pretty expensive, so it’s definitely going to be an expensive spend. Though I can’t give an exact count, but it is substantial to be in IPL and to be visible as one of the brands.

Which agency is handling your creative duties?

We are using all the top agencies under Dentsu Aegis Network, which includes creative mandate, and Planning & Buying. We are also investing heavily in OOH.

What kind of in-stadia activities have you planned?

We are branding the entire home stadium and there will be giveaways to fans and so on. The entire activation will be around the experience of eyewear. We want to give people the perspective on how to look beyond spectacles as a medical or corrective treatment and see it more from an accessory point of view.

How do you plan to extend you association with SRH beyond the two-and-a-half months of IPL?

At this point in time, we are only associated with them for one year. But as most sponsors, we have the first right of refusal so we may choose to extend it. We will be focussing a lot on outdoor activations and road shows. We will continue aggressively on TV, because after the IPL there is the ICC World Cup, which will go on for another two and a half months. Thus, cricket is going to be there in our portfolio for the next 4-5 months. We are planning to come out in 2019 as the most preferred brand for the consumers.

What would be your strategy for 2019 other than cricket?

As I had said, we will be present 360 degrees on all media. For the first six months at least there will be cricket, which will have all the eyeballs in the country. Post that, we will not let go of the momentum and increase spends that we have started. In terms of growth, we are expecting 2x growth of what we had in 2018, that’s our key objective.

Please take us through Coolwinks’ brand journey?

We launched Coolwinks in 2016 as an online platform. In India, wearing prescription glasses is usually considered ‘uncool’ and unglamorous, which is very prevalent among the first time wearers. People would rather go without wearing glasses and end up further damaging their eyesight. We wondered how we could do things differently from other optical stores, and at the same time also stand out as well as make glasses a very cool category. That’s what our purpose is and that’s how we started – by deciding to break the stereotypes. 

Our guiding principle is ‘improving life by improving sight’. That’s something in our DNA. We have seen how poor eyesight impacts life. That is an area where we are investing and we believe over a period of time it will pay off. 

At present, we are focusing on strengthening our presence online. 

Our TG is the youth under the age of 27 years, who are an aspiring population, having the spending capabilities and open to experimenting with their looks. Currently, our creative and positioning is more towards the younger audience. But as we go forward, we want to position ourselves as a mass brand for every age group who is looking for category differentiation. This doesn’t mean that we do not cater to the older consumers. 

As far as our performance is concerned, 2018 was a good year for us. We set out with a budget and goal to achieve, substantially beating our own estimates.

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