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ICC CWC 2019: Ad spends to reach Rs 2,000 cr, but will it rain on the ad parade?

This ICC World Cup 2019 sees the entry of advertising heavyweight Uber along with 35+ sponsors. Uber’s digital spends alone are expected to reach upwards to 15+ odd crores, according to industry sources. Apart from Uber, other cricket heavy categories such as mobile handsets, auto clients, digital startups, FMCG, gaming companies, food delivery apps, consumer durables, and new age e-commerce brands have joined in the fray.

Obviously, sentiments are high for brands, said Mohit Joshi, Managing Director, Havas Media India, adding, “Since World Cup is happening in England, all matches fall under prime time for the Indian audience (3 pm to 11 pm), hence brands can benefit the maximum from advertising. India matches are expected to deliver around 5+ TVRs (avg), compared to non-India matches that are expected to deliver around 1.5 to 2 TVRs (avg).”

With these favourable conditions, ad spends for this ICC Cricket World Cup are expected to see a 40 per cent increase, compared to the previous World Cup where spends were around Rs 1,200 crore - Rs 1,300 crore.

According to Joshi, ad spends are expected to reach as high as Rs 2,000 crore for the tournament this year.

Star Sports has a new horse in the race for ad monies – Hotstar. Digital spends are expected to swell considerably for this World Cup, with Star expecting to reach Rs 300 crore spends on Hotstar alone, according to Joshi.

Gopa Kumar, COO, Isobar India, noted, “As per some estimates, on Star itself the spends have more than doubled since the previous World Cup. There is an increase in digital spending as well.”

He further elaborated, “With the sheer number of brands who are present on Hotstar, the enthusiasm and its importance in the marketing mix for these brands cannot be emphasised more. The brands which are not able to afford to be on Live Matches have also figured ways to be present on cricket, news sites and content syndications. There is definite increase in the spends compared to last years and as digital has become mainstream, this was bound to happen.”

Anticipating brand strategy for the World Cup, Navin Khemka, CEO, Mediacom South Asia, opined, “Since the World Cup is a long event, brands usually will plan much in advance. They would either launch their new communication or try and build a stronger association with Cricket.”

Depending on the brand objective, brands would either choose to associate throughout the tournament or only for the India matches. “Advertisers/ brands who want to have a full campaign around Cricket and World Cup look to advertise throughout. Some brands, who are looking to only cash in on the high viewership of India-specific matches, tend to pick and choose. The entry level costs are also high so not, therefore, all brands can afford to be on the World Cup from the beginning till the end. They also tend to come in with a shorter burst and a combination of India and non-India matches.”

However, leveraging the India only matches is a risky strategy for brands because of the downpour that is expected during the tournament, which could lead to cancellation of matches. This would put off brands who tend to be risk averse when investing their ad monies.

Gopa Kumar said that most brands have chosen to campaign throughout the duration of the tournament.

However, since “most of India’s games are falling on weekends, when viewership is expected to soar, it is further evoking advertiser interests”, who are then willing to bet on these high impact games.

It is a lose-lose for all sides if a match is cancelled due to the rain – a recent case in point is the India-New Zealand tie, which was a washout and no play could take place, and both teams were awarded 1 point each. The media agency loses their billings, Star Sports loses their revenue and clients lose their viewership. The inventory for the tournament is finite and cannot be carried forward, informed a media planner working closely with Star Sports. “If a match is abandoned, there is no spot, hence Star Sports cannot bill the clients,” he added.

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