"PhonePe has invested even more heavily on IPL this year with 6 different sponsorships"

The 14th edition of IPL is commencing on April 9, 2021. Over the last few years, IPL as a property has become the favourites of many brands who invest in IPL and get a great visibility of their brands.  It is learnt that with just two weeks left the inventory for the spots are almost 80% sold. IPL has always been a great property for marketers to invest in, given the fan following it enjoys across the nation and reaches a diverse target audience both on TV and mobile. 

Last year, PhonePe was one of the biggest beneficiaries, adding 12 million new users since IPL 2020 to cross 250 million users and registering a whopping 835 million transactions in the month of October. With over 835 million UPI transactions, PhonePe also overtook G-Pay to claim first spot. For PhonePe, the association with IPL in the past has proven to be fruitful. India’s biggest sporting extravaganza has given them a platform to create visibility and high brand recall for the PhonePe brand. Looking at last year’s success, the brand has decided to be associated with this year’s IPL. The awareness generated around the digital payments last year across different users in the segment has further boosted the confidence of the brand to be part of this year’s IPL. 

In an exclusive conversation with Adgully, Sameer Nigam, Founder & CEO, PhonePe, speaks at length and shares his point of view on how they have been successfully leveraging the Indian Premier League, which draws major eyeballs both in India and globally. 

As in the recent years, this year, too, your association with IPL is going to be strong. What’s the key driver that has prompted you to be present in IPL and what kind of expectations have been set this year from a marketing perspective?

Cricket is the most popular sport in India and IPL is the biggest sporting event of the year. The League continues to hold mass appeal across the country. It is one of those few events that is watched by the entire family together, making it the most captive and engaged audience that maps perfectly with the kind of customers we were looking to connect with.

We are kicking off our most aggressive national marketing campaign ever, starting with IPL 2021 this month. We have invested even more heavily on IPL this year, taking up 6 different sponsorships. As the category leader, it is our vision as well as our ambition to bring digital payments to every Indian household. Our aggressive marketing efforts are in line with this strategic priority. 

It is an expensive affair to be present on IPL. How do you plan to evaluate the effectiveness of your campaign and test your awareness scores? Any measurement process been devised to know the ROI?

For ROI, we look at brand perception and mind measures along with business growth in terms of user acquisition. We have seen a strong positive impact on both brand and business through the years and hence, the continued association. 

You had over 250 million registered users during the last IPL? What kind of growth is envisaged from IPL 2021? What will be your communication strategy to deliver the right message across to your TG?

We had over 250 million registered users during the IPL last year. We currently have over 280 million registered users.

The opportunity that we are chasing is a massive one and getting there will take, among other things – continuous experiments with mass media advertising formats to realise our vision of helping a billion-plus citizens’ experience and actively use digital payments in the country. To build a brand, one needs to keep it simple and comprehensible for people to understand and relate to easily. This year, we are curating a narrative around PhonePe being a default part of everyday life for most Indians. Through our stories, we aim to invite non-users to embrace this new way of life and build stronger affinity and preference among category users. 

How do you plan to penetrate the smaller towns? Are you planning separate communication and media strategy to reach the smaller towns?

We already have a pan-India presence and have seen adoption across age groups, income levels and gender. Our registered user base of over 280 million is spread across 18,000+ pin codes, covering over 95% of India’s total pin codes. Also, over 80% of our users are from Tier 2, 3, 4 cities and beyond. 

Our IPL campaign will run aggressively across multiple platforms, including TV, digital and social media equally. Besides, we have ample OOH visibility through our QR codes at over 18 million kiranas and offline merchants across the length and breadth of the country throughout the year. 

How do you plan to supplement the IPL campaign? You need to take your audience to the next level of engagement for registration. What kind of engagement strategy are you looking at on a continuous basis beyond IPL?

The marketing interventions will run through the year, with a focus on the upcoming IPL with multiple campaigns planned post IPL as well. We will be able to comment on these campaigns in due course. 


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