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PKL is seeing increasingly innovative brand integrations & engagement: Supratik Sen

Pro Kabaddi League (PKL) is a ground-breaking initiative by Mashal Sports and Star India. Ever since its inception in 2014, the League has revolutionised the sport of kabaddi with stunning innovations, making it an aspirational sport for players and fans alike. Backed by the Amateur Kabaddi Federation of India (AKFI), and supported by participating members of the International Kabaddi Federation (IKF) and the Asian Kabaddi Federation (AKF), the League has witnessed tremendous growth over the past seasons. 

Vivo is the Title Sponsor for PKL, while Tata Motors, Dream11 and Honda are the Associate Sponsors. 

U Mumba is one of the 12 teams participating in Season 7 of PKL. The team faces Telugu Titans today (September 10, 2019) in the 87th match of the tournament. The match will be played in Kolkata. 

Supratik Sen, Co Founder and MD, U Sports, which owns Team U Mumba, speaks to Adgully on how PKL has emerged as an attractive proposition for brands over the years. U Sports is helmed by Ronnie Screwvala (Founder) and Supratik Sen.

How are brands now leveraging PKL teams for promotions as well as for firming up their regional connect?
Brands are excited to get in on the action of this emerging sports event. While branding is key, brands want to go beyond the jersey and logo spaces. Innovative brand integrations and engagement are key decisive factors for brands to come on board. 

At U Mumba, we understand the need for this and try to come up with the best brand integrations possible. For U Mumba, brands like Indigo Paints and Haldirams have created various engagement activities, targeting the right audiences to generate enough conversations for them and more. In fact, Indigo Paints is back with us for a second season. One great example is a uniquely designed contest for Indigo Paints that got us nearly 900 entries. 

Which brands are investing heavily in PKL teams?
Brand across all categories are eyeing PKL teams as an investment opportunity. In a country obsessed with cricket all this while, non-cricketing sports such as Kabaddi are now being perceived positively as well and are growing at a very fast pace. Investing in these teams as sponsors or even as owners has become immensely popular. Brands from most sectors have invested in Kabaddi – primarily for the reach and affinity of the sport with the masses. 

For U Mumba, we have Indigo Paints, Haldirams, and Flamingo, to name a few of the total 10 sponsors and 8 partners. As a sports brand, we try to build long-term relationship with partners. As I said earlier, Indigo Paints is back for a second season. Flamingo has partnered with us in kabaddi (U Mumba), table-tennis (U Mumba TT) and volleyball (U Mumba Volley) this year. 

What categories of brands have associated the most with PKL?
We have 10 sponsors and 8 partners. The categories of sponsorship have been taken by the following: Indigo Paints as Presenting Sponsor, Haldirams as Powered by Sponsor, Mitashi as Electronics Partner, BKT Tyres as Off-Road Highway Tyre Partner, Flamingo as Pain Management Partner, Vihan Switches as Electric Partner, Je & Vee as Infrastructure Partner, Yellow Diamond as Kids Squad Partner and Fingers as Audio Partner. In fact, Indigo Paints was Presenting Sponsor for U Mumba in Season 6 as well. Amongst the prominent partners, U Mumba also has Radio City as Radio Partner, Superfan AI as Fan Engagement Partner, Gold’s Gym as Fitness Partner, Fravashi International Academy as Education Partner, INI Farms as F&B Partner and Cloud 9 as Beverage Partner. We also had Dome, NSCI SVP Stadium as Venue Partner and PayTM/ as Ticketing Partner. 

How has PKL emerged as a media property for brands?
Over the seasons, we have seen a rise in the number of brands that want to be associated with the franchise. Initially, in the first season, brands were reluctant to invest, but with the growing popularity and ROI, U Mumba has seen a good rise in inquiries from brands across various categories for being associated with the franchise. This year, we have cracked the most deals and partnerships. 

What has been the overall ad spends of brands on PKL. What has been the YoY growth of the tournament?
It has been a close to 2-digit growth and I can say that the revenue plus the number of sponsors have grown in a major way – the number of sponsors has grown from 5 in Season 6 to 10 in Season 7.


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