When legacy meets youth brigade: What the title sponsorship deal means for Tata & IPL

In a surprising development, the Tata Group took over the title sponsorship rights for the Indian Premier League 2022, replacing Vivo. The IPL title sponsorship has been facing some turmoil is recent times, since PepsiCo decided to terminate its association with the mega sporting tournament as the title sponsor mid-way in 2015. Chinese mobile brand Vivo came onboard as the title sponsor for the remainder of the period and again won the title sponsorship rights for the 2017-2022 period. However, due to the border skirmish between the armed forced of the India and China and the Galwan incident, there were strong anti-China sentiments across the country, which prompted the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) to seek a new sponsor. Dream11 won the bid for the Covid-disrupted 2020 edition of IPL. Vivo returned as the title sponsor of IPL 2021.

ALSO READ:Tata Group to take over as the IPL title sponsor from Vivo

As per industry reports, BCCI will be getting Rs 1,124 crore for the next two years, of which Tata will pay around Rs 670 crore and Vivo the rest. This came after Vivo decided to pull out three months before the start of IPL 2022. Vivo had two of its five-year (2017-22) contract still in place and the rights will now be transferred to the Indian conglomerate.

Sponsoring IPL may be a perfect fit for the Tata brand, especially when they want to be seen as a young, vibrant and forward looking brand talking to the generation next. This is a very interesting move from the Tata stable as the brand is looking at a mass reach, especially after their recent foray into the consumer segment business in a big way by acquiring consumer facing brands such as Big Basket, Soulful and 1mg. Besides that, they will very soon announce the relaunch with a new brand positioning for Air-India after the takeover of the airline, which will need a great marketing and advertising push to generate awareness and engage with a larger audience in highly competitive air travel business.

Cricket always has had a mass appeal in India and IPL also brings in that young generation audience who engages with the tournament intensely. Tata’s were fundamentally always seen has a company with a strong legacy, but who had limited exposure to the consumer in the past. The legacy brands have stepped up and have moved out of their shell to be aligned with sports. Hero Group is another such brand, which is the title sponsor for ISL football. When it comes to sports, Tata divisions such as Tata Steel and Titan have been associated with a few sports like football, athletics, marathon and the Tata Open Badminton. Cricket was never a bit ticket agenda, but in the early 80’s there were a few players at the national level who represented Tata in cricket and participated in domestic tournaments. Taking over the IPL title sponsorship is big coup for Tata.

As India’s biggest conglomerate, Tata has been in expansion mode and has entered into several new emerging sectors, but more aggressively in the consumer segment. These new consumer facing brands will need wider reach and mass appeal to push their product portfolios, thus IPL is in way a good bet to engage with a larger spectrum of the audience.

IPL has grown bigger and bigger each year. And the 2022 edition will see the addition of two new IP teams, which will only further boost the popularity of the tournament and be an even bigger media vehicle for brands.

Adgully spoke to a cross-section of industry experts to know more about what Tata’s coming on board means for IPL, what will the brand rub-off be for both since Tata and IPL are two huge independent brands with tremendous brand equity, what the association with IPL will bring to the table for Tata, and more.

Industry Speak

Ayaz Memon, Indian Sports Writer and Commentator:

“The top companies and the top brands always want to associate with top properties, where they can leverage as much value for themselves as much as they provide. In that sense, it's worked out as a good trick and in a way, it's also important. This is a strong move by Tata's to get into sports and it's coming with the IPL. They are in many ways associated with the backend, as they start off with football academies and so on and so forth. But this becomes a great move as, IPL is a domestic tournament and is a global sport property today.

IPL has had a bit of a rollercoaster ride like all sports properties in the pandemic, and the company decided to give up sponsorship because of the cell phone company Vivo and there was some turmoil during that period. This leaves the BCCI richer by 100 and odd crores, I don't think the BCCI’s would mind this association at all and neither would TATA because they get to associate with a property which is a byword in every Indian namespace, and also globally.

Continuing further he said that Tata is one of the iconic brands and one of the iconic business names in India. It makes a big difference to be associated with that. Let's face it, it works both ways because I think TATAs would also benefit from associating with the IPL which is amongst the top most force properties in the world. For a long while, they have been trying to get most companies wanting to associate in a major way, because they are the starters, there is not a minor way with Indian cricket and IPL, if it comes through, I think this is going to work out, in a sense, well, for both the company as well as BCCI.”

Charu Sharma, Sports Commentator and Director of Pro Kabaddi League:

“Tata is a big name in India. Any sporting event or any other event in India will be pleased to have Tata’s who are India’s leading long term hereditary business house will have a positive rub-off because the Tata’s have that kind of reputation as well.

While the association with Tata is a big development, IPL itself has become very big now and they don’t really need a certain name to make the tournament stronger. It’s all about the economy – if they get the money that they are seeking from any other major brand or global brand or Indian brand, they will take it. I don’t think they are selective about it. It is a good name, but it’s not so much about how much IPL can benefit from the name of TATA, because they have transcended all of that.

The IPL is the single biggest and most visible sporting property in the cricket playing world, certainly in India. There is no doubt that the Tata’s, which is a huge group, will benefit in a major way by associating with this giant property, because it is not a single product company, they can leverage it in many ways – something like sponsorship servicing.

The Tata’s are back with a bang in India’s biggest sporting sponsorship and I can only hope as a lover of all sports that they now start showing their generosity and their connection with other sports as well.”

Harish Bijoor, Brand Guru & Founder, Harish Bijoor Consults Inc:

“TATA is a clean name. A TATA association gives IPL positive strokes of the positive kind. TATA is also a global name today. It adds a big allure in India diaspora markets, which are big IPL and cricket consumption markets as well.

The rub-off is positive, big and clean – three things IPL needs for sure!

The title sponsor is the ultimate endorser of brand IPL. This means the brand equity of IPL gets a leg up! Interestingly the IPL umbrella is held up by TATA, and under it will be teams that represent a diverse ecosystem of business brands and names, Reliance included!

For TATA, this is a big route to eyeballs. Just as TATA Neu is about to make an appearance, this is a timely vehicle to use to eyeball domination levels.”

Naresh Gupta, Managing Partner and Chief Strategy Officer, BangInTheMiddle:

“Tata isn’t a name that is associated with cricket, though Titan was a sponsor of some test series. The brand now is getting deeply into the consumer space with Big Basket and 1MG and Airlines, etc., this is the time for the brand to get into active mind space. I guess they will use this platform as the place to show the new Tata Journey.

IPL as a brand is doing well, so a Tata Association is really business as usual for them. They have had DLF, Pepsi, Vivo being associated with them, and all these are great brands. IPL is far more than just the naming sponsor, it partners with so many more brands.

For Tata, it is about how they treat it strategically. This is overall at group level, so we may see something that we haven’t seen before.”

N Chandramouli, CEO, TRA Research:

“Tata is a fast-changing organisation and is no longer the salt-to-software conglomerate we once knew. They have aggressively acquired Internet companies to make them a serious player in that space. The IPL platform will give them a chance to create a new positioning for themselves.

IPL was losing some of its sheen due to many reasons. When a brand like Tata partners with IPL it reiterates the value proposition of the league. It’s a win-win for both.

The IPL partnership will give a vast audience to Tata, and will help achieve what I suspect will be a rehauling of the Tata brand.”

Megha Ahuja, VP - Digital Media Planning, Carat India:

“This was supposed to happen sooner or later as Vivo’s presence was bringing bad publicity for both the league as well as the company. With negative sentiment around Chinese products, the company to pull out of the sponsorship with one season left for the deal to be completed.

India's most favourite sport got Indians’ most favourite brand support. Irrespective of whether you watch IPL matches or not, it does feel good to hear this news as it brings patriotism back within the sports-crazy country. Will it be a win-win situation for both IPL and Tata? Only time will tell.”


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