Brand IPL: Still A Smash Hit?

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Rocked by controversies and audience fatigue, can the Indian Premier League (IPL) brand regain the ground it has lost? Season 5, which starts on April 4, 2012, will be a litmus test, says MSLGROUP …

Rocked by controversies and audience fatigue, can the Indian Premier League (IPL) brand regain the ground it has lost? Season 5, which starts on April 4, 2012, will be a litmus test, says MSLGROUP India's latest executive report.

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  • 1. A report by MSLGROUP India, part of the Publicis Groupe1
  • 2. Hanmer MSL is one of India’s largest multidiscipline across offices in Mumbai, Delhi, Bangalore, Chennai, communications firms and a leader in the area of Kolkata, Ahmedabad, Hyderabad and Pune, as well speciality communications services including financial as the reach of the MSLGROUP and Publicis Groupe communications, social media, crisis and issues international network, Hanmer MSL works with more management, corporate reputation, strategic public than 150 leading Indian brands and multinationals to relations, events and activation and creative services. deliver world-class communications. Through its powerful network of more than 400 staff For 23 years, MSLGROUP’s Asia team has counseled Pune, Bangalore, Chennai, Hyderabad and Kolkata. An global, regional and local clients, helping them activation network of colleagues reaches an additional establish, protect and expand their businesses 125 Indian and 100 Chinese cities and a strong affiliate and brands across this fast-growing region. Today, partner network of adds another 23 Asian cities to our MSLGROUP has the largest PR, social media and reach. MSLGROUP Asia’s team has been recognized events team in Greater China (16 offices and 1000 as a leader by multiple industry groups, including most colleagues) and India (15 offices and 575 colleagues) recently Hanmer MSL India (‘PR agency of the year and is actively working to lead the development 2011’ by PRCAI), Luminous (‘Local Hero/agency of the of the industry with the regular publication of year 2010’ by Marketing Events Asia), Genedigi Group whitepapers and reports and innovative Learning & China (‘Innovative China SMEs’ by Forbes China), People Development programs to nurture talent. The ICL MSL Taiwan (‘Agency of the year 2011’ by Taiwan MSLGROUP Asia team includes 38 owned offices and Advertiser Associate), and has won more than 50 1,675 colleagues in Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou, awards in the last two years. Learn more about us at: Chengdu, Hong Kong, Macau, Taipei, Tokyo, Seoul, asia.mslgroup.com + Twitter + Facebook Singapore, Kuala Lumpur, Mumbai, Delhi, Ahmedabad, MSLGROUP is Publicis Groupe’s strategic 100 offices worldwide, MSLGROUP is also the largest communications and engagement group, advisors PR network in fast-growing China and India. The group in all aspects of communication strategy: from offers strategic planning and counsel, insight-guided consumer PR to financial communications, from thinking and big, compelling ideas – followed by public affairs to reputation management and from thorough execution. Learn more about us at: crisis communications to experiential marketing and www.mslgroup.com + http://blog.mslgroup.com + events. With more than 3,500 people across close to Twitter + YouTube. Publicis Groupe [listed on the Euronext Paris networks; and interactive and digital marketing led by Exchange - FR0000130577 - and part of the CAC 40 Digitas and Razorfish networks. VivaKi develops new index] is the world’s third largest communications services, tools, and next generation digital platforms. group. With activities spanning 104 countries on Publicis Groupe’s specialized agencies and marketing five continents, Publicis Groupe offers local and services offer healthcare communications with Publicis international clients a complete range of advertising Healthcare Communications Group (PHCG, the first services through three global advertising networks, network in healthcare communications), sustainability Leo Burnett, Publicis, Saatchi & Saatchi, and numerous communications and multicultural communications. agencies including Fallon, 49%-owned Bartle Bogle With MSLGROUP, one of the world’s top five PR and Hegarty, and Kaplan Thaler Group. VivaKi combines Events networks, expertise ranges from corporate digital and media expertise, allowing to connect with and financial communications to public relations and consumers in a holistic way, with Starcom MediaVest public affairs, branding, social media marketing and Group and ZenithOptimedia worldwide media events. www.publicisgroupe.com2
  • 3. CONTENTS TABLE OF CONTENTS Page 1. Executive summary 4 2. Challenges before Brand IPL 5 a. Costs 5 b. Controversies 6 c. Falling television rating points 7 d. Too expensive for advertisers? 7 e. Too much cricket? 8 3. Opportunities 10 a. A short memory 10 b. The advertising benefit 10 c. Sports sponsorships work 11 d. Integrated communications approach 12 4. Meanwhile, others are following suit 133
  • 4. Executive summary a commercial phenomenon. For brand analysts, the economics were a revelation. But, by Season 2, the controversies were mushrooming. The ratings dropped sooner than expected. Citing data collated by rating agency aMap, the Economic Times said Season 2 opened to 16.3% lower ratings compared to the inaugural one. aMap CEO Amit Verma told the newspaper: “Even though a larger number of viewers watched the first two matches, the curiosity did not sustain as much as last year.” More serious trouble was in store. The Enforcement Directorate began investigating allegations of ill-gotten money flowing into the tournament from tax havens abroad, and questioned the IPL top brass about it. In 2010, a bigger controversy followed. Lalit Modi, the IPL commissioner whose brainchild the tournament was, was sacked for money laundering and favouritism while awarding contracts, among other charges. Scams, corruption and conflicting interests soon became synonymous with IPL. The brand took a beating. In 2011, the IPL’s worth was pegged at $3.67 billion, down from a peak of $4.13 billion a year ago, reported the Economic Times, citing a study by Brand Finance, a UK firm specialising in brand valuations. There was one more controversy. Sahara, which has sponsored the Indian cricket team for several years and is the owner of IPL’s Pune team, ended its association with the sport after differences with the BCCI. While In 2008, the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) Sahara relented after talks with the BCCI, IPL’s problems launched the Indian Premier League (IPL) – a high- had firmly overshadowed the cricket. octane, theatrical extravaganza. The launch was partly a response to the Indian Cricket League, a Twenty20- format private tournament launched by the Zee Group Analysts feel that advertisers will now ask without the BCCI’s blessings, and partly an attempt to reinforce India’s dominance in world cricket. themselves tough questions. The IPL, a mega success from the word go, was an Maruti Suzuki India chief general manager (marketing) inflection point in cricketing history. As India sat glued Shashank Srivastava told PTI: “There is too much of to the lusty hitting, quick-fire games and glamour, the cricket and viewership is falling. With the Indian team cricketing firmament understood that the game had not doing well, there is viewer fatigue. Moreover, the IPL changed forever. Commercialisation and a marriage with is an expensive proposition; advertisers will realise that entertainment would now be inseparable from the once- their return on investment is not as high as expected.” serene game. Zenith Optimedia managing partner Navin Khemka confirmed to PTI: “Advertiser interest is lukewarm Based loosely on the English Premier League and the compared to earlier seasons when ad inventory would National Basketball Association (NBA), the IPL lured get sold out six months in advance.” advertisers, broadcasters, brands and even film stars, who bought teams or turned franchise ambassadors. There’s no denying that Brand IPL is on choppy waters. It will have to steer clear of fresh controversies, reflect Brand IPL had hit the jackpot. on mistakes and rectify the damage as much as it can. Most importantly, it needs to win back the confidence of Many cricketers, who would have otherwise remained stakeholders. As Season 5 unfolds from April 4, 2012, unheard of, became stars overnight, lapping up the the BCCI will need a stronger game plan to rejuvenate media glare and the big bucks. Even detractors, the brand. who believed that the T20 format would destroy the game, had to acknowledge that the tournament was4
  • 5. Challenges before the brand of money flowing in from questionable sources. “The IPL juggernaut has hit a speed-breaker,” M Unni Krishnan, India MD of Brand Finance, told the Economic Times. “Its sustainability will depend on governance policies...” Costs Runaway costs are the most visible of IPL’s problems. Team costs – players’ salaries and auction bids – hit 40%-45% of revenues in 2010. In 2009, team costs were 30%-33% of revenues. The cost pressure is only expected to rise, further affecting the IPL valuation. In the first auction in 2008, there was a cap of $5 million per franchisee on player bids. Today, it is $9 million. Hence, franchisees have more money to spend on the stars. Yuvraj Singh, for instance, was ‘bought’ for $1.1 million in 2008, but cost Sahara’s Pune franchise $1.8 million in the 2011 auction. The player costs are comparable to the highest in the world. In the NBA – an older, more established league – the average annual salary is $2.62 million. In the IPL, it is just under $2.5 million. The NBA leads sports properties across the world in wages, with the IPL coming in second. Photo by Royal Challengers Banglore on facebook By April 2011, as the BCCI scrambled to oust Modi and deal with allegations of money-laundering, favouritism and betting, it was clear that the IPL honeymoon was over. A year later, the pressure on the brand is just as intense. This will be on the minds of sponsors and advertisers. Last year, several multinationals signed on as associates. While German car maker Volkswagen came aboard as a partner, Pepsi inked a five-year $12.5 million deal to be the league’s official beverage. Coca-Cola is a major advertiser. While all of them signed on because of the IPL’s reach, popularity and the consumer loyalty that such a vehicle can deliver, any damage to Brand IPL would affect the way their marketing messages impact their consumers. While few of them have openly voiced their concerns, Photo by IPL on facebook they will certainly watch viewer response and return on investments closely. Keeping the wage bill in check and managing revenues The latest Brand Finance study showed an 11%, or $460 will mean the difference between survival and falling million, drop in the value of the IPL last year. The study by the wayside. Amrit Mathur, CEO of Delhi Daredevils, pegged it at $3.67 billion – down from $4.13 billion in told the Economic Times: “We’ll have to redo our 2010, when its value doubled from the previous year. financial structure by looking at ways to cut other costs and beefing up our revenue generation options to The problems before the brand are myriad – from accommodate rising player costs.” question marks over ownership patterns to allegations5
  • 6. The silver lining is that aggregate brand value of India sponsorship as well as the IPL was a major blow franchisees rose from $333 million in 2010 to $355 too. million in 2011. The IPL’s value is calculated on the basis Brand experts believe that advertisers will start of the franchisees’. So, unless sponsors and advertisers questioning whether the sky-high IPL rates are worth it flee in large numbers, Brand IPL should stabilise at and whether a ‘tainted’ brand should be associated with. some stage. Some advertisers said that they might begin looking BCCI president N Srinivasan doesn’t seem unduly for alternatives if viewership drops and returns on worried. He is on record that fluctuating valuations – investment fall short of expectations. based at least partly on perception rather than reality Melroy D’Souza, COO of the Sunil Gavaskar-promoted – don’t matter. “It’s not a manufactured product and we sports marketing firm Professional Management Group, are not a company chasing EBITDA,” he reportedly said. said controversies impact a brand’s global appeal. $3.67 billion “Many advertisers associated with the IPL because of its international appeal. Controversies such as these can IPL’s value, according to a Brand Finance study. The have a serious impact on that [interest],” he said. value dropped 11%, or $460 million, from $4.13 billion in 2010 “Suddenly, from being a much-hyped brand, IPL has become a brand about which advertisers, team owners $355 million and broadcasters need to ask tough questions,” Future Brands managing director and CEO Santosh Desai told Aggregate brand value of franchisees in 2011, up from PTI. He warned that the 2012 season was critical – if it $333 million in 2010 does not do well, IPL could be in for big trouble. $2.5 million Desai blamed IPL’s ‘engineering’, apart from India’s poor Average player salary. It is second only to the NBA’s – performance in recent times. $2.62 million – among sports properties Maruti’s Srivastava said that advertisers will realise that IPL is not worth it. “Advertisers will shift to other genres, such as general entertainment or news,” he felt. Controversies Srivastava said that though controversies often help No brand, however strong, can take corruption charges raise viewership, the Sahara standoff would not produce lightly. Be it the storm over Modi’s sacking or the that result. “The Modi controversy did not lead to higher termination of the Kochi franchise, Brand IPL has faced ratings,” he pointed out. setback after setback. Sahara’s pullout from the Team Photo by Lalit Modi IPLFanclub on facebook6
  • 7. Sure enough, Zenith Optimedia’s Khemka said NUMBER OF VIEWERS ( In millions) advertiser interest is “lukewarm” this year, and PTI said other media planners echoed this sentiment. 200 However, Khemka did not believe that the Sahara row would affect the brand in the long term. “There are too 150 many takers for IPL...,” he said. 100 Falling TRPs 160 142 In 2011, Multi-Screen Media (MSM), IPL’s broadcaster, 122 quoted $30,000 per 10-second ad spot for the last four 50 102 matches. However, media buyers said privately that it settled for $11,000 per spot, the same rate as that of group matches. 0 2008 2009 2010 2011 While MSM denied the reports, claiming that it would earn $180 million from IPL 4 (2011), what is indisputable TV RATINGS is that viewership fell. Television rating points (TRPs) 5 issued by TAM Sports, a unit of TAM Media Research, 4.8 for the first 59 matches in IPL 4 showed that ratings hit 4.6 4 4.2 a new low of 3.84 against IPL 3’s 6.36, IPL 2’s 4.66 and the inaugural season’s 5.39 at the same stage. 3 3.5 A senior media buying official, who requested anonymity, told the media that “lack of advertiser 2 interest due to a dip in viewership” meant that the spots did not command a premium in 2011, unlike previous 1 seasons where rates had shot up by 150%-200%. He added that, with ad inventory left over, MSM was forced 0 to discount rates. 2008 2009 2010 2011 MSM denied that viewership was falling. Gupta said Source: TAM Sports, a division of TAM Media Research that 142 million people watched IPL in 2010 and that the number had crossed 146.5 million by the time the tournament entered the semi-final phase. Too expensive for advertisers? MSM, which broadcasts the IPL on its channel SET Max, has hiked ad rates by 10% for the 2012 season. This means that advertisers must pay more than $10,000 for a 10-second spot. Last year, after India won the World Cup, MSM hiked rates by 25%, but the viewership was the lowest ever. With India’s whitewash in England and in Australia – the team lost eight consecutive Test matches abroad – IPL 5 might pose a challenge. While MSM has roped in Pepsi, Vodafone, Tata Photon and Idea as sponsors, some advertisers are worried about low returns on investment. LG Electronics India and Godrej, which were sponsors from the inaugural season, have pulled out this year, reported MxMIndia, a media website. LG Electronics India’s chief marketing officer LK Gupta told MxMIndia: “While IPL is the single largest property on TV... there is only a certain level to commit marketing Photo by TheChennaiSuperkings on facebook funds and the return we get in terms of TRPs does not7
  • 8. justify the high level of spending...” In England and Australia, India lost eight consecutive Tests. This seems to have turned off viewers. And this is Maruti Suzuki, which spends about 23% of its marketing what makes the 2012 season of IPL critical. budget on sports every year, has always kept away from IPL. “In terms of viewership, [IPL] gives you good returns The Twenty20 extravaganza is what makes the BCCI for five to six weeks, which is ideal for launches or new coffers overflow, which in turn allows it to call the shots products,” said Srivastava, explaining that the return on on the international stage. If viewer fatigue takes a toll money spent is not much for a brand like Maruti. on ratings, advertising revenue will fall. As MxMIndia pointed out, with presenting rights set at One effect of viewer fatigue was obvious last year. The $13 million and associate sponsorship at $9 million, duration of the tournament was increased in order to MSM is under pressure to cut ad rates. Nitin Jain, co- make more money, but it backfired when the league founder of DoMor Communications, said MSM would matches found fewer takers. eventually have to come down to last year’s price – Too much cricket may be why Nimbus, which inked a $9,000 to $9,500 per 10-second spot. broadcast deal in 2009 with BCCI for $431 million for all international matches in India, couldn’t pay the $6.4 million per match. BCCI DEALS IN TROUBLE The BCCI’s greed hasn’t helped. After the IPL, it $431 million launched the Champions League T20, claiming that it wanted to take the format across the world. Soon, Broadcasting deal with Nimbus for India matches that most viewers couldn’t tell one match from the other. was cancelled Hardly surprising then that Bharti Airtel pulled out as $800,000 What Sahara was paying per match as Team India sponsor. It backed out after differences with the BCCI, but returned after talks $330 million What Rendezvous paid for the Kochi franchise. The contract was terminated in 2011 $5.6 million Reduced sponsorship fee for 2012 IPL season to be paid by official mobile partner, Karbonn Mobiles. This fee is down from $7.2 million in 2011 $4.6 million Amount Maxx Moblink, an IPL partner, wants written off because it can’t pay up. It is currently fighting a legal battle with the BCCI over this Source: Media reports Too much cricket? Since IPL 4 in 2011, cricket has flooded the airwaves with India playing virtually non-stop. And it’s been faring badly. IPL 4 was followed by a disastrous tour of England, and the West Indies tour last year was cold-shouldered by viewers. While India got the better of England on the return tour, it was quickly followed by a nightmarish series in Australia. Photo by Royal Challengers Banglore on facebook8
  • 9. the official sponsor of the Champions League after League T20 for 10 years. It may be worth less than a year, complaining that sponsorship rights, at $13 half million, were too high. For IPL 5 this year, many advertisers have $370 million demanded a minimum viewership guarantee. What Sahara paid for the Pune Warriors team. It “There is definitely a concern about cricket ratings, admitted that it overpaid by 30% whether it is ODIs, Test matches or T20,” Ajit Varghese, MD at media buying agencies Maxis and $6.4 million Motivator, was quoted as saying. National TV rights per match, to be paid by broadcaster $1 billion Source: Media reports What ESPN Star Sports paid for Champions9
  • 10. Opportunities it. Brand-Finance projected that if the eight original franchisees grow at an average of 23%, their collective revenues would be $6 billion by 2018, and the profits would hit $160 million. It is this that would help the IPL ride out every trough. Profitable enterprises have not only the resources, but the momentum to survive every crisis. The advertising benefit Walk into a stadium during an IPL match or watch it on TV, and you’ll see ads everywhere. Every conceivable property – from billboards to the stumps – has been monetised. Call it overkill or innovation, advertisers know that IPL delivers eyeballs. No wonder then that at least 84 brands advertised aggressively on IPL 3. The number would have only grown since then. Also, brand experts point out, the audience is virtually captive – when Indians watch cricket, they rarely surf channels. From launches to building brand awareness, the IPL has been the vehicle of choice for advertisers over the last four years. Everybody’s found value in it, be it little-known phone manufacturers such as Micromax or established telecom service providers like Vodafone. Many brands have developed campaigns especially for Photo by IPL on facebook IPL – such as Idea (Ungli Cricket) and Pepsi (The Game). There must be something right with a sports property that, despite a fall in valuation, is worth more than $3.5 billion. By its second year, the IPL was thought to be the fifth largest sports brand, just smaller than FIFA and bigger than Wimbledon and F1. Even after the recent setbacks, the valuation of the US’ National Football League (NFL) – $4.5 billion – is within reach. A short memory Let’s face it; the Indian cricket fan doesn’t dwell too Photo by Royal Challengers Banglore on facebook long on bad times. A series win, or a Sachin Tendulkar century, and the disasters of the past are forgotten. This year, media planners say, the format has defied the slowdown in the advertising industry. “Big and must- That’s exactly what happened last year when, rocked have properties like IPL are never impacted by short- by scandal, the IPL was passing through its worst term slowdowns as these are long-term commitments phase. Even then, real estate giant DLF, which had from advertisers and are integral to brand strategies,” bought the title rights for five years for $40 million, was said Man Jit Singh, CEO chief executive officer, MSM, unfazed. While the controversies may have hurt, said a that has IPL broadcast rights for a decade. spokesperson, the World Cup victory ensured that the sheen didn’t wear off. Rajesh Jain, head of media and That apart, the tournament has delivered women entertainment at KPMG, also felt that the negativity viewers in large numbers to stadia as well as on would wear off for the same reasons. television. “IPL scores on two counts – the three-hour format and The setbacks are balanced by the inherent value – as prime time slot on television of 8 pm-11 pm – both of distinct from the valuation – of the IPL. The BCCI is which are huge draws,” Punitha Arumugam, CEO of expected to make a profit of $260 million by 2018 from Madison Media Group, was quoted as saying.10
  • 11. Sports sponsorships work book Thinking, Fast and Slow, how the brain uses non- conscious shortcuts in everyday decisions. One such A study by marketing professor Kirk Wakefield and shortcut, termed ‘substitution’, explains the positive marketing consultant Anne Rivers assessed the effects of brand sponsorship. When we’re faced with effectiveness of being an official league sponsor, in questions whose answers are not easy, our non- terms of brand enhancement among fans of a sport. conscious brain substitutes easier-to-answer questions Their study was based on the National Football League in their place. (NFL), which has the broadest fan base in the US. The industries they considered— banking, credit cards, beer, Our response to official sponsorships likely involves restaurants, etc—were among the biggest sponsors substitution. When deciding what products to buy—this between 2008 and 2010. involves complicated questions of taste, practicality and value—we often consciously substitute other questions. Their conclusion: Sports sponsorship is worth it. For example, ‘What do my friends prefer?’ Or, ‘What will The study, which polled 16,000 consumers make me look cooler?’ representative of a national audience, showed that fans A powerful advertising-related substitution involves who are emotionally invested in a sport will pay more ‘virtue by association’. When faced with a stranger, for attention to, have greater recall about, and have a more example, we often decide whether to trust him/her positive association with an official sponsor than non- based on who he/she hangs out with or works alongside. fans will. We often evaluate brands in a similar manner. Hence, a There is no sport Indians are more passionate about sport or programme the brand associates with becomes than cricket. It follows that brands that associate with it its evaluation criterion. Since Indians are so passionate will reap the benefits listed above. Brands that stick with about cricket, it follows that an association with it will IPL would also have the advantage of a long-standing evoke a similar attachment. positive association once the negativity surrounding it The deeper the association with a beloved sport, the wears off. stronger the emotion a fan feels for the brand. Nobel laureate Daniel Kahneman discussed in his Photo by zoonabar on flickr11
  • 12. Integrated communications approach • Variations of the Royal Challengers model can be applied to campaigns for a variety of goods and There is an opportunity to go a step further. While services associated with IPL, from fast moving advertising and sports sponsorships work, all too consumer goods to global events. often they are one-way conversations. If you wish to foster strong brand loyalty and maximise return on • Become part of the community of your consumers, investment, consumer engagement is the key. A holistic join the conversation to learn more about their communications approach – which includes advertising, needs. sponsorships, public relations and social media working • Use the tools that consumers are using, be it in sync – will always work better. Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, blogs, podcasting, QR Because of the growing importance of trusted code technology or something else. endorsers, as well as changing media habits – large • A study of social media usage by market research sections of consumers now spend great amounts firm Chadwick Martin Bailey and iModerate Research of time online – social media, such as Facebook Technologies found that consumers who are and Twitter, can play the leading role in engaging Facebook fans and Twitter followers of a brand are consumers. more likely to not only recommend, but also buy The record of teams on this front is spotty. While teams from those brands than they were before becoming such as Kolkata Knight Riders and Royal Challengers fans/followers. This is a great opportunity for social Bangalore have made concerted efforts to engage media marketers. consumers through regularly updated Twitter feeds and • Social media can be a great market research tool. Facebook pages, many teams have fallen short. Carefully tracking what users are saying can help you The Royal Challengers showed how brands can hone marketing messages, which in turn will prompt successfully use social engagement. It ran a talent hunt users to pass on those messages to others. to select three fans for an online reality show in which • It helps if one of the stars on your teams tweets. For they had full access to the players. The objective was to instance Yuvraj Singh – formerly with the Kings XI build a highly engaged community with regular content Punjab team and now with Pune Warriors – is popular created by players, experts and fans. on Twitter, with more than 1.2 million followers. His Consequently, the Royal Challengers community tweets during the IPL are followed keenly. landed more than 500,000 fans across channels. • Focus on increasing two-way engagement, garnering There are a few things advertisers, sponsors and teams consumer participation beyond the monetary level can keep in mind: by creating opportunities for them to spend time with your brand or product. Photo by Delhi Daredevils on facebook12
  • 13. Meanwhile, others are following suit Experts suggest that it was IPL’s popularity that catalysed league models in other sports. The idea is to take the IPL model and customise it in a manner that benefits the sport as well as investors. It’s win-win for everyone involved. The WHS will give 200 national and international players an opportunity to participate in 59 matches. A release by the organisers said: “The champion team stands to win almost 30 times more prize money as compared to the Euro Hockey League, the leading domestic hockey league in Europe.” In all, the organisers will give away $2 million as prize money. Premier League Soccer, modelled on the IPL, signed on World Cup winner Fabio Cannavaro and French international Robert Pires. The six-team league was due to kick off in February, but was postponed to mid-April after organisers struggled to secure stadiums. The player auction on January 30, 2012, saw franchises spend nearly $7 million. They calculated that global football sponsors – from sportswear manufacturers to beverages – would be keen to tap the emerging Indian market. While the league has run into logistical problems, the marketing logic remains unchanged. Kolkata-based Leisure Sport Management, meanwhile, is launching the Indian Wrestling League. Wrestling is Photo by Rohit Markande on flickr one of the few disciplines in which India is expected to win medals at the 2012 London Olympics; a professional When the Indian hockey team took a victory lap after body partnering with the Wrestling Federation of India qualifying for the London Olympics, it was a gesture to and pumping money into a grassroots sport is a step in thank fans just for being there. After all, it’s not often the right direction. that you see a near-capacity crowd at a hockey match. Interest levels are so low that during the 2010 hockey world cup, sponsors Hero Honda used a cricketer – Virender Sehwag – to attract fans! However, now there is an IPL-style hockey league in India and more are planned for other sports. These are early days, but sponsors are looking at options beyond cricket. For some, cricket can never deliver the value that a less popular sport can. Title sponsors of the ongoing World Series Hockey (WSH) are shelling out a mere $400,000 annually for a three-year deal. Compare that to $8 million that DLF pays to be IPL’s title sponsor every year. Vaibhav Sara, GM (sales and marketing), Bridgestone India, told the Economic Times: “Even if our return on investment from WSH is [$2 million] worth of media mileage, we are happy.” Bridgestone has a strong market Photo by priyank aagrawal on flickr in South India and its association with the Mumbai Indians IPL team strengthens that network. The WSH sponsorship, it hopes, will help it break into North India, where hockey is relatively popular.13
  • 14. Actor Sanjay Dutt has partnered with entrepreneur Raj A Tehelka report quotes Jitender Joshi, CEO of Sportz- Kundra, who part owns the Rajasthan Royals IPL team, Consult, a sports consulting company: “There is a huge to launch the Super Fight League in which fighters will opportunity in India to create niche leagues, but the fan square off in mixed martial arts bouts. Kundra told the base for the sport must be identified and the marketing media: “India is virgin territory as far as professional should be focused on that segment. To build affinity, the fighting is concerned. Launching a sport here without a league will have to create stars out of the players, and bat and a ball is like launching a Bollywood film without give the audience someone they can hero worship, a song and dance. But what we offer is ‘sportainment’...” Sachin Tendulkar from the boxing world.” Skeptics warn that the trend may fizzle out. India has The biggest winners are sports fans who can now truly, been loyal to cricket for far too long and grabbing change the game. eyeballs will be a massive challenge. IN A DIFFERENT LEAGUE Tournament Sport Launch Promoter Teams Nimbus Sports, World Series Hockey Hockey 2012 8 Indian Hockey Federation Leisure Sports Management, supported by Indian Wrestling League Wrestling 2013 6 Indian Wrestling Federation Indian Boxing League Boxing 2013 Percept India, Indian Boxing Federation TBA Premier League Soccer Celebrity Management Group, Indian Football Soccer 2012 6 West Bengal Association Indian Basketball League Basketball 2013 IMG, Indian Basketball Federation TBA I-League Soccer 2008 All India Football Federation 14 i1 Super Car Series Car racing 2013 Machdar Motorsports 9 Premier League Soccer Football 2012 Celebrity Management Group 6 Source: Media reports14