Editor’s Pick: Does sponsoring an IPL franchise guarantee visibility?

The Indian Premier League is one of the top T20 leagues around the world.

The biggest domestic tournament in India is considered as one of the best advertising platforms for brands, since its inception in 2008. From an advertising point of view, no other Indian league or cricket league delivers as consistently as the IPL.

The annual IPL rating with the number of unique impressions it attracts each year, speaks for itself. The league recorded 384 million unique impressions for IPL season 10, which then rose by 7% to 412 million for the 11th edition of IPL. For IPL season 12, a further rise of 12% was recorded, leading to 464 million unique impressions.

In a recent statement by a top BCCI official, the current IPL season is expected to have more than 550 million unique impressions.

The upcoming season of IPL is expected to be bigger and way more innovative than its previous seasons. Keeping the Covid-19 global pandemic in mind, IPL organisers have set in place various broadcasting deals to make sure the league has a world-wide reach and generates the desired fan engagement.

Driven by the great potential of visibility this live sporting event offers, big brands have associated themselves with various IPL teams to garner maximum impact from their audience.

In general, each IPL team is associated with 12-15 brands, with top teams being associated with as much as 18-20 brands. Meanwhile, the number of sponsors for team jersey is ten for all teams. This includes front of jersey to back, lead and non-lead arm and leg, lead and non-lead headgear and chest. In short, the number of different brands to sponsor the eight IPL franchises lie between 60 to 70 sponsors.

Sporting a logo on an IPL team jersey may look good for a brand, however, it does not guarantee success.

The success majorly depends on how the brands use their association with a team. The ultimate challenge for all the brands is generating consistent viewership and engagement for 50+ straight days to ensure higher recall and Return on Investment.

Since, the team jerseys are often cluttered with a number of different brand logos, many advertisers get ignored along the way. Until they come up with an innovative and gripping strategy, the logo may not make any impact on the audience.

Oftentimes, even when a brand gets a spot on the team jersey, they don’t get the desired exposure. The reason being the uneven distribution of brands on the playing kits. Past research suggests that, among the brands that sponsor for team’s jersey exposure, the chest and the back of the jersey sponsors have the highest recall percentage (about 30-35%) and generate the highest ROI.

No brand can taste success in this highly competitive Indian market without reaching out to its consumers, irrespective of their presence being online or offline.

In order to maximize on their investments, brands should identify various touch points where they can interact with the audiences and engage with them.

A relevant example for this can be launching a campaign during IPL season or performing some activities in IPL fan parks or generating engagement through content on their social media pages.

For the brands who sponsor only a single team, for example APIS Honey and Rajasthan Royals deal, the need to create relevant and relatable content to drive fan engagement is really high since they will only be visible in 14 or maximum 17 matches out of the 56 schedule ones. This creates a greater risk of getting neglected.

In comparison to this, brands who sponsor multiple teams, for example Jio sponsoring all the eight IPL franchises and Colgate sponsoring six IPL teams, garner way higher recall rate because of its higher visibility.

In 2019 for the second year straight, Jio was recorded as the most recalled brand. The report based on different online surveys conducted across 10 metro cities, showed that Jio, followed by Vivo and Paytm have been the top three brands in IPL with the highest recall rate.

Though sponsoring IPL teams provide brands with exclusive rights, it has been seen that brands who sponsor IPL as a whole have much higher recall rate than the ones sponsoring individual teams.

However, it should also be noted that sponsoring the whole league is way heavier on the pocket than sponsoring a single or a few teams.

Brands which advertise during IPL have a much higher recall rate than those who invest only in sponsoring a team. However, the advertising cost for the same is around 10-12 lakhs/10sec on Tv, which is a lot more expensive than sponsoring a team.

In conclusion, being the most lucrative sports property in India and one of the top advertising platform for brands, an appropriate selection and precise application of well measured marketing strategies can help brands in achieving their advertising goals.


By Aashish Jaju

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