Following the premature termination of the five-year association with IPL (due to expire in 2017 anyway) by beverage giant PepsiCo, Chinese handset maker Vivo has bagged the title sponsorship of the professional Twenty-20 cricket league for a period of two years.
The brand has reportedly paid Rs 150-200 crore for the title sponsorship for two years. Commenting on the same, Alex Feng, CEO, Vivo Mobile India, says, "When we make business decisions, value instead of price is taken into consideration. This association will bring us what we expect, and we believe that Vivo-IPL is a good deal for us."
Vivo is a Chinese multinational manufacturer of smartphones, headquartered in Dongguan, China. It claims to be the fifth top smartphone brand in China, selling 25 million units in 2014. Currently, it has a presence in India, Malaysia, Indonesia, Thailand, Myanmar, Vietnam and Philippines.
Vivo entered India on December 15, 2014 with the 'Hi-fi and Smart' positioning. It claims to have 8,000 employees and 10,000 retailers in over 300 cities in 22 states across the country. "Our focus right now is to develop the retail network and establish ourselves as a global premium smartphone manufacturer. Vivo is building a solid ground sales and service network across India, along with an assembly unit in Greater Noida which will be operational next month," says Feng regarding the company's future plans in India.
With a Rs 125 crore first phase investment, the unit will employ 2,200 Indian employees with an intent to reach a production capacity of one million units per month.
The IPL association is an essential part of Vivo's global expansion and India localisation strategy. In the two seasons (2016 and 2017) ahead, Vivo and IPL will cooperate in terms of sports events, on-ground activation, media exposure and other marketing campaigns.
"Cricket is religion in India and IPL is the first league of this kind in the country which has changed the meaning of entertainment among sports fans. IPL is the most awaited tournament around the year and this can easily be attributed to the entire packaging which attracts fans across the country, as well as internationally," states Feng.
The brand's proposition and its TG
To target the youth, Vivo mobiles has extended its global 'Hi-fi & Smart' proposition to India as well. While 'Hi-fi' represents the product's high acoustic fidelity and sound quality, the brand also promises a "beautiful design with extreme video display".
"Our products are equipped with Hi-Fi music sound chips and smart features in a customised operating system and we are dedicated to offering the youth the most suitable handsets in all price ranges," adds Feng. Vivo mobiles are available in India in the price range of Rs 6,000 to 30,000.
A look at the brand's communication in India
In fact, the brand has already launched a digital initiative for Diwali, which encourages budding singers and lyricists to come forward and share their work. Titled #NotSoFilmy, the campaign executed by Grey Worldwide, will give the winners a chance to create their album through vivo. "As pioneers of Hi-Fi music smartphones, #NotSoFilmy is an attempt to re-define the Indian music scene which is today dominated by popular Bollywood music," notes Feng.
In December 2014, Vivo Mobile India entered into a strategic partnership with Viacom 18 to facilitate its entry into India. This association gave vivo an opportunity to reach out to its target group through properties like Comedy Nights with Kapil, MTV Roadies and Vh1 Emerge Festival. The association is now over, informs Feng.
Leveraging the T20
While the T20 league has lately been embroiled in various controversies, Ashish Bhasin, chairman and CEO, Dentsu Aegis Network South Asia thinks that this association is a great opportunity for a "relatively lesser known brand like Vivo". "It will help Vivo get noticed nationally and that too, in a very short period of time," he says adding that IPL's performance, however, will depend on how well these controversies are handled by the BCCI.
Bhasin recommends a 360 degrees approach for the brand in order to reach out to customers across multiple touchpoints. "Digital touchpoints will be crucial for the upcoming seasons, as will be the quality of content," he states.
Bhasin also offers a word of caution for the brand. "Such associations work best when executed strategically on a long term basis. I hope it's not just a one-time opportunity for Vivo which it got because the previous sponsor backed out," he points out.