Ubaid Zargar & Akshit Pushkarna

IPL ads: Here a cricketer, there a cricketer; yee ya, yee ya, yoh?

With every second brand onboarding cricketers for their IPL campaigns, experts weigh in on the recall value of this year’s IPL ads. 

In the world of sports advertising, cricket has always been a crowd-puller for Indian brands. The Indian Premier League (IPL) has been dubbed by many as the ‘Super Bowl’ of the country’s sporting calendar. So, every brand with exorbitant ad spend, is traversing through this year’s IPL ad realm.

Most brands have made it a point to onboard cricketers as ambassadors for their campaigns. The topicality of IPL, reach of popular cricketers, and of course, the relevance of these celebrities to the world of cricket, could be the motivators for brands to push their cricket tie-ups. But how much is too much?

Fantasy gaming platforms, including Dream11, WinZO and My11Circle, have spent extravagantly in order to rope in the country’s top cricketers such as MS Dhoni, Rohit Sharma, Hardik Pandya, Saurav Ganguly, among many others. The entire roster of ambassadors for these platforms, is dominated by popular cricketers.

Besides gaming platforms, brands from other categories have also jumped on the bandwagon of cricketer-led ads. Cadbury, American Tourister, Spinny, Rigi, among others, have brought in top cricketers to place themselves within the mix of IPL advertising carnival.

With so many ads featuring cricketers during the IPL, there’s definitely a glooming risk of oversaturation and audience fatigue that could lead to unfavourable ad recall value. So, what will it take for a brand to stand out in such a homogeneous mix of IPL campaigning? 

Here’s what some industry experts have to say.

Edited excerpts:

IPL ads: Here a cricketer, there a cricketer; yee ya, yee ya, yoh?

Krishnarao Buddha, senior category head, Parle Products

The first ten years of IPL saw predominantly traditional advertising from the likes of Parle, Cadbury, Uniliver, Vodafone, idea, among others. The next five years saw the advent of Swiggy, Zomato, Amazon, and other tech platforms in the space of IPL advertising. And for the past few years, new age tech companies, especially edtech, have taken up the mantle. But all through this journey, the common thread in all of these shifts is the evolution of fantasy gaming companies. 

For these gaming platforms, it is visible that the IPL is turning out to be a viable channel for advertising. Given their business model, for fantasy gaming platforms, a lot of their revenue is generated from the tournaments such as IPL, unlike other categories of brands. 

The only way for brands to stand out during the IPL is to ensure that the creative itself is sufficiently distinct. What happens with many brands is that they tend to get carried away and over-awed with the glamour of a cricketing celebrity.

The campaigns are then created upon the shoulders of these celebrities. But the key is to ensure that the cricketer or any other celeb doesn’t undermine the brand. 

With so many cricketers being onboarded by the fantasy gaming platforms, it becomes even more necessary for other categories to not solely rely on the popularity of the celeb, but instead create a much more hardworking creative for the campaign. 

While it varies from brand to brand, in how they effectively present themselves through their ads, the formula is to identify the differentiator for the brand and incorporate that into their creative, along with their choice of celebrity.

IPL ads: Here a cricketer, there a cricketer; yee ya, yee ya, yoh?

Sudhir Das, executive creative director, Dentsu Creative India

Due to the sheer volume of media spends, fantasy gaming ads tend to dominate. So, other spots with the same endorsers, in the absence of anything memorable, will be quickly forgotten. But if a brand uses an endorser smartly and in a different way, there’s no reason it won’t stand out.

While fantasy gaming platforms are a natural fit, cricketers have shown to resonate emotionally across categories. At the same time, viewer fatigue is a real thing – spots have to reward viewers with something beyond the mere presence of their favourite player.

Celebrity endorsers were supposed to be a way for a spot to break through the clutter. But now that every second ad has a celebrity endorser, we’re back to square one. We’re back at differentiating our creative outputs with great ideas and execution. Things like great music or a funny joke, always work.

In this social age, ads that invite some sort of participation, like a challenge or a contest, and take the viewers on a multiplatform experience, tend to do well.

Reruns of old ads, are inevitable. It’s a function of how many advertisers make decisions – is the incremental value that a new creative delivers significantly greater than what a rerun would achieve, given how much is invested in time and money?

IPL ads: Here a cricketer, there a cricketer; yee ya, yee ya, yoh?

Sai Ganesh, former marketing lead, Dunzo

If you look at many recent campaigns, and how they have cleverly used cricketers and Bollywood celebrities in the same ad, it’s been quite effective in capturing the interest of viewers. This was not the case earlier, when brands were working to create a pull so that people could actually search to view these on social media platforms. 

It will become a standard for brands to create content that people want to consume. Innovation in the creation of new ads, has now become the key to breaking through the clutter of ads, especially when it comes to popular content like the IPL.  

The days, when an endorser would detail about the product in an ad, are behind us. Creating shock value by using these endorsers in settings where people won't typically expect them, has become a go-to for brands, when it comes to the creatives for new campaigns. With multiple brands utilising this concept, the bar for driving an impact via an out of the box campaign, has also gone up.

People look forward to unusual crossovers and characters being placed in situations where you don't expect them to be. It has sort of become like a benchmark for brands, when creating new campaigns. 

Today, it has become important to break the content in different formats to create a sense of intrigue about it.

IPL ads: Here a cricketer, there a cricketer; yee ya, yee ya, yoh?

Kushal Sanghvi, head- India and SEA, CitrusAd

This is the 15th IPL season and, with more teams, television/digital rights, etc., it has become more commercial than ever before. In many categories, almost every brand is advertising during the IPL. 

Bagging an IPL association, comes at a high cost. I know of some direct-to-consumer (D2C) brands that ended up spending 80% of their overall marketing budget on the IPL. 

The challenge has been to marry the heavy investments with campaigns that stand out.

Everyone is trying to create a consumer connect. I’m not sure whether the consumers are even aware of all the brands that are associated with a particular team, or even the league. Although there’s an overkill of campaigns, some brands have also identified this as a time to create something unique that stands out. 

Gaming companies have spent the largest amount of advertising money this time around, but they have also been able to design campaigns that stand out and are path-breaking. Dream11's communication, featuring Bollywood superstar Aamir Khan, is one that really stands out. 

Brands need to do something that hasn’t been done/seen before and is out of the ordinary. The point is, it could be short, but turns out to be a great film. Even if it’s just as simple as putting your logos on jerseys, brands need to add a quirky edge to their communication.

Have news to share? Write to us atnewsteam@afaqs.com