Yash Bhatia

We refrain from portraying celebrities as caricatures: Vikrant Mudaliar, CMO, Dream11

  • With IPL 2024’s campaign, Dream11 seeks to broaden its geographical footprint

  • The campaign highlights the shift from collective solidarity during the previous  cricket seasons to individual team loyalties in this edition

  • Dream11 is avoiding significant spending and allocating budgets on a campaign-to-campaign basis

Over the years, the Indian Premier League (IPL) has evolved into a spectacular celebration for online fantasy platforms, serving as a lucrative way to draw substantial business. The online fantasy platform Dream11 continues to celebrate the cricket festival with big-budget ad films every year. 

In 2021, the online fantasy platform’s IPL campaign  #TeamHaiTohMazzaHai, delighted audiences with 12 captivating films. 

In 2022, it released ‘Ye Main Kar Leta Ho’ showcasing top Indian cricketers. The campaign got popular on Internet for its tagline.

Continuing the momentum into 2023, the platform released a big-budget campaign, ‘3 Idiots Ka Press Conference…Cricket Pe?’, featuring the lead cast of iconic movies ‘3 Idiots’ alongside Indian cricket stars.

Now this year, in 2024 the fantasy sports platform released a campaign with 11 cricket stars, and 10 celebrities in a humorous twist to the concept of sports rivalry between teams to showcase individual team loyalties. 

The star-studded campaign, includes Rohit Sharma, Hardik Pandya, Jasprit Bumrah, and many big names, alongside actors like Suniel Shetty, Preity Zinta, pop icons Daler Mehndi and Baba Sehgal, and influencers Viraj Ghelani and Danish Sait. 

Additionally, veteran cricketers Mohinder Amarnath and Krishnamachari Srikkanth also joined the lineup.  

The brand partnered with Kareena Kapoor Khan and Varun Dhawan to launch Dream Sale. 

The campaign films have been directed by Nitesh Tiwari, and conceptualised by Tilt Brand Solutions, the agency has been associated with the brand for the last five years. 

According to media reports, the ad expenses cost of Dream11 cost Rs 2,963.8 crore in FY '23, a 37% jump compared to Rs 2,158.3 crore in the previous fiscal year. 

For IPL 2024, My11Circle outbid Dream11 to become the official fantasy sports partner, and Dream11 became an official partner of eight teams in this edition of IPL. 

Additionally, Dream11 is also the jersey sponsor of the Team India cricket team. 

In an email interaction with Vikrant Mudaliar, chief marketing officer, Dream11 and Dream Sports. We spoke about the idea behind the IPL campaign, objectives, budget allocation and more.

Edited excerpts: 

What was the idea behind the campaign?

The campaign highlights the shift from collective solidarity during the previous  cricket seasons to individual team loyalties in the edition. 

Team Se Bada Kuch Nahi is our way of celebrating the spirit of healthy  competition and sportsmanship around cricket.

As a brand, our thought was to bring the classic sporting trope rivalry to the forefront. With a lineup including 11 cricketers and 10  celebrities, the campaign not only has some of the biggest names in  Indian cricket but also team owners, actors, musicians and digital influencers to the mix. 

What valuable insights has the brand gleaned from previous year's campaign, and what strategic adjustments or enhancements have been identified for the future?

In last year’s campaign, Sab Khelenge, the approach was to combine cricketers and Bollywood celebrities including Aamir Khan. 

The theme was centred around welcoming new fans, highlighting that cricket is a universal sport and  Dream11 is an enabler for fans to join in the excitement.

The inclusion of non-cricketers in our strategy proved highly effective, allowing us to connect with fresh audiences and increase our user base by 55 million individuals last year.  

This year we have included non-cricketer faces while ensuring they have a custom relevance to the concept.

The ad is as much, if not much, about the endorsers as Dream11 itself. Dream11 is using cricketers, aren’t you afraid of audience fatigue?  

We continuously evaluate our marketing strategies to ensure they remain engaging and relevant. This year’s campaign not only features cricket endorsers but also film and television stars, legends of the sport, musicians, and digital influencers to collectively celebrate the essence of healthy competition and sportsmanship in cricket.

As with the product, our advertising too endeavours to entertain our fans during the LIVE match. Using cricketers and celebrities in our campaigns isn’t new to  Dream11, and neither is the fact they continue to be used in the most organic way possible. We strongly avoid making them into caricatures or characters that are far removed from their public personality. 

With this ad campaign, is the objective to get repeat users or bring new users?  

Our campaigns aim to attract sports fans who might not currently be consuming cricket content, with a focus on enhancing engagement for existing users through multiple channels. 

Our ongoing efforts to appeal to audiences beyond traditional cricket fans result in more inclusive brand narratives,  leveraging the broader popularity of endorsers beyond cricket. Moreover, this strategy expands our geographical footprint, building on the achievements of  2023 and driving growth in 2024. 

Is the ad tailored specifically for a digital audience, considering the potential for dividing the ad into segments to enhance its impact and relevance? 

Yes, while our campaign is crafted with a digital audience in mind, the concept has been carefully developed to ensure it resonates with a diverse audience,  regardless of their digital preferences or consumption habits. 

Do you think distinguishing oneself amidst the crowded landscape of IPL campaigns has become challenging now?  

During the IPL, numerous brands align their products with cricket, as this  marquee event sits at the confluence of sports and entertainment. 

But for us at  Dream11, this is an obvious and seamless fit, as we share a symbiotic relationship — fan engagement and excitement for the sport. The interactive fantasy sports experiences increase viewership by fans who are now active and engaged. Therefore,  breaking the brand clutter is not a concern at the moment.  

Do you foresee the Women’s Premier League (WPL) evolving into a significant business opportunity for fantasy gaming platforms in the future?  

There is no denying that the number of women who consume sports and use sports engagement platforms are on the rise with the inaugural season of Women  Premier League (WPL) receiving over 50 million views in its first week,  accelerating the growth of women's cricket. 

Our platform has also observed an  ~80% year-on-year growth in our female user base. 

Additionally, formats like these provide opportunities for brands to create an inclusive environment and showcase their support for women in sports. 

How is Dream11’s ad expense looking for 2024? 

Given the industry’s current dynamics and new operating environment, we’re adopting a cautiously optimistic approach for 2024. 

We are avoiding significant spending increases and taking a cautious approach where budgets are allocated on a campaign-to-campaign basis.  

Regarding budget allocation, how does the brand plan to balance investments between brand building and performance advertising for its app-driven platform? 

We are closely monitoring user growth and retention metrics, using this data to make informed decisions about future spending on marketing and advertising in upcoming quarters. Both brand marketing and performance advertising will  continue to be focus areas for us.

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