Debashish Chakraborty
Brands and Sports marketing

PhonePe cashes in big on the IPL 2020 fervour

The co-presenting sponsor of the sporting event witnessed a spike in app matrices and leveraged the broadcast and digital mediums to release campaigns during IPL 2020.

The grasp that the Indian Premier League (IPL) holds over the audience and marketers was proved yet again in the last edition. With a record-breaking viewership of 405 million, the biggest sporting event in India almost had half of the TV viewing audience watching it. On the sponsorship front, the brand count and advertiser count stood at 143 and 81 respectively – about 20% upwards of IPL 2019. With a sold-out ad inventory, IPL was coined as a major event leading the road to recovery for numerous advertisers.

PhonePe, a digital wallet and online payment platform was the co-presenting sponsor of IPL 2020. The brand has been associated with the event for the last 2 editions and has seen massive developments, deriving brand and business benefits from its association.

In conversation with afaqs!, a PhonePe spokesperson said, “Our association with IPL, India’s biggest sporting event in the past has proven to be fruitful, giving us a platform to create visibility and high brand recall for PhonePe. It has also helped us create and increase awareness around digital payments across different user segments in the country.”

In the mobile payments category, there is a massive potential in terms of the audience that has not yet been tapped yet. Hence, the key focus area for brands like PhonePe remains to be noticed, create awareness by associating with mass-pulling leagues like IPL and draw conversions in terms of new user acquisition, retention of existing users, increase in transactions.

As per PhonePe, the brand became the market leader in October 2020 with a record high of 925 million transactions and surpassed previous numbers by a huge margin. There could be multiple factors leading to this development: the openings of the economy i.e unlock in phases, the buzz around the festive season, but one could also take into consideration the brand’s partnership with IPL which was live from September 19 till November 10.

“For us this IPL was a celebration of the spirit of India as businesses and individuals across the country started getting back on their feet. This is in sync with our brand positioning of “Karte Ja. Badthe Ja''. This campaign is a reflection of PhonePe’s role in helping millions of Indians progress through its innovative digital offerings.” said the spokesperson.

As part of the association with IPL, broadcast today has become a key ingredient in a brand’s media mix. Courtesy of the massive reach and shorter ad pods (compared to GECs and News), brands are known to curate campaigns around IPL – communicating the brand’s message and riding the event hype. PhonePe too leveraged this medium and played adverts featuring actors Amir Khan and Alia Bhatt during IPL 2020 broadcast.

On the IPL-centric campaign, the spokesperson tells, “Sport in general, and IPL for India is a massive uplifting force - this year more than others for the masses at large. We believe that a great campaign comes down to the ability to tell a great story. The simplicity with which the key messages were communicated, the engaging storytelling format and the episodic treatment to get the customers engaged are the crucial ingredients in our successful campaign. Both Aamir Khan and Alia Bhatt are perfect as the face of our brand as they are both a powerhouse of talent and appeal to Indians across the country.”

Over the years, there has been a paradigm shift in the type of brands associating with the event. A space once preferred by traditional brands today stands brand-agnostic. There has been a steady increase in young brands like Unacademy, PhonePe, CRED, boAT partnering with the event. While the massive reach and recall are the key drivers for marketers to associate with the event, the gravitas of the event is proved by the year-on-year association of brands returning to it.

India being a cricket-fanatic country, the interest which IPL draws has been unmatched ever since its inception for the fans as well as advertisers. And the increasing count of both with every passing edition not just showcases the loyalty of its fans, but makes it a marketer’s favourite too. For brands like PhonePe, it delivers a platform to reach out to its huge fan base, spread awareness and drive massive ROIs through communicating its brand message to millions. Moreover, the success story of PhonePe gives newer brands, especially in the digital space, a live case study to refer and consider.