afaqs! spoke with marketing heads on their excitement and anecdotes attached to the T20 World Cup as well as their thoughts on why the event is a lucrative advertising property.
With the IPL in its last leg, the anticipation and eyeballs are drifting towards the seventh edition of ICC Men's T20 World Cup. The Indian fans have all the hopes pinned on this edition, as it returns after a 5-year long hiatus – the last one being held in 2016. The men in blue under Captain Courageous, Virat Kohli will look forward to avenging their near-title defeats in the last three ICC campaigns (World Test Championship 2019-21, World Cup 2019 and T20 World Cup 2016). Also, Kohli’s decision to step down after the event has fuelled the passion wagon of fans that have extended their full support to skipper and the team (World No. 2 in ICC rankings) set for a strong competition.
The upcoming edition is the first-ever limited-over tournament (after pandemic) that will see top teams like Australia, West Indies, New Zealand, South Africa, England and Pakistan clash for the cup. What also makes it interesting is the T20 format which is a smash-hit amongst fans. World Cup engages more fans than any live cricketing event or genre. The collective reach of the 2019 World Cup was 514 million out of which 244 million were female audiences.
Paisabazaar.com’s CMO, Sai Narayan is finally relieved and ecstatic on the event’s return. One of his earliest memories of the game is the 1992 World Cup in Australia – the first-ever to be played in coloured cloths. “I remember waking up early at about dawn time to watch all the Australia matches. And back then only the India matches were being telecasted on Doordarshan.”
Coming from a family of cricket enthusiasts, his favourite moment is the T20 World Cup 2016 quarter-final that he saw with his father – their last cricket event together. The match was between India and Australia in Mohali, where India won by 6 wickets.
Narayan believes in the potential of the young players. “I’m very excited about the younger players like Surya kumar Yadav, Rahul Chahar, Ishan Kishan. And not just for India but also for teams like West India or Australia whose youthful talents are something to watch out for.”
Kunal Bhardwaj, who in addition to reining the helms as the senior director, marketing at Upstox, is a left-arm medium bowler and right-arm batsman. He said, “Personally, the sport has taught me a lot about working in teams and leadership. It has taught me the importance of hard work, patience, and how keeping your cool amidst chaos can be rewarding, professionally and personally. The sport, though it is spread globally, always acquires a local flavour and brings people together — whether it’s played on the streets or in the T20 format.”
His world cup high moment is on October 24 (India vs Pakistan) which could be analogised as the El Clásico of the cricketing world. While the fixture will be on every fan’s mind, it’s also interesting to see the growing traction for non-India matches owing to the increasing popularity of foreign players that have become household names because of IPL. Also, rivalries such as England v West Indies and Australia v New Zealand have gained sizeable interest amongst Indian viewers through previous ICC tournaments, indicating that the world cup makes for a holistic viewing in the country.
In addition to cricket being a fan-beloved sport, it is also a sport where brands spend big money for the millions of eyeballs.
Abhishek Madhavan, senior vice president, brand marketing and design, MPL says, “The importance of big sporting events, especially Cricket, has been recognised by companies across domains. Today, you will see all kinds of companies operating in various spaces all advertise on important Cricket media properties.”
He believes that the World Cups are some of the largest media properties for brands and with the upcoming WT20 already been delayed, it will be a heavily viewed event as people are eagerly looking forward to watching the Cricket spectacle unfold in the UAE.
“We expect to see companies gain more visibility by advertising during the tournament and hope it increases brand awareness among the masses in India.”Abhishek Madhavan
Cricket as a format is also advertiser-friendly. Especially, since the introduction of the T20 format which offers a highly diverse audience and an unparalleled attention span - due to the shorter duration. No other sport or genre has ad breaks as short as cricking events – over change, fall of wicket, etc. In comparison to other genres like GECs, news and movies, cricket is an instant reach builder and gives digital-first brands like MPL, Policybazaar and Upstox leverage to evaluate its impact in terms of traffic, downloads, etc.
“World Cup is the pinnacle of the cricketing events and brands are built on the back of cricket. For building a brand, you need consistency in your communication and constant recall which cricket delivers. I don’t see any other genre delivering the reach that this sport provides.”Sai Narayan
Bharadwaj agrees to this and shares, “In India, cricket is nothing less than a religion, and one of those opportune periods for marketers to win over their customers. It provides a huge platform for brands to connect and engage with their target audience.”
With the T20 world cup starting Oct 17, the sentiment of the country is of sheer passion and eagerness. Moreover, the festive season is expected to bring-in additional interest from fans as well as brands, making the upcoming edition an alluring event