Benita Chacko

WPL signals change; attracts female-centric brands to advertise on cricket

Mia by Tanishq, Vega Beauty, Himalayan Face Care, Navyasa, Joy Personal Care, Lotus Herbals and World Gold Council have associated with the women's cricketing tournament.

For the last 15 years the Indian Premier League (IPL) has been the most attractive property for brands to associate with. Brands across categories queue up to reach their target audience. With cricket in India being largely watched by men, these brands are generally those that target the male viewers. It is rare to spot a female-centric brand in this milieu. However, the inaugural edition of the Women's Premier League (WPL) is signalling a change.

Many brands that cater to women have associated with the tournament, either through the eight teams or through the broadcaster. From cosmetics to jewellery to even sari brands, we can see them all advertising on the cricket tournament.

Mia by Tanishq, Vega Beauty, Himalaya Face Care have come on board as key sponsors for Royal Challengers Bangalore and Navyasa and Joy Personal Care are key sponsors for Delhi Capitals. Lotus Herbals is Mumbai Indians' Principal Partner. Meanwhile, Viacom18 Sports, the official broadcaster of the tournament, has signed World Gold Council as a sponsor.

Srinivas Rao
Srinivas Rao

Srinivas Rao, chief investment officer, Wavemaker India, says the WPL has provided an opportunity for female-centric brands to enter the cricket space and capitalise on the growing female fanbase for cricket.

While WPL's viewership data is not available yet, Sonia Sharda, vice president- operations (West and South), Dentsu Creative, says it can be safely assumed that the number of women viewers for the WPL would be higher, making it a natural-fit for brands that target women consumers. "As a sporting tournament it has been conceived to cater to the existing cricket audiences and attract newer fans which could be either men or women," she says.

While the World Gold Council has associated with cricket once before in the past (September 2021 IPL), it was to target the male viewers. However, this time the WPL campaign is primarily targeted at younger women (18 to 25 years). 

Arti Saxena
Arti Saxena

Arti Saxena, head of marketing, India, World Gold Council, also goes by the social media following of these cricketers. "WPL is expected to attract a significant female audience, given the large social media following of these personalities. It's reasonable to assume that many women will tune in to watch the players they follow and support," she says.

Nitin Passi
Nitin Passi

Nitin Passi, chairman and managing director, Lotus Herbals, expects WPL's women viewership to be higher than that of the IPL. During the WPL, Lotus Herbals is promoting its sport sunblock, Lotus Herbals Safe Sun Sports Daily-Defence UV Block Sunscreen SPF 50+.

"It’s an attractive property where we get an opportunity to explore a new audience altogether. It also gives us a new platform to showcase revolutionary products. Apart from advertising on mega properties on TV shows, we now have a new avenue to tap into an audience with diverse tastes and an appetite to consume cutting-edge products introduced by the brand," he says.

Over the past few years the viewership for women's cricket has increased. "The increase in IPL viewership among women in recent years proves this," Rao says.

The victories of the Indian Women's team in the last couple of years has also spurred the growth of viewership and interest amongst both men and women.

Saxena adds, "For some time now, there has been a significant focus on women's sports, with data showing an increase in viewership for women's cricket in the past one to two years. These tournaments have also seen a surge in social engagement, indicating a growing interest among audiences. The rise of women's cricket has garnered support from both the sports body and the government. The WPL bidding broke IPL's record for its first season, reflecting the tournament's potential for success."  

Shyamala Ramanan
Shyamala Ramanan

Mia by Tanishq had been associated with Olympics and boxing in the past. It is extending its commitment to women's sports with its partnership with RCB this year. Generally jewellery or sari brands are associated with weddings and festivals and it is rare to see them associated with sports. Shyamala Ramanan, business head, Mia by Tanishq, Titan Company Limited, says there are two reasons why the brand chose to associate with WPL.

"Firstly, we believe that women's sports in India need to be actively promoted. Secondly, the individuality and personality of players like Smriti Mandhana, Ellyse Perry, and Sophie Devine align with the values and vision of our brand. Their strength and diverse backgrounds create a strong synergy that led to our association with them," she says.

For Mia, reaching the male audience also helps in its gifting segment.

Passi also believes that its WPL association will help the brand create strong brand recognition and recall in the minds of consumers. "Tournaments such as the WPL get widespread coverage across the world. By associating with the WPL brands solidifies their personality," he adds.

Moreover, the entry cost for women's cricket is much lower as compared to men's cricket. Industry estimates suggest that it costs barely 15-20% of what it would on men's cricket.

It also makes sense for brands to associate with women's cricket as it gives them an opportunity to take the high ground with regard to equality and representation.

Beyond the tournament, it also gives brands an opportunity to associate with the women players. Many brands have roped in the cricketers as brand ambassadors. "These players have a huge following and therefore they are a natural-fit for women specific brands to associate with," says Saxena.

Sonia Sharda
Sonia Sharda

Sharda suggests that one of the benefits that brands have with WPL is the rise of the new breed of cricketing superstars like Smriti Mandhana and Harmanpreet Kaur who have emerged from different backgrounds. "Each of them have their unique stories of fighting the odds to reach the pinnacle of success. And these are the stories that women oriented brands have been looking for, stories that will resonate with their audiences – the girl next door, a student, a working professional, etc.," she adds.

Some of these campaigns are not just limited to WPL, but go beyond it on other television properties, print, OOH and digital. For example, Himalaya Wellness Company's #NotFair campaign, for its new product, Himalaya Natural Glow Rose Face Wash, collaborated with the Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB) team. The campaign that started on the field extended even into print medium.

Himalaya Wellness Company's #NotFair print campaign
Himalaya Wellness Company's #NotFair print campaign

Rao says WPL has presented brands an opportunity to go beyond regular advertising as both the BCCI and the broadcaster are much more open to allowing brands to do things beyond what they can do on the IPL.

"WPL has achieved it in one year, what IPL took around four-five years to do. Initially brands would advertise only on the tournament. Now, as part of the sponsorship, brands get access to the teams and players as well," he adds.

Have news to share? Write to us