Yash Bhatia and Benita Chacko

Are Indian brands set to score big with International team tie-ups for T20 World Cup?

Indian brands like Amul, Nandini, and HCLTech are forging partnerships with International cricket teams. What's the strategy behind this?

With the IPL season getting over, now it is time to see our Indian players prepare to don their blue jerseys for the upcoming ICC Men’s T20 World Cup. This time around, it will also be exciting to see the jerseys of other teams. 

Earlier this month, Indian dairy brand Amul announced that it will sponsor the USA and the South African cricket teams in the upcoming T20 World Cup. Soon after, Karnataka Milk Federation’s (KMF) brand Nandini, extended its sponsorship to Cricket Ireland and Cricket Scotland. Since 2019, India-based IT company HCLTech has been the official digital technology partner of Cricket Australia. 

It is increasingly seen that Indian brands are sponsoring International cricket teams for its cost-benefit, clutter-free brand exposure opportunities and more. 

Shantanu Ghosh, national head of sports at Wavemaker India, says sponsoring non-Indian teams offers significant savings while ensuring comparable visibility.

“The competition for a spot on the Indian team jersey is fierce, driving sponsorship costs high. Meanwhile, the non-Indian teams play an equal number of matches in league stages, guaranteeing consistent brand exposure throughout the tournament,” he says.

Last year in 2023, the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) set a minimum price of Rs 350 crore for lead sponsorship rights of Team India. Dream11 bagged the jersey rights at Rs 358 crore. 

According to Moneycontrol, Karnataka’s Nandini bagged the sponsorship at just Rs 2.5 crore per team. This makes the approximate sponsorship for the Indian team 196% higher than the Scotland and Ireland teams.

Team India is in Group A, alongside Pakistan, Ireland and Canada. So these teams will get good viewership from Indian audiences when they play against the men in blue. 

Nandini expects that this edition of the T20 World Cup will surpass 850 million viewers, presenting them an opportunity to showcase their brand and products globally.

Currently, Nandini has an exclusive store in Dubai and several more across the Middle East. The Karnataka-based brands also export to the USA, Singapore, Vietnam and other countries.

MK Jagadish, managing director, KMF says, “The World Cup serves as a significant brand-building exercise, allowing us to push our brand aggressively.”

In March 2024, Amul also announced that for the first time, it would sell fresh milk in the USA market. 

The ninth edition of the World Cup will be co-hosted by the West Indies and the USA. One of the primary objectives for brands in partnering with international teams is to expand its global presence. With this, the brands are keen to leverage this opportunity for maximum exposure at an international level, specifically targeting the USA market. 

Divya MS, business director of ITW Consulting, a sports consulting firm also believes that the key reason to choose international team sponsorship is to bolster a brand’s global image. 

“The supplemental benefits include viewership across all cricketing nations, especially India, during an event like the World Cup. For a brand aiming to go global, sponsorships like this are an effective strategy. For instance, brands like Amul and Nandini, the top two dairy brands in India, are motivated by the opportunity to operate in the global market and tap into international consumers,” she adds.

The primary objective of Indian brands to associate with international teams is to build their brand awareness and visibility cost-effectively. 

Indian brands collobrations with International teams for the upcoming Men's T20 World Cup
Indian brands collobrations with International teams for the upcoming Men's T20 World Cup

Ghosh also highlights that the potential for misattribution with international teams appears minimal. For example, a brand displayed on a Scottish cricket team’s jersey isn’t automatically assumed to be of Scottish origin.

“This allows Indian brands to tap into the global appeal of sports and reach new audiences without being confined by geographical limitations,” he mentions.

Which brands should pursue international collaborations?

Divya says that many international B2B brands have invested in Indian sports and events like IPL. There’s also a scope for Indian B2B brands to establish a global presence through sponsorships. 

She highlighted an example that Infosys has partnered with ATP (Association of Tennis Professionals) since 2015. The information technology company also acts as a digital partner for both the Australian Open and Roland Garros.

In 2024, Tata Gluco+ also strengthened its global presence by becoming the official energy partner of the Argentina football team.

From the category perspective, Ghosh observes that FMCG brands are adopting this approach. “Looking ahead with cricket gaining popularity in regions like the US, I anticipate more tech brands will seek partnerships within the next decade,” he states.

HCLTech, which has partnered with the Australian team, operates in 60 countries. A spokesperson from the company mentions that the jersey partnership is a natural extension of a long-standing relationship and enables the HCLTech brand to reach audiences across the globe.

In the past, TCS sponsored Formula 1 and marathons, indicating an interest in countries where the games are more popular. As cricket expands to more nations, brands with business interests in those countries may seek to sponsor cricket teams.

One of the primary challenges that Indian brands in partnering with international teams could face is the possibility of a consumer backlash when those teams compete against India, causing concern among the consumers about the brand’s allegiance.

In that case also, brands can look at another way to associate with international cricket teams. Recently, Cricket Australia (CA) has signed a partnership agreement with RISE Worldwide for virtual advertising and sponsorship inventories. 

The tenure of the partnership covers various marquee series like India’s tour of Australia in 2024/2025 and 2025/2026, Ashes in 2025/2026, the annual Big Bash League, and other select international matches.

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