Multi Screen Media, the official broadcaster of the Indian Premier League, is poised to make about Rs 1,000 crore from on-air sponsors and spot advertising this year, according to this report. Additionally the eight teams in the T20 league are estimated to mop up close to Rs 300 crore from kit deals.
There are three aspects to a brand’s association with cricket: (a) signing on cricket stars as brand ambassadors (b) advertising during cricket telecasts and (c) sponsoring some element of the cricket telecast. When it comes to the question brand ambassador, marketers evaluate their options from several angles: the brand ambassador’s popularity, fit with the brand values, cost and so on. Marketers evaluate both movie stars and cricket stars as brand ambassadors and the question of which is a better option usually arises.
In my view, signing up a cricket star has its pros and cons with the cons perhaps outweighing the pros. The reason: a national sentiment is associated with the cricket star and if he fails to perform, the negative associations get rubbed off on to the brand. Imagine seeing an ad where a cricket star performs a heroic effort or mouths some profound stuff, immediately following his failure in an India-Pak cricket match. The sentiment will definitely be against the cricketer and the brand associated with that ad. Immediately, derisive comments will follow most likely about such cricketers being money minded, great ‘performers’ in advertising alone etc.
Signing up movie stars has its negatives too but being associated with national sentiments is not one of them. If an ad campaign featuring a movie star comes close on the heels of a flop he or she delivered, the effect is not as devastating as a cricketer ‘letting a nation down’.
I feel IPL offers the benefits of cricket – catering to a cricket crazy nation, the viewership etc., without the risks of being associated with national sentiment. Everyone sees IPL as mere ‘entertainment’ and hence viewers are likely to shrug off the poor performance of a teams and not let negative sentiments rub off on the brand they sign on. Aside from the number crunching and ROI calculations, this could also be a reason why brands are flocking to get associated with IPL, its telecast and team sponsorships.