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IPL team sponsorships, on-ground deals soar to fresh heights

In recent years, IPL teams have attracted several new official partner categories, including grooming, drinks, wearables and even a “cheer” partner, with several brands eager to be associated in some way with the cricket extravaganza.

Two top advertising professionals familiar with IPL franchise deals said team sponsorships and on-ground deals could touch ₹800 crore this year. This will be both on account of two new teams and more advertisers cashing in on the popularity of the cricket tournament. “The revenues on partnerships with teams vary. For top teams such as Mumbai Indians and Chennai Super Kings, it could range from ₹120-150 crore and for a team like Punjab, it could be ₹60-70 crore,” said Sandeep Goyal, managing director, Rediffusion.

Nikhil Bardia, head of sponsorship sales and talent at Rise Worldwide, said the company noticed a 20-25% increase in sponsorship revenue across teams this season. “The two new teams have maximized their revenue potential, opening up multiple levels of partnership opportunities available for brands to invest in,” he said.

Rise Worldwide is a sports management and marketing firm that offers consulting services across teams. Its two big sponsorship deals for 2022 include Ather Energy as principal sponsor of Gujarat Titans for two years, visible on the front of the jersey, and a similar deal between Cars24 with Sunrisers Hyderabad.

Bardia said there is a potential of about 150-160 partnership opportunities across the 10 teams, and enquiries from brands wanting to be part of the IPL ecosystem have only increased.

“Beyond the team kit sponsorship, franchises also offer brands the opportunity to become official partners. Brands have strategically used this to associate with multiple franchises,” he added.

Popular wearables brand BoAt, for instance, has inked deals with Royal Challengers Bangalore, Gujarat Titans and Punjab Kings for IPL this year as their official audio and wearable partner. The company also extended its partnership with Kolkata Knight Riders for this season.

Delhi Capitals, meanwhile, announced beer brand Bira 91 as its official Cheer Partner. The five-year partnership will involve a host of activations and curated offerings enabling consumers to celebrate their love for cricket and beer. The team has also signed up Seagram’s Royal Stag for this season. On Friday, Hero Vired, a learning company under the Hero Group, said it was the official edtech partner of Delhi Capitals for a year.

As the official grooming partner of Mumbai Indians, Bombay Shaving Co.’s branding will be visible on player helmets, caps and kits right through the IPL tournament. Deepak Gupta, chief operating officer at Bombay Shaving Co., said, “as the official grooming partner of Mumbai Indians, we have a coveted and privileged partner association.” The brand will appear in the stadium, on TV, on social media, and across all other Mumbai Indians marketing touchpoints in the city, the company said. It will leverage the Mumbai Indians partnership for expansion. “Over the next quarter, we hope to grow our store presence in Maharashtra to 2,000 and achieve close to 15% market share. This will be one of the most aggressive offline retail expansion drives in the FMCG category in recent memory,” Gupta said.

For the second year in a row, pathology lab chain Neuberg Diagnostics is the official diagnostics partner for Rajasthan Royals, Chennai Super Kings, and Punjab Kings for IPL 2022. “Cricket being at the heart of India, we felt there was no better opportunity for us to reach out to our audience—millennials and GenZ Indians,” said a spokesperson for the social investment and gaming platform StockGro, which partnered with Royal Challengers Bangalore. The company will advertise on Hotstar and distribute company merchandise like miniature bats and replica jerseys. The merchandise will be signed by the players, the company said.

Rediffusion’s Goyal said some of the partnership deals by brands are just top-ups for the franchises. “Mostly startups with lots of money end up doing such deals. These do not give them much team branding that helps TV visibility, other than some ground events. But they get bragging rights,” he said.

“It’s a two-month-long carnival. Over the years we have realised that women and men are almost at equal numbers in terms of viewing the tournament. It’s almost a 48:52 ratio of female and male audience. So, because of that, a lot of advertisers are also now looking at cricket as a good advertising medium,” said Jigar Rambhia, national director for sports and entertainment partnerships at Wavemaker, a media agency.

With IPL viewership being an almost 48-52% split between women and men, many non-cricket advertisers are also now looking at cricket as a good advertising medium, Rambhia said. Several new sponsors have come this season, Bardia of Rise Worldwide said. “The brand ecosystem has expanded. First-time sponsors include Cars24, Ather, Slice, Capri Global, 1 finance, Meesho, Bombay Shaving Co., Bolt and Happilo,” he said.

“New-age brands or startups leverage the IPL to drive credibility and awareness and focus on acquiring customers. We have seen brands grow their customer base through IPL partnerships and are focused a lot on digital engagement and activations that offers them a platform to reach out to millions of fans across India,” he added.

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