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    IPL becoming game of select advertisers

    With an increase in advertisement money, the IPL has now become a playground for only big companies.

    New Delhi: With IPL broadcaster SET MAX continuing to charge a premium on advertisements, the Twenty20 league is becoming a game of a select big advertisers with others looking for alternate options elsewhere, according to marketers and media buyers. While the likes of Vodafone still swear by the IPL, others like Canon think the tournament is losing mass appeal and that it is time to look elsewhere. Major sponsors DLF and Karbonn are already evaluating options on their future association with the IPL with their contracts coming to an end this season.

    "There is a clear indication that IPL is losing mass appeal and advertisers are reduced. IPL is becoming the game of a select few (big advertisers) and others will have to find alternative ways to reach out to consumers," Canon India Senior vice-president Alok Bharadwaj told PTI, adding that Canon India that plans to spend Rs 30 crore on a new advertising campaign featuring its new brand ambassador Anushka Sharma, will earmark only 10 per cent of it for IPL. "Compared to what we spent last year, we are spending only 20 per cent of that budget on IPL this year... there is no way to predict return on investment in IPL. It is partly gamble and partly gut feel," he said.

    Presenting an opposite view, a Vodafone India spokesperson said: "[The] IPL has been and remains the biggest sports platform to reach out to our target customers. Re-evaluation, if any, of our on-air sponsorship, has been only to get a better bang for our buck on the property keeping in mind its past performance".

    While stressing that the IPL is still the biggest mass-media property in the country and gives the advertisers a very effective platform, the Vodafone India spokesperson, however, said: "As regard to next year, it is too premature for us to get into that discussion. However, please note that our decisions will be based on commercial feasibility".

    As different brands weigh the pros and cons of their association with IPL, owner of SET MAX - MSM India - that has the official broadcast rights for the league, said it still attracts a mix of advertisers. "In terms of advertisers' portfolio, it is a mix of big and small spenders," MSM India president Network Sales Rohit Gupta said, also admitting that there had been a clear hike in ad rate. "We have not offered any discount, but charged a little higher than last year," he said.

    Gupta did not share the rates, but media planners said the broadcaster is charging Rs 5 lakh for a ten second spot. Insisting that there has been good response from advertisers, he said: "We have sold around 80 per cent of the ad inventory and remaining would be sold over a period of next two months, which is usual."

    Bharadwaj of Canon India, however, offered a differing view saying the entry level amount of Rs 20 crore set by SET MAX is too high and is turning away many advertisers. Expressing similar sentiments, Zenith Optimedia managing partner Navin Khemka said: "With small budgets of less than Rs 5 crore it is impossible to be on the IPL over a longer period of time. It is prudent to make your impact over a smaller period and get out. Or else you will be lost in the clutter".

    With the digital platform providing a far more cost effective option, big names like Coca Cola, Maruti Suzuki, Samsung, HUL and TVS are turning their attention on the new medium. Times Internet Ltd that has digital media rights for the IPL has charged Rs 3.5 crore to Rs 5 core from the principal sponsors and Rs 1.5 crore to Rs 3.5 crore from co-sponsors.