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‘IPL not cost effective for Maruti’

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Shashank Srivastava, CMO – Maruti Suzuki India

Maruti Suzuki one of the biggest automobile players in the country has stayed away from IPL in its initial years. But now the brand is associating itself with the platform though very selectively. In a candid interview with Pitchonnet.com, Shashank Srivastava, CMO, Maruti Suzuki India shares his views about this marketing cocktail named IPL…

IPL as a marketing platform has seen varying interest from marketers over the years. Some of the sponsors who were aggressive on the platform initially are staying away while new brands have come in. What has been your view on the IPL and your experience with it over the years?
Initially we did not participate in IPL at all. IPL has a huge reach and thus it makes more sense for brands which are new, new product launches or for a marketers that have recently entered the market and looking to establish the mother brand. But that’s not the case with us. Because our mother brand Maruti is an established brand, also, we have a huge portfolio of 15 brands and so we advertise all through the year. Thus we cannot go for spiked advertising (huge advertising spend over a short period of 5-6 weeks to get high impact) and so we never chased IPL either official sponsors or in terms of FCTs.

Maruti Suzuki has not advertised on Television for IPL but you are among the key sponsor with Indiatimes.com which showcases live screening of the IPL matches. What’s the strategy behind that?
Digital platform is an important medium for us to engage our consumers and IPL on the digital platform is much reasonable in terms of costs and has strong deliverable. Unlike television on ground sponsorship, the clutter on IPL digital medium is much less while the reach is still very significant. At the same time it is very measurable and more engaging.

We are also engaging consumers through launching a game on IPL on the digital platform. We think gaming is a very effective way of involving consumers. For marketers like us, IPL is more about engaging consumers.

Despite all the clutter, very high rates and declining ratings, IPL still commands marketer’s interest. Why?
IPL as a property has got huge reach and thus it is a very effective platform new entrants, for marketers who are looking for new launches, for brands who are looking at getting in new markets. For instance, for a brand like Micromax which is new in the market or Vodafone which had a new launch, 3G service, it made more sense to be on the previous seasons of IPL. It makes sense for such marketers to be on  IPL as it gives huge reach in a very short span of time and that’s why these marketers are still interested in the property.

However, for established brands with round the year advertising plans it does not make sense because the economics on IPL are not cost effective. Compare this: In IPL 4 the CPRP’s for a 10 second slot on IPL was coming around 500-550 thousand. While we were amongst the main sponsors in World Cup 2011 (we struck the deal well ahead in time) our costs were less than the CPRP’s in IPL 4.

Any big sport is also a great platform for guerrilla marketing. What is your take on guerrilla marketing in IPL?
Yes, guerrilla marketing around sports events has always been there and a lot of times have worked very well for the marketers. Take for instance the F1 tournament in 2011. While Airtel was the official sponsor of the event, Vodafone did some great guerrilla marketing and steal the show. Even on the routes to Greater Noida, Vodafone had some great hoardings.

The IPL, with its communication this year, has once again taken the carnival theme and upped the entertainment quotient in a different way. What is your view on how this proposition will deliver for IPL?
The T20 format of this game is more about entertainment and not just about cricket. And so the audience profile for this format is also quite different than that of long format cricket. That’s why a positioning like this will add to the attraction of the game.

 

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Abhinav Mohapatra

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