Branding at its best with ICC World Cup 2011

The World Cup, the centre stage of Cricket has once again returned to the excitement of cricket fans across nations. Hosted by three South Asian Test cricket playing countries: India, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh, the 2011 ICC Cricket World Cup will use one day international format. The matches will begin from 19th February to 2nd April 2011.

In no other country is this game as reverent as it is in India. The event showcases talent from 14 countries and like the Football world cup a huge opportunity for big brands to make big bucks. Marketing initiatives and advertising campaigns have been underway to make this event larger than life.

India has always been an enormous market for consumer products and considering its huge population size, it's not an easy task to reach out to the targeted audience. However with an event like the World Cup, which brings cricket fans together, it becomes an easier and a bigger platform for marketers to have a personal conversation with their consumers. Cricket in India is known as another religion all together. And players like Sachin, Dhoni and Sehwag are worshiped as no small deities. The brands endorse them with their products and the reach they obtain is wider than anyone's expectations because the common man connects and admires these players. Today with about seventy-five per cent of India's population still living in the rural areas, an event like the World Cup in a country like India is a massive vehicle to reach the masses. Also due to higher media consumption from all sectors, the reach will be phenomenal. When Sachin branded a variety of products termed "Sach', it sold like hot pancakes. Cricketers, eternally kept on pedestals have a very strong and penetrating reach to the mass audience. And brands understand this phenomenon very well and leverage on it.

According to industry reports, the on-ground sponsors of ICC World Cup ' Reliance Communications, LG, PepsiCo, Reebok, Hero Honda, Emirates, Yahoo, Castrol and Money Gram have together paid an estimated Rs. 1200 crore for in-stadium advertising. Whereas Sony India, Hero Honda and Vodafone have paid Rs. 55 crore each for the rights of on-air joint presenting sponsors of the world's third largest televised event. Added to this, associate sponsors of the World Cup Nokia, Pepsi, Maruti Suzuki, Philips India and Airtel Digital TV have paid Rs. 35 crore each. Big brands are betting on the embroidered game more than ever. Adgully got into exclusive conversations with some of the sponsors to have a better understanding as to how this event will be a mileage for them.

Vishal Chopra, Business Head, Mobile Communications, LGEIL commenting on the opportunities this event will provide them said, "LG always strives to provide new and innovative solutions to the youth of today. As the biggest sporting event in the world is underway, to add to the world cup fervour, LG unleashes the biggest ever campaign to keep its cricket fans glued to their favourite sport. Association with such high decibel events guarantee high visibility and give the opportunity to scale up our campaigns to a 360 degree angle and build the brand among next set of customers. It is one of the biggest promotions of the year and we expect huge sales of our handsets in the first quarter itself."

Reebok has a multi dimensional association with this event through its partnership with ICC and by providing world class equipment for players, by ensuring training, a good range of product fan gear and by opening up sports pavilion stores.

Ravi Kripalani, COO & automotive director, Castrol India said, "In the future there is going to be an estimated 50 million new car and bike owners that will come into India. We are very excited to be a part of this event. This will give us another opportunity to bond more deeply with our consumers and build a bridge with them."

During the World Cup, brands will bombard the mainstream media with campaigns and promotional activities. Some of the brands will be looking at new launches and exciting new offers during this period to establish a better connect with their consumers.

LG will be launching a variety of handsets during this period.

Sajid Shamim, Executive Director, Sales & Marketing, Reebok India said, "Cricket has become bigger over the years with two religions in India merging: Cricket and Bollywood. As a result overall focus on cricket be it through sponsors, media, fans has gone up tremendously. Earlier cricket did not need any advertising. Today not only does the organizing body promote the tournament heavily but sponsors also ride the band wagon and contribute towards promoting the game."

"This exponentially spirals the excitement, awareness and anticipation ' definitely making the World Cup bigger today than ever. Add to this the fact that the India team is doing extremely well and is a strong contender for this World Cup. This makes the property even more exciting," he further said.

Sony being a main sponsor has many initiatives planned during this event.

Tadato Kimura, General Manager, Marketing, Sony India said, "Cricket is the most popular sport in India and is the best way to connect with the Indian audience. This year, India has got the opportunity to co-host the biggest cricketing event - ICC World Cup 2011 and by associating with it we plan to bank on the excitement and energy that the event is expected to create in the country. Sony will be the "On Air' Broadcast sponsor on ESPN Star Sports for ICC World Cup 2011 and we will carry out extensive marketing promotion to reach out to our target audiences and augment their celebrations this cricketing season. In lieu of the same, we expect tremendous growth is sales of our BRAVIA TVs."

Although it is an overcrowded affair, with many brands attempting to speak to their consumers at the same time on the same platform, brands are looking at innovations in terms of advertising to break the clutter and stand out.

Vishal Chopra, Business Head, Mobile Communications, LGEIL said, "The emphasis is in engagement with fun and entertainment, which will be driven not only through advertising, but also extensive ground activation and use of digital medium as a key building block. Today the spectators are not mere people who are watching the game, they are actively involved and want to express their emotions. LG mobile army gives them an opportunity to express themselves. This is the theme of our advertisements."

He further added, "World Cup sponsorship is not just a sale generation opportunity. It is more of a platform to build the brand. LG always strives to provide new and innovative solutions to the youth of today. Given that mobile phone is the lead innovation category, and the fact that we are not leaders in this category, we have decided to strengthen our brand credentials with mobile. This will have a positive rub-off on the total brand as well as give us better emotional connect with our potential consumers. Through this association, we bring alive the spirit of cricket and provide cricket fans with undisruptive fun."

Backed by a whopping investment of (40 crores), the LG Mobile Army campaign will recruit 2,500 cadets, involve 5 lakh participants, 800 man days of activation and the distribution of 15 lakh units of exclusive cricket merchandise worth (64 crores). As an official mobile sponsor of the ICC World Cup 2011, LG promises to make the cricketing extravaganza an eventful one indeed. Its total cricket spend for 2011 is approximately 100 crores.

According to Shamim, Reebok will be launching a TVC featuring MS Dhoni and Yuvraj Singh. The TVC will showcase the Official Reebok-ICC Trainer for the World Cup ' ZigSonic. The TV campaign will be support through consumer engagement tools like cricket applications, online virals, Facebook integration and traditional marketing mediums like outdoor, print etc. Also recently, Reebok concluded the most exciting event in sporting history. They had 6 players of the Indian cricket team together on one platform taking about their training, sharing the fitness routine with us, their views on the World Cup and much more. The event enabled them to share their key message to a large audience.

Kripalani added, "Anything as popular as cricket is bound to attract people. We have something called Castrol index which is a new way of looking at cricket. We are going to show that live during the matches. We offer technology at its best."

This World Cup promises to be as exciting as any other and the cricket fever is fast spreading across borders. However this year also saw controversies in the form of ambush marketing. A strategy where in advertisers attempt to acquire mileage out of an event without having to pay any sponsorship fee, ambush marketing has got the ICC to impose restrictions on cricketers not to appear for any brands which are rivals of its sponsors seven days before and after the World Cup. How will this blemish the affectivity of the campaigns remains to be seen. Also immediately after the World Cup, the IPL will commence in its full glory. It is yet to be seen from which of these events brands and marketers will gain a higher mileage. With such extensive marketing plans for both, brands are on an upward scale, leveraging all they can from a massive platform such as this. | By Janees Antoo [janees(at)adgully.com]

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