We spend 25-30% of our budget on IPL: Siddharth Banerjee, Vodafone

Vodafone India is all set to tap into the IPL frenzy once again. The only national brand to be consistently associated with IPL since inception, Vodafone’s high decibel campaigns have been a key highlight of each IPL season. Vodafone has over the years successfully engaged with millions of cricket frenzy fans and viewers through multiple initiatives like the Vodafone Fan Army, Augmented Reality, ‘Speed is Good’, ‘Hakke Bakke’, ‘#BeSuper’, etc., across multiple media. 

This year, even as Vodafone and IPL commemorate a decade of partnership, Vodafone customers and IPL viewers can look forward to a never before array of adrenaline boosting initiatives. 

Vodafone SuperFan takes on a larger avatar in IPL 2017 with Vodafone SuperFan Ki Superwish, which seeks to provide experiences that are being introduced for the first time ever in the history of cricket! Vodafone will give an opportunity to its SuperFans to cheer for their favourite team from the front row of the stadium, even if he/she is not actually in the stadium. This has been made possible through Vodafone’s Data Strong Network. 

Enthused by the success of ‘Hakke Bakke’ in IPL 2016, Vodafone brings another foot thumping Super Cheer this time around, which also marks the return of the Zumis. The Zumi Cheer films will enhance the spirit of IPL with the little characters displaying their signature steps. 

Siddharth Banerjee, EVP - Marketing, Vodafone India, commented, “Vodafone and IPL together have offered unique and engaging experiences to cricket followers and sports enthusiasts over the last decade. We at Vodafone are proud and privileged to have been part of this 10 year journey that has changed sports and cricket in India. If you have loved the iconic Vodafone campaigns over previous editions of IPL, this year is going to be bigger, better and even more action-packed. Vodafone SuperFan Ki Super Wish and the chance to cheer from the front row will offer exclusive experiences to the SuperFan for the first time. Vodafone customers and cricket lovers can also look forward to enjoying this IPL season with the Zumi Super Cheers celebrating special cricket moments.” 

In conversation with Adgully, Siddharth Banerjee speaks at length about Vodafone’s 10-year association with IPL, ad spends around IPL,  creating brand visibility through sports and much more. Edited excerpts:  

How would you describe Vodafone’s 10-year association with IPL?
In three words – Consistent, Enriching and Very Valuable. Consistent, because we are the only brand associated with IPL since its inception and also because it’s been 10 years since we have been celebrating with crazy cricket fans. In terms of enriching, we have created some iconic properties over the years on IPL, the first being the Zoozoos and SuperFan, which we are making even bigger this year. Thirdly, rewarding, because we have been able to utilise this property consistently over the years. Using iconic properties, our Return on Investment has grown over the years in terms of share of voice, reach and engagement with our customers and so it has given us some great business results. 

What have been the key points of this association?
If you look at the Vodafone and IPL association over the years, you will see that we have been able to communicate some of our key messages during the tournament season – be it the launch of 3G a couple of years back or the launch of Supernet 4G last year or this year’s Data Strong Campaign – we have been able to highlight our key messages using the platform of IPL. We have been able to charm our users as well as cricket fans through characters like the Zoozoos. We have also been able to use the digital platform for engaging even more deeply with fans and customers and in that process also learn about our digital capabilities. Last year, we had the Twitter emoji activity with the Zoozoos and this year we will be having the Super Cheer with the Zoozoo army. 

What have been your ad spends around IPL over these 10 years?
We typically spend 25 per cent to 30 per cent of our budget on IPL and it is the same this year. 

How has IPL benefitted Brand Vodafone? What kind of brand equity has IPL helped you build?
Vodafone itself is a brand that has been built with a great care, love and customer service over the years. We have had some great products and services and also great communication over the years, be it the pug, the Zoozoos or the human stories that have been deeply appreciated by the customers and this way Vodafone has been built up as a much loved brand across India. A mass sporting platform like IPL has also had a great role to play over the years in terms of being able to share with our customers some of the key message that we have. 

IPL Season 10 is about one key message which is The Data Strong Network, supported by two big fan engagement ideas – SuperFan and Super Cheer. We are keeping it very simple and hopefully these ideas will become big. 

Going forward, what are your plans around IPL post the 10th Season?
We will continue to cater to relevant needs of our customers and offer relevant products and services and at the same time communicate that in the most interesting and delightful ways possible like we have been doing over the years. 

Does investment in sports create the desired brand visibility?
There are very different ways of looking at visibility for your brand and sports is certainly an important part of that mix. We look at all possibilities – be it cricket or the overall sporting platform or be it other aspects of popular culture. 

What other sports are you planning to invest in, in a significant way in the years ahead?
We don’t look at platforms just on the basis of a category, but look at what makes sense from an evolving India perspective and our customers’ perspective. When you take that into count, we already have a mass sporting platform, which is IPL. An emerging sport which for us is very exciting is Badminton, which is why we have associated with the Badminton Premier League. We have also associated with some select sporting events such as the Cyclothon of Bangalore and Sirmur Cup in Rajasthan. Besides that, we are looking at other areas of popular culture as well, such as Bollywood or any new emerging storytelling medium. So, we will continue to do what is relevant to this ever changing India.


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