Brands plot digital footprint without heavy ad budgets around ICC World Cup

Cricket is not only a religion in India, it is also the most, expensive sports property for advertisers in the country. With the advertising spots for the June 16 India-Pakistan tie selling for as high as Rs 20 lakh for ten seconds, only a select few can afford the platform. Digital however has opened up a whole new route for guerilla advertising and a host of brands such as Zomato, HDFC Ergo, Nilkamal Plastics, Bajaj Allianz Life, Dabur, among others are stepping in with memes, witty puns and photo captions to leverage the huge interest  without busting their ad budgets. 

The India-Pakistan match, which coincided with Father’s Day provided the perfect opportunity. Twitter recorded 2.9 million tweets about the much awaited one-day international (ODI), and all brands had to do was find engaging ways to enter the conversation. Some such as Bajaj Allianz Life married the two big events of the day to come up with a Facebook post about celebrating a father-child ritual of cheering for Team India while watching an India-Pakistan match. 

HDFC Ergo used humour to celebrate India’s unbeaten run against Pakistan in the ICC World Cup. It showed an image of a father and son playing carrom, with the score reading 6-0 father to son. The copy read, fathers don’t tire of playing with their children, no matter how many times the child loses. Its competitor, Acko General Insurance, is an on-air sponsor for the World Cup.

ITC’s Yippee brand of instant noodles

Zomato used witty punch lines and evocative images to drive the online chatter around the India-Pakistan game
Another brand sneaking its way into the games is Zomato. It is running a cashback offer based on the users’ predictions for the day’s match. It tweeted that 54 people had predicted that Pakistan would win, followed by the line “Some people just don’t want to win cashback” in a smaller font. Rival Swiggy is advertising heavily on television and was associated with the Indian Premier League 2019.

Jagdeep Kapoor, founder, Samsika Marketing Consulting says, “While it is good when brands enter current conversations, they have to make sure what they are saying is relevant not only to the event, but also to their own personality. Also they must ensure that the exercise in no way compromises the brand’s credibility.” Brands must also be sure about their reasons for going digital or wanting to be associated with cricket, he adds. 

Sandeep Goyal, founder, Mogae Media says the digital has helped blur the lines between official and unofficial brand partners. While paid advertising will always have its advantages, brands now have a window of opportunity to engage with a big ticket event, without spending big bucks. “We’ve seen it happen with Pepsi and Coke (on TV) in the late 90s. Now the medium has changed. Paid advertising will ensure reach. Moment marketing will be effective only if you have a very good creative,” he says. 

He also believes that digital media offer brands more opportunities to do what a traditional brand such as Amul has perfected over the years, in an offline environment. But despite that, most brands still have a long way to go before they can master the art of topicality as Amul has.


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