IPL 2020: Brands bet big on creating new digital experiences

This celebrated sporting event of the year will be played sans spectators, glamorous cheerleaders and the usual buzz associated with the game.


2020 is turning out to be the year of many firsts and the Indian Premier League (IPL), the biggest sporting event in the subcontinent,  is no exception. 

This celebrated sporting event of the year will be played sans spectators, glamorous cheerleaders and the usual buzz associated with the game. Despite these limiting factors, the best part is that as brands have still shown the same enthusiasm and are not shying away from loosening the purse strings as far as experiential spends are concerned.

Top brands associated with the league are betting big on experiential. Recently it was reported that official partners like Unacademy and Tata Motors are planning to spend top dollars on experiential marketing

Given the limited ground activations this year, brands are trying to curate digital experiences. While digital activations will be the mainstay of experiential spends, the big question is will it be as immersive as physical activations are known to be.

We reached out to some industry experts with this question and here is what they had to say:

Shaju I. Ignatius, Founder Director, The Ignite Enterprise

IPL is one of the most successful Sporting Leagues in the world. It's probably also the first sporting event to broadcast live on the internet, way back in 2010. 

With the ongoing scenario of the global pandemic and India still at various unlock & lockdown modes, the broadcast and digital audience is expected to skyrocket. A huge global viewership awaits.

It is an ideal situation for many brands to get associated with this iconic property & go all out on providing some unique customer experience for its consumers, along with product details. And not just the Indian subcontinent, but it's a world stage opportunity to showcase for Brands.

Considering the fact that the viewership numbers and the engagement will be huge, it's an ideal chance to create a campaign that would give brands the opportunity to directly interact and build relationships with the consumer & stakeholders. Thus to capture eyeballs, and prospective revenue generation. 

I am sure enough marketing and digital brains are already at it, and in creation mode as we speak. Happy to suggest and value add if any of the Brands would like to engage us. Of course, virtual audience engagement, gaming integration and unique social media marketing would be some of the verticals in the new norm. 

Harish Bijoor, Brand Guru & Founder, Harish Bijoor Consults Inc.

IPL 2020 has a missing link and that is the direct audience connect in the stadium. Brands still do not want to miss out on the opportunity to get associated with the league. Therefore there will be investments in filling the gap. Hence we will be witnessing investments in experiential. Digital has plenty to offer in this space.

ROI of yore is a far cry to get. New metrics will therefore, fall into place. Measuring viewer involvement and passion is one such.

Rasheed Sait, Vice President and Managing Director, George P Johnson Experience Marketing

A stadium filled with cricket lovers cheering and roaring their team's name is what every cricketer lives for! But, historically, most of us have experienced the grand world cup or the nail-biting IPL matches in the comfort of our home, surrounded by friends and family. So enjoying a season of IPL without spectators is unlikely to affect the majority of Indians. 

Unlike the Dalgona coffee fad, IPL is something we look forward to every year. Moreover, with the festival season approaching, I'm hoping IPL will be the sunshine for the gloomy days we have been living in. Brands leveraging experiential opportunity is a great idea for them to form a brand value for customers from Boomers to GenZ, now and beyond.

Dipti Shah, Founder/Head of Event and Alliances, White Salt Entertainment

Let us understand, brands look to score big with any format that gets attention. IPL is a fantastic commercial success with a global television viewership. The tournament is expected to grab record breaking numbers of eyeballs, as this year brings with it a different level of enthusiasm amongst virtual audience. Brands & advertisers would sure want to make the most of the visibility in the lead up to the festive season. 

I would say, IPL 2020 is one of the biggest impact platforms for brands. It is unequivocally India’s blockbuster cricket league and with its presence across multiple platforms and multi-language feeds, it helps in adding recognition to brand story. 

The key to success lies in relevant and relatable content with a smart mix of brand promise. The onus is on brands to strategize, think creatively and come up with content that would stand out, and reach a wide virtual audience base.

Jai Mundra, Founder & Managing Director, Beep Experience Management Pvt Ltd

IPL may be what the Indian marketers need right now to bring the cheer back. While experts estimate a significant drop in advertising spends owing to the lockdown and cash flow, IPL still remains an attractive proposition for brands to leverage on and this time around largely for e-commerce, edtech and online gaming as opposed to traditional brands.

The good thing is that the tournament is being held during the festive season and that may give brands enough opportunities to push their marketing efforts strategically. While on-ground brand activations have been critical to the narrative, this time it will be impacted given the limited options and social distancing and the fact that its being hosted in UAE.

RWA’s will witness a surge in fan-park activations and delivery aggregators will be interestingly used as a medium to reach consumers at their homes. Digital activations and virtual fan meets will evidently see a splurge as the brands will invest most of their marketing budgets there.

ROI will be strategy lead as everyone will want more bang for their buck. All in all, IPL may revive the market back and hopefully create the momentum that we all need.

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