The Indian Premier League and the India Political League: Where are advertisers hedging their bets?

In a panel discussion with Storyboard18's editor Delshad Irani, Rahul Shivshankar, consulting editor, Network18, Ajay Dang, president and head - marketing at UltraTech Cement, Gaurav Ramdev, CMO, Protean eGov Technologies and Mohit Joshi, CEO, Havas Media Network India talk about how advertisers are planning their media strategies, in this mega-eventful year.

By  Aashrey BaligaMar 29, 2024 9:54 AM
The Indian Premier League and the India Political League: Where are advertisers hedging their bets?
From an opportunity standpoint, this is one of those mega-years where you have not one but two opportunities in the form of the IPL and the elections to create an impact property that lingers on.

Election season is here. It’s a power-packed schedule for advertisers, contemplating and executing the best media strategies for brands as well as political clients. India is certainly an interesting country, where cricket is a religion but our hearts beat just as much for it as it does for politics. 

Rahul Shivshankar, consulting editor, Network18 likes to call it the two IPLs. The Indian Premier League and the Indian Political League. The election period in India, for Indians, is the greatest show on earth. “Almost a billion people come out and vote for a government that will determine 1/8th of humanity's destiny for five years. I don’t see this anywhere in the world, on the scale that it manifests itself here. It’s the greatest affirmation of the power of one vote. India today calls itself the ‘Mother of Democracy’,” he said. 

Ajay Dang, president and head - marketing at UltraTech Cement, shared that UltraTech being a brand so rooted in India’s development sees how India is constantly resetting its aspirations. “As marketers, we are obviously hunters for attention. So, we’re harvesting where the attention is and that is on the future of India,” he added. 

From a marketer’s vantage point, it is important to understand the cultural context of India. On these lines, there are five passion points that really matter - cricket, politics, religion, Bollywood and the elections. Thus, from an opportunity standpoint, this is one of those mega-years where you have not one but two opportunities in the form of the IPL and the elections to create an impact property that lingers on. Furthermore, it provides the opportunity to create long-format campaigns rather than the usual short-term impact campaigns. 

For Protean eGov Technologies, CMO Gaurav Ramdev said, “It was a difficult choice for us to make to figure out where to advertise. We are a young brand and want to create a larger impact. We are still evaluating on how we can activate elections, which is a three month time period and do it the right way.” 

When it comes to advertising campaigns in such eventful times, strategy is important but execution plays a much bigger role. The right execution will continue to give back for a very long time. 

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This year is one of those mega-years with the IPL and elections taking place at the same time. It is curious to understand which event advertisers see more potential in, in terms of media vehicles and return on investment.   Mohit Joshi, CEO, Havas Media Network says that it’s a very good situation to be in where you have two properties to ride on. “Every client wants to be on the IPL but they don’t have the kind of budgets that are required to have a good presence there. With elections also happening alongside, the eyeballs will be split. But, there is a very good opportunity in elections for those clients who aren’t able to ride on IPL.”

“I believe it’s the best of both worlds. With the clients that I’ve been evaluating, they’ve either put their money behind the elections or the IPL and some of those who can afford to have put their money behind both. At the end of the day, both converge audience and are both pretty big reach environments,” Joshi added. 

He further stated, “As an advertising agency professional I am happy that I have two opportunities instead of one to bring to my clients in Q1. Secondly, from an ROI perspective, IPL has always delivered despite the high CPTs and rates. But, in the past years, whenever a client has used the IPL for either a launch or sustenance, it has always worked from a brand equity perspective. At the same time, elections will definitely drive viewership and if an advertiser is focusing on it, viewership is guaranteed. Both events are equally good in their own rights.”

Interestingly, in the Indian Political League, the biggest brands are the political parties. And, they are very much in the ad game too. In cricket, while the client always gets their return on investment, one of the biggest advertisers for media entities like news channels too are political parties. And, they too get their ROI. 

From a media strategy POV, news as a medium definitely makes a lot of sense. However, it is also a very volatile medium. You need to have a careful understanding of what your brand communication is. That’s where purpose comes in. Purpose today, is the fifth ‘P’ of marketing. Unless you have purpose, any campaign will not stick. It’s all about adaptability. You need to understand when to dial up a brand’s visibility and when not to. Hence, just how election campaigns are continuously changing, brand campaigns during elections too have to change. As a marketer and advertiser, you need to be on the ball. Purpose at the end of the day is pivotal. 

First Published on Mar 29, 2024 9:08 AM

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