Friday, May 21, 2010

IPL Needs Rocket Scientists

Or so it seems. The study suggests IPL administrators have absolutely no connection with their most important stakeholders - The fans. Not that most of us don't know about it. I have come across a lot of people complaining of the advertising overkill during the IPL. While one understands the need to recoup multimillion dollar investments, the companies that make these investments also need to understand that too many ads may result in lack of brand retention among viewers. In some cases the viewer may even negatively associate with the brand. I know I'm never going to buy a Max, Micromax or Karbonn Mobile, not that those brands ever appealed to me in the first place.

Consider this takeaway from the survey:

"While 51% of respondents got the names of the brands that dot the teams' jerseys wrong, more than a quarter (26%) couldn't recall even a single brand"

When the IPL started out in 2008, IMG stressed on a Less is More approach with regard to team sponsors. Unfortunately the men who matter decided to ditch this strategy in the very next season. As a result, each team had five to six sponsor logos on various places on their kit. They even moved the players' names to below their jersey number so that they could charge a higher amount for a better-placed sponsor logo.

TV ads didn't seem to leave any lasting impression either, or atleast not a positive one.

"As for the ads on TV, only a fifth of the respondents (20%) remembered any of the much-maligned mid-over ads, which were introduced this season by re-packaging the time gained from the shortened strategic time-outs.

Other ads fared the same: while 38% remembered the ads traditionally run between overs, the commercials that flashed on the side of the screen during play, like strangers sneaking into a photograph, were retained by just 9% of the group.

The report accompanying the survey is clear on what's wrong. "Instead of ads that seem to irritate viewers as they interfere with the flow of the game and thus create a negative image in the mind of the viewers, ads that continue without disrupting the game like boundary boards should be looked into," it says."

Big surprise. Why would I care about Gambhir and Sehwag fighting over Vidya during a tight runchase? I'd much rather want a view of the whole field to see where the fielders are. It also provides sponsors a subtle advertising opportunity through boundary boards. I don't know what percentage of viewers would notice those ads but atleast they wouldn't be put off by them as much as they are when the live feed cuts to an ad at a crucial juncture of a match.

Granted the global economic crisis had everyone sweating over their investments . It didn't help that the league and the Indian Government couldn't come up with a workable schedule resulting in matches being played in South Africa, thereby increasing costs and reducing sponsorship revenue. But you would expect organisations such as MDAG, United Breweries and GMR to understand that they're in this for the long haul. You would also expect the companies that decided to put their logos on players' kits to understand the need for exclusivity and advertisers to be more aware of what is their best opportunity to reach out to its target audience. Maybe they thought the millions of eyeballs Mr. Modi so passionately talks about were solely focused on their ads and logos and that there was a direct positive correlation between increased viewership and sales.

There is a very popular saying in marketing - Half the marketing budget of a company is wasted, you just don't know which half. Unfortunately, rocket scientists aren't exactly adept at marketing so don't be surprised to find even more clutter during the next IPL season.

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