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The cup runneth overtime

In the US, there’s no bigger advertising occasion than the Super Bowl.

Feb 28, 2007, 01.05 AM IST
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In the US, there’s no bigger advertising occasion than the Super Bowl. The most-watched television programme of the year, the average TVC on this year’s match was viewed by 92.8 million people. Given that cricket in India can inspire almost religious devotion, the upcoming World Cup could be seen as an Indian equivalent.

Last World Cup, more than 25 brands did large campaigns during matches, releasing 64 commercials — and that’s not counting different versions of the same ads, one-off ads or smaller advertisers.

While some in the ad industry say that not many commercials managed to break the clutter, this year seems set for a replay. LG, a World Cup sponsor, will be unveiling its work in the first week of March, but none of the ads are cricket-centric. Sandeep Tiwari, head - marketing, LGEIL, says:

“Cricket is a religion in India, emotions run very high when it comes to the game, so having an ad about cricket maybe a risky proposition.” LG will spend about Rs 50 crore in mass media apart from sponsorship costs and below-the-line activity, and expects an overall increase of 20% - 30% in the consumer electronics and home appliance categories.

Pepsi and Hero Honda are not forthcoming about the money put in, but have big plans. Pepsi will take its Blue Billion campaign forward with plans to make its chants the most dominant noise on the grounds. Says Vipul Prakash, executive VP – Cola, Pepsico India, “We expect the World Cup and the summer season together to provide 100% incremental sales.” Kurkure’s ‘Jupp for the Cup’ commercial is already on air, and Sucheta Govil, marketing director, FritoLay India, says it is aimed at getting every citizen to chant and motivate the team. She says, “Kurkure is a fun, masti-filled snack and it is this enthusiasm that we want to convey through our commercial. For Lay’s we have a different take, we are positioning Lay’s as an ideal snack for getting together during the matches.”

Hero Honda’s marketing head Anil Dua says, “Given the Hero Honda - cricket association, we have developed an overall theme to bring all cricket related activities under one umbrella. It is branded ‘Heroes for Heroes’, communicating that the two heroes, viz.,

Hero Honda and cricket stars exist because the real heroes are millions of our customers.” Hutch doesn’t plan a special TVC, but it did run a World Cup promo a few weeks ago — the Main Toh Chala World Cup contest sent a customer to the Carribean.

Apart from the main sponsors, Videocon, Diageo, Nike, Samsung and many other brands plan World Cup activity. Venugopal Dhoot, chairman, Videocon, says, “Cricket no doubt is big in India, research shows that viewers don’t want to miss out on a single ball and hence pay attention to the commercials as well.” Videocon has a Rs 80-crore ad budget set aside for the entire season. While Sansui ads featuring Rahul Dravid are already on air, Videocon has plans across print, TV and outdoors.

Nike’s much awaited cricket commercial has just been released. Sanjay Gangopadhyay, director, marketing, Nike India, says, “This ad is a tribute to the passion among Indians for the game. The characters are people like you and me who enjoy the game; it is about passion; set in a street of India and is gully cricket with a twist.” Amidst the crowded field comes another innovation by MAX — official broadcaster of World Cup in India — a calendar in which the year begins on March 13. Says T Gangadhar, VP – marketing, MAX, “

The calendar has been shot by Atul Kasbekar; the ‘Come, Play’ campaign represents the laid-back lifestyle of West Indians who enjoy the game irrespective of the team playing.”

One huge difference between the Super Bowl line-up of commercials and the World Cup’s is the presence of alcohol ads — at Super Bowl XLI, the most advertised category this year was beer, and the leading advertiser was Anheuser-Busch with Bud Light, Budweiser and Bud Select.

Within the limits allowed in India, Diageo is one alcohol brand that plans to be present. Says Santosh Kanekar, marketing head, Diageo, “We will be treating World Cup as an activation platform. We are doing consumer contests as well as screening matches across bars and multiplexes.” 80% of Diageo’s budget will be spent on activation and only 20% will be actual media spends.

So do the numbers make sense? Pradeep Iyengar, executive VP - west & south, Carat, thinks one can’t compare the two games. “The pay per view is not optimum. Indian audiences have to still mature as an audience, maybe soccer comes in next in terms of advertising created but cricket still has a long way to go and is slightly overpriced.”

He thinks this time around clients will not get efficient ROI, but maybe in the future with implementation of CAS, it will be possible to measure the game better. The timings of the game are an area of concern as well. Says Premjeet Sodhi, senior VP, Initiative Media, “The latter half will be a problem, but the first half gives enough opportunity for everybody to be seen.”
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