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Ahead of season five, IPL teams bank on social media to lure fans

2010 Indian Premier League

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Flagging interest in cricket following India’s elimination from the One-day triangular series in Australia this month is prompting the Indian Premier League (IPL) team owners to leave nothing to chance.

They expect to increase spending on advertising by 10-15% for the new season—which begins on 4 April—compared with the last season, and have also started advertising campaigns by reaching out to fans directly through social media, roadshows and contests involving fans’ participation.

The Mumbai Indians has some of its star players Sachin Tendulkar, Harbhajan Singh and Rohit Sharma reaching out to the team’s 2.5 million fans by doing personalized videos this year. The team is sending fans on the team’s Facebook page 30-second video clips in which each cricketer personally addresses each fan and shares personal information while thanking them for their support. The campaign, called “Players Become Friends”, will be supported by radio and television with the social/digital medium anchoring it.

“The team (Mumbai Indians) has such a fantastic fan base and we wanted to get closer to them and build a one-on-one relationship instead of doing heavy television advertising,” said Piyush Pandey, executive chairman and creative director, South Asia, at Ogilvy and Mather, the agency behind the campaign.

In the third edition of IPL, Mumbai Indians got about Rs.55 crore in sponsorship, and expects that to double this year, according to a person with direct knowledge of the development, who did not want to be identified.

The Delhi Daredevils team is planning something similar to Mumbai Indians, using social media to organize “banter” between fans and cricketers.

Social media is not cheap,” said Hemant Dua, GMR sports head (marketing). “You either spend a lot of money or use it intelligently. We are trying to integrate both,” he said, adding that the team will spend significantly more on advertising this year.

Rajasthan Royals is teaming up with Empire Spices to take its brand to the “interiors of Rajasthan and Maharashtra” because typically, its campaign tends to focus on more urban audiences, according to chief executive Raghu Iyer. He added that the team will push for more interaction between fans and captain Rahul Dravid through social networking as part of its advertising spend, which will be 10-15% higher this season.

Dravid, who announced his retirement from domestic and international cricket on Friday, will play this IPL season.

On average, each IPL team spends between $1 million and $1.5 million on promotions and brand building, said Reddy, who expects revenue from local sponsorships and tie-ups to increase 10-15%.

According to PricewaterhouseCoopers India, the fourth edition of IPL, in 2011, had advertisement revenue of approximately Rs.1,000 crore. But with India’s cricketing fortunes slumping recently, “teams will look at (additionally) consolidating and connecting with their fan base through promotions”, said Timmy Khandari, executive director and leader entertainment and media at PricewaterhouseCoopers India, while explaining that a shift towards social media is natural.

Chennai Super Kings started a campaign earlier this year through social media to invite fans to name the team mascot. This was done mostly through the team’s Facebook page and on radio. “There is no dramatic change in how we approach the medium,” said Rakesh Singh, joint president (marketing), India Cements Ltd, which owns the team. “But it makes a lot of sense to be active on social networks. We are, for instance, the second most followed team on Twitter after Kolkata Knight Riders.”

Deccan Chargers, too, is taking to roadshows as it tries to connect with a broader base of fans across Visakhapatnam, Orissa and Hyderabad. “Our focus will be on creating a direct connect across our three home grounds,” said Venkat Reddy, chief operating officer, Deccan Chargers.

Many team strategists believe advertising on national television is too expensive and lacks the kind of focus that can be achieved through print, outdoor and social media.

But social media spending will supplement other forms of advertising and not replace them, according to analysts. “Social media will be an additional spend over and above the usual promotional activities. It is an engagement medium and can’t be a replacement for other mediums,” said Jehil Thakkar, executive director, media and entertainment, at consulting firm KPMG India Pvt. Ltd.

Source: http://www.livemint.com/2012/03/11211723/Ahead-of-season-five-IPL-team.html?atype=tp

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