NEW DELHI: Indian Premier League, the country’s most lucrative sporting event, is missing the usual marketing buzz so far this year, and some advertisers and media firms blame it on demonetisation and the ongoing turmoil within the Indian cricket board.
“BCCI (Board of Control for Cricket in India) is itself in a flux and that has impacted IPLs marketability at least till now,” said Ashish Bhasin, chairman, South Asia at ad agency Dentsu Aegis Network. “Besides, the currency ban has also made companies more cautious on spends,” he said.
This year so far, no major sponsorship or marketing deal has been announced, unlike previous years when big ticket deals for the popular twenty20 tournament would start by early February, said executives of advertising and media buying firms, and companies that invest heavily in cricket.
“So far, the marketing buzz has been very subdued; that is unlike the previous years,” said an official from the beverage industry, which is a significant advertiser during IPL because it coincides with summer season. “We have not yet finalised our plans,” said the person who requested not to be identified. This will be the tenth edition of IPL that takes place during April-May.
A query sent to BCCI chief executive Rahul Johri remained unanswered till the time of going to print on Tuesday. Rohit Gupta, president for ad sales and international business at Sony Pictures Networks, the official broadcaster of IPL, exuded confidence that its IPL revenues will match previous years.
“Three-fourths of the sponsors of last year will be back in season 10. The issues with BCCI are internal and will not impact IPL,” he said in response to ET‘s query. Last season, the short-format league earned close to Rs 2,500 crore in revenues, inclusive of ad sales and sponsorships. Sony Pictures had earned about Rs 1,100 crore from ad sales. Sam Balsara, chairman at Madison World, agreed that the general mood seems to be low.
“We are still recovering from the November-December (demonetisation) onslaught and people are not making big commitments yet. It will take a few months to get back to a healthy growth rate. The BCCI turmoil has also had an effect because what’s happening is serious.”
The Supreme Court had last month removed top brass of BCCI, including president Anurag Thakur and secretary Ajay Shirke for resisting implementation of Lodha panel recommendations to clean up cricket administration in the country. The court then appointed a four-member committee, headed by former CAG Vinod Rai, to oversee the board.
While this and the overall slowdown in consumer spending after the government delegalised 86% of currency in circulation in early November may have impacted marketers’ confidence in the run-up to IPL, many experts feel the momentum would pick up eventually. Meanswear brand Spykar Lifestyle, which spent Rs 20 crore on the IPL last year, said it would invest what was needed to optimise the association. Player auction will take place in Bengaluru next Monday.