Back in the day, there would be no World Cup if not for Prudential, Reliance, Benson & Hedges and Wills. The business conglomerates found a new identity through cricket. It was not just about the game. The International Cricket Council’s showpiece event, which begins in England on May 30, opens a window of opportunities for the corporates. This year, the ICC peeped out to exchange pleasantries with around 21 global brands as its commercial partners. There could also be a few local sponsors; to be announced closer to the tournament.
While Nissan, Oppo, MRF Tyres, MoneyGram, Emirates and Coca-Cola have been associated with the tournament for long, this time newer companies like GoDaddy and Hublot are also on board, accompanied by liquor brands BIRA 91, Royal Stag and Wolf Blass. Thatchers has also thrown its hat in the ring as wine and other beverage partner.
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Indian brands have always been interested in joining hands with the ICC for the world event. Based on market surveys and research, the companies have discovered that getting associated with a World Cup means maximum benefit — not only in terms of branding, but also in terms of grabbing the eyeballs.
“Cricket is the lifeline of the country and we look at a tournament like the World Cup, where over 700 million people are going to watch it in various structures (as an opportunity). To partner with the ICC is to reach to such a large number of customers in an engaging and very passionate way,” Nikhil Arora, vice-president and managing director of GoDaddy India, tells Sportstar .
In World Cup 2019, GoDaddy wants to connect to the target market. “Cricket brings a lot of value; it is about working hard. The opportunity was great. This was a good formula for us to grow,” Arora says.
But when a corporate organisation joins hands with the ICC, what does it expect from the world body? “It is a typical sponsorship. What we get is the logo visibility every time a game is played. You have your brand logo present at the ground. Then you get a LED perimeter board. It gives you backdrops,” Arora cites the advantages.
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“Outside the stadium, there is fan activation where we run campaigns and give opportunities to the Indian fans to win tickets to the World Cup,” he says.
The company already has Mahendra Singh Dhoni as its brand ambassador and during the tournament GoDaddy plans to come up with engaging cricketing campaigns, both on and off the field. “We will introduce fun games and other interactives to connect to cricket and the brand GoDaddy together,” Arora points out.
In the 2015 edition of the World Cup, Airtel, Maruti Suzuki, Hero, Vodafone, Amul, FedEx, Fevikwik and Raymond were the sponsors, shelling out ₹700 crore. This time, the organisers expect that number to go up.
“For every major event, we have taken an initiative to collaborate with the top corporate groups and create a big pool of commercial ideas. That’s the plan this year as well,” one of the officials said. The fact that the purse has increased is evident from the fact that in the 2003 World Cup, winning team Australia was awarded a prize money of US$2,000,000, whereas runner-up India received $800,000.
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But as of now, the total prize money for the tournament stands at $10,000,000. The winning team is awarded US$4,000,000, whereas the runner-up will receive US$2,000,000. The other two teams that will reach the semifinals will bag US$800,000 each. The winner of each league stage match bags $ 40,000.
With the tournament continuing for a month and a half, the associated companies will expect maximum dividends.
The growth factor
Automobile manufacturer Nissan signed an eight-year sponsorship deal with ICC four years ago and reaped benefits from the World T20 event in 2016.
The agreement runs till 2023 with Nissan as the global sponsor at all international cricket events.
“The ICC World T20 tournament in 2016 became a huge success for us with record viewership. Around 39 million viewers in Nissan TG watched the T20 World Cup live with a more than 450 million reach across social media. During the 2017 ICC Champions Trophy, we saw significant growth in the overall leads received for Nissan’s cars — enquiries were up by 160 percent and retail by 165 percent,” Sriram Padmanabhan, vice-president, marketing, Nissan India, reasons.
“Our association with the ICC has helped us build brand awareness and create a strong connect with our target consumers, a class of new-age urban adventure seekers we call ‘The Firestarters,”’ he adds.
Nissan is headquartered in Japan and cricket helped the company grab a foothold in the West Asian and Asian markets. “Our ICC partnership enables us to engage with customers in markets where cricket is the most popular sport including India, West Asia, Australia and South Africa.
“Sparking a billion emotions, cricket has the highest reach across platforms. Showcasing products in the right manner to customers through platforms such as international cricket has helped us enhance the brand while creating worthy memories that translate into buying,” says Padmanabhan. Nissan Kicks from the SUV family is the latest offering from its garage. It is the official car for the ICC Cricket World Cup 2019. With the World Cup in the front seat, the vehicle went around India to gain traction last year.
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“It brought the ICC Cricket World Cup to India. The tour helped us create an engaging experience which, in turn, led to a high number of enquiries. We received over 1 lakh enquires for the product during the launch phase,” Padmanabhan reveals.
The new designs for the team buses will be out closer to the tournament.
The global connect
MoneyGram has been associated with the ICC as its exclusive financial partner for the last decade and the company is happy with the relationship. “We do business in over 200 countries around the globe. The Indian and the South Asian diaspora is actually located throughout the world. We wanted to make sure that we were tapping into their passion, and one thing that unites is cricket. The ICC was perfectly fit for us because it is global in nature,” Joann Chatfield, chief marketing officer, MoneyGram, says.
“We are venturing into our 10th year with ICC. We are an exclusive financial partner and we have been able to use this platform to reach across the globe (customers). It’s been a great marriage for us…” Chatfield explains.
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She also admits that even in years when there are no World Cups or multi-nation events, the company has been able to make use of the on- and off-field activation. “During matches, we have in-stadium activities. Outside the venues, we do up and around activation. We take advantage of the partnership with ICC even when there are no major tournaments,” she says.