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Q] ITC Foods signed on as the official associate sponsor of IPL 2020. What were some of your key objectives?
The IPL has always been the appropriate platform to help build brand saliency and equity. The 13th season of IPL was expected to be special as it was the most anticipated event in an otherwise grim year and most people across the country looked forward to this annual carnival, more than any other year. As per expectation, BARC reported a 15% surge in viewership compared to last year. There was also a significant increase in women viewership, reducing the gender divide.
There were specific objectives for each of the brand:
• Yippee! and Savlon were experiencing encouraging consumer franchise and presence in IPL was expected to accelerate the momentum.
• Sunfeast Bounce wanted to establish a larger purpose with its ‘Andar Ka Baccha Bahar Lao’ campaign. The campaign focused on celebrating and bringing out the concealed, childlike enthusiasm among adults; that there is a kid in all of us, which we should celebrate and not forget or hide it.
• Sunfeast Dark Fantasy had improvised on its positioning during COVID-19, ‘a lot can happen inside’. Since we were all going to enjoy IPL this year within the confines of our homes and together as a family, it was a great way to contextualise the liquid chocolaty filling inside a Dark Fantasy Chocolfills with the enjoyment of the carnival while being at home.
• Given the pandemic led to a substantial decline in the outdoor and on the go moments in our lives, brands like Bingo! were impacted. We leveraged the platform of IPL to bring back the ‘buzziness’ in the brand and business.

Q] What did the company seek to do differently with this association in 2020?
The content around the brands was crafted keeping IPL in mind. Cricket was at the core of every communication. We wanted to use multi-media vehicles to enhance the impact on consumers. Hence immersive content was created like innovative stickers on WhatsApp were developed for Yippee!, Snapchat and Facebook lenses were used by Yippee! We did the same for Dark Fantasy to ramp up the engagement, and contests were also run on social media.
In addition, ITC worked in collaboration with Star to create branded content with two of the IPL team captains. Kings XI Punjab captain, KL Rahul interacted with children over a video call, where they not only asked him a lot of questions but were also seen singing songs with him. This interaction had smart brand integrations of Yippee! and was extremely well received by the kids. Similarly, fans had the chance to witness a unique interactive session between Delhi Capitals’ skipper Shreyas Iyer and his mother via a Zoom call when she sent him her Mom’s Magic for the tournament.
Bringing to the fore its partnership with Royal Challengers Bangalore, Sunfeast Dark Fantasy was nimble to celebrate Royal Challengers Bangalore’s qualification into the playoffs by launching ‘Sunfeast’s Dark Fantasy ‘Lucky Hai’ campaign. On the other hand, Candyman Fantastik’s ‘Crickets Snacking Partner’ showcased how impactful campaigns can be executed without heavy budget spends during high-octane events like IPL. Candyman Fantastik, launched its three-phased campaign on Hotstar, led by 12 contextual TVCs, amplified through subsequent influencer and extensive sampling activities in target markets. Other interesting interventions were linked to core brand propositions like celebrating maximums scored in the match by Sunfeast Yippee!, or launching of LEP desert range under Dark Fantasy and RCB etc.

Q] Can you elaborate on the overall brand and business benefits?
We conducted an in-depth analysis to gauge the overall impact of our IPL association. It revealed that airing an ad during IPL drove positive outcomes for the brand, which included improved spontaneous awareness, key message delivery and purchase intention. We also realised that the same advertisement when aired during IPL delivered a better response than on a non-IPL programme. Using neuro technology, which is primarily using facial expressions and eye movements, we realised that the attention towards an ad during IPL was at least one and a half times more than the same ad on any other programme. So every rupee that was spent was delivering far more through IPL than outside the platform. For some brands like Dark Fantasy, more than 60% of the social media conversations and brand buzz was driven by the exciting partnership with RCB.

Q] ITC Foods has undertaken two continuations with YiPPee! and Mom’s Magic, in terms of ROI and consumer response. How did these initiatives help the brands?
At the outset, we would like to thank the entire Star Network team who went that extra mile to enable us stitch together one of the best pieces of content for YiPPee! and Mom’s Magic. YiPPee! facilitated an exciting session on between children and KL Rahul and for Mom’s Magic, Shreyas Iyer got on a video call with his mother during the course of IPL. Both the sessions were unique in their own way and had a very distinct engagement. Our in-depth interviews and focus groups revealed that children had a great time with KL Rahul, as his persona was more approachable and more like an elder brother. In case of Shreyas Iyer’s interaction with his mother, the reaction was no different as it was loved by many and for some it came across as an aspirational mother-son relationship. As a result, both the content pieces were not only about sheer engagement but they also delivered the core brand messages clearly.

Q] Post COVID-19, how has consumer buying behaviour been affected and how can brands get attention and remain on top of consumers’ minds?
We believe that certain emerging consumer trends have been accelerated during the pandemic and are expected to remain at elevated levels going forward.
• Consumers now show higher preference for brands that are not only aligned to a larger purpose but also walk the talk.
• A heightened positivity towards adopting healthier and hygienic food and beverage products and brands.
• There is a heightened sense of safety, leading to adopting more trusted branded products, fresher products, hygienic offers, those which have scientifically backed claims and also point of purchase for some have shifted from traditional shops to ecommerce

Q] Tell us a little about your most memorable or favourite IPL related campaigns.
One of the most memorable IPL campaigns that instantly comes to my mind is Vodafone’s Zoozoos that made an entry during IPL season. More recently, I feel brands like Durex, Swiggy, Dunzo and Zomato have all created smart and interesting content pieces.
Talking about purpose-driven campaigns, Royal Challengers Bangalore’s ‘Go Green’ initiative comes to my mind first. Its effective messaging of reduce, recycle and reuse was effectively communicated when the entire team sports green coloured jersey made from recycled plastic for a particular match during the course of their IPL campaign.

Q] In 2020, IPL saw record viewership. Now with IPL planning to return to India this year what are your expectations?
IPL 2020 had an advantage over the previous years since a lot of people were at home and looking forward to watching fresh content on television. This advantage might ebb in the 14th season of IPL. So, retaining the viewership levels of 2020 might be a challenge. Having said that, Star Network has a huge leverage of telecasting IPL matches on its non-sporting channels, and if continued, it may improve the incremental reach of IPL 14. Furthermore, with no free carriage of IPL on any OTT, physical attendance in colleges not being mandatory and work from home continuing to still be an option for a large chunk of people, strong viewership of IPL on TV is expected to continue.

Q] What would be your advice to marketers about how best to use the IPL platform to address their brand and business objectives?
I would like to summarise it in just three points – aim to drive engagement, create relevant and contextual content and spend above threshold to further build brand salience.

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Tags : Simran Sabherwal ITC Shuvadip Banerjee Sunfeast