With Pepsi pulling out of the IPL sponsorship, a big opportunity to partner with the biggest cricket show on earth has opened up. It isn’t hard to guess who could possibly replace Pepsi. It has to be some e-commerce company because this is their season. I am sure you will remember that the first sponsor of IPL was DLF because it all started at the time of the ‘real estate’ season. Of course, the season changed and the baton was passed on to an all-seasons brand like Pepsi. Now, it’s the turn of e-commerce or the digital industry to fund the spectacle.
The IPL or any event of this scale is a fantastic opportunity for any company to either strengthen its existing and successful brand position or to carve out mindshare for its new brand. Such events can consolidate a nation’s attention for a certain period of time and are excellent platforms for brand promotion. Given a choice, any brand will be willing to associate with it. The big question is, how many can afford to?
We all know that these days no one else can match the spending power of e-commerce companies. With generous private equity funds willing to invest in companies in their search for the next unicorn, there are many e-commerce companies who can write a Rs 100 crore-plus cheque for a season’s sponsorship of IPL. On the other hand, given the sluggishness of the Indian economy, there are not too many other companies eager to spend this kind of money. Even if some have the budgets, chances are that those have been allocated beforehand and it may not be possible for them to garner such enormous amounts at short notice. So it leaves the opportunity for e-commerce companies who have the money as well as the flexibility, and above all an aggressive growth plan.
Nowadays, it’s not that only large companies can or should spend such money on sponsorships. It is about the ambition of the company to build a brand that may become very large in future. Companies like Paytm and Oxigen have the funding available to try to fulfil that ambition, and hence are replacing big companies like Pepsi at the high table of sponsorships. And as long as India’s craze for cricket lasts and the IPL is able to maintain its relevance, companies big or small, brands of vintage or newbies, businesses of the old or new economy will continue to pay to associate with it. Yesterday it was real estate, then telecom, and now e-commerce. Let’s see who’ll be the big daddy in a few years.*
The author is founder of Wazir Advisors, a management consulting firm