The big fat cricket event is here and brands are padding up enthusiastically for the ICC Men’s Cricket World Cup 2023 that starts on October 5. As it coincides with the festival season, marketers are expecting it to be a rip-roaring event that will spur discretionary spending and boost consumption.

Sandeep Goyal, Chairman, Rediffusion, says it is a double bonus that the Cup is being hosted in India as it will ensure a stronger reach. He is also delighted with the timing. As he says, “It is kick-starting ahead of Durga Puja and Diwali, so it is great timing both from the advertiser and media perspective. It will open up a host of opportunities for brands to leverage on the tournament through on-ground activations.”

He feels the bulk of the advertising spends will go to Disney Star, the official media rights holder of the World Cup. But at the same time, he points out how many brands, even those not officially associated with the Cup, have locked onto the cricket theme this year with festival campaigns to piggyback on the overpowering sentiment.

Scoring on sponsorships

Brands across segments have inked sponsorship deals with Disney Star for TV and digital platforms.

Coca-Cola India, Hindustan Unilever, PhonePe, Mahindra & Mahindra, Mondelez, IndusInd Bank and Emirates are among the brands that are shelling big bucks as key sponsors.

Some brands have picked up ad-inventory only for TV while others are combining both TV and digital to grab as many eyeballs as they can.

According to sources, after the successful staging of the Asia Cup, Disney Star has been witnessing significantly higher interest from advertisers for both TV and digital for the World Cup this year. For India and knockout matches, the going rate for spot buys on TV is speculated to be at ₹30-31 lakh per ten seconds. Disney Star is offering a variety of ad packages with various outlays, in a bid to widen its advertising base for the WC.

After months of cautious batting and stodgy spending, due to pressures on margins, brands are finally cutting loose and spending. As Shashi Sinha, CEO, IPG Mediabrands, says, “There is strong interest among our clients for the World Cup and some of them have picked up key sponsorship slots across TV and digital. With expectations of a positive consumer sentiment during the festival season, brands are looking forward to the sporting event to engage with consumers.”

Take Coca-Cola India, which stepped outside the crease pretty early with a thundering Thums Up campaign and contest for fans. Says Arnab Roy, Vice-President, Marketing, Coca-Cola India and Southwest Asia, “We believe that the ICC Cricket World Cup is the biggest sporting event for the country. Partnership with the ICC provides us with a great opportunity to bring together our customers, consumers, brands and cricket. Thums Up, the official beverage partner and Limca Sportz, the official sports drink for the ICC Men’s Cricket World Cup 2023, will engage consumers through innovative offline and online experiences.”

Mondelez expects sweet pickings too. Says Nitin Saini, Vice President- Marketing, Mondelez India, “We are delighted to be one of the sponsors on TV with Star and will also be activating two of our brands, Cadbury Dairy Milk and Oreo, around ICC Men’s Cricket World Cup 2023.”

Cadbury’s has got off to a good start with its #SitTogether campaign that celebrates cricket’s extraordinary power to connect hearts and transcend boundaries. “With Oreo,” says Saini, “we will once again introduce an innovative campaign that adds yet another spin to the nuances of cricket watching in India.”

Significantly, many of the campaigns are putting fans at the centre. Royal Stag’s immersive AI-led fan experience campaign — ‘A billion films for a billion fans’ — featuring Rohit Sharma, Jasprit Bumrah and Surya Kumar Yadav is targeted at young cricket fans, many of whom will be watching their first world cup in India as adults.

Plating up

Brands are scheduling meet and greet dinners with cricketing celebs for their clients, organising special screening of matches for their staff and grabbing corporate box seats.

Food and sporting events pair really well. As Karan Taurani, Senior Vice-President, Elara Capital, had pointed out in a report, sectors such as food and beverages, hospitality and alcobev are especially expected to see a consumption boost. Divya Aggarwal, Chief Growth Officer at Impresario Entertainment, said, “This year at Impresario, we’re delving into newer formats to provide engaging experiences for cricket fans, inside SOCIAL. We are launching a special Stad-Yum! Menu. To engage our guests in between the innings, we’re working on a VR cricket game activation across 12 SOCIAL outlets.”

Hotel prices and flight fares have already seen a surge in cities hosting the matches, with hotels in smaller cities already sold out. The country will be seeped in cricketing fervour for nearly 46 days (October 5-November 19) with 48 matches scheduled to be held across ten cities in the country. Clearly, it’s going to be a buzzing season.

(With inputs from Chitra Narayanan)