For the uninitiated, the popular IPL or Indian Premier League is a cricket match comprising 20 overs with 8 teams. It is conducted between April and May every year in India. The beauty of IPL is not a cricket match between countries as is what the cricketing world is used to, but here, the players are from all over the world, and each represents a different state of India. So, for e.g., a cricket player from England can be playing for Bangalore, Karnataka, India.

This is one of the most attended sports events globally, and it garners media attention, advertisement, endorsements, and TRP ratings; this annual event is looked forward to in India very much. With its inception in 2008, with every passing year, it gains more steam and has had its fair share of controversies and complications.

Lalit Modi, former Vice President of the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) is said to be the brain behind this venture, and he has conceptualized the format, franchisee model, auction, prize money to name a few. It is said to have been modeled on the Premier League of England and the National Basketball Association of the United States.

So, what makes the IPL so powerful, so successful? What is the IPL Marketing strategy that is so compelling? Apart from the fact that India is ruled by cricket and cinema, the IPL Marketing think tank has devised a set of marketing strategies to transform IPL into one of the most sought-after and money-spinning sports events in the world.

1. Timing and Target Audience:

Despite cricket being an outdoor sport, the IPL has been timed to be conducted in April and May during the peak summer in India. Why?

Because children aged between 5 and 12 are the biggest audience bracket for cricket, and they are available only during the summer months, just after the exams.

And this assures a huge and assured following and attendance for every game. Another aspect is that every match is conducted between 4 and 8 pm, which is convenient for most of the target audience.

Marketing Lesson:

Cater to your target audience in easy and effective ways.

2. Players and Influencer Marketing:

Player endorsements of various products and brands have touched an all-time high during IPL. Television pushes out advertising content with players championing a wide spectrum of services, products, and brands.

In 2020, the brands that sponsored or associated with IPL were Dream11, Unacademy, CRED, TATA Altroz, PayTm, CEAT, Samsung, Myntra, Cadbury Dairy Milk, and Boat, and the list seems to be only growing with every passing year. And the mix of cinema celebrities with IPL has notched up the attention many levels more.

Marketing Lesson:

Invest in influencer marketing judiciously to reach the masses.

3. Big Brands and Collaboration:

The corporate connection with IPL has been firmly established with each new year. ViVo is the title sponsor for IPL 2021, with Dream11, Phonepe, Byju’s, and Just Dial as co-presenting sponsors.

This, along with other sponsors for the game’s multiple aspects, catapults IPL to a sports extravaganza garnering gargantuan public attention. It is no longer a game but has come to be a movement of sorts and an experience to look forward to and cherish for the rest of the year.

Marketing Lesson:

Collaboration can be a game changer in marketing campaigns, without working solo.  

4. Digital Promotion and Engagement:

Another appropriate Marketing strategy that has significantly made IPL bigger and better is digital and content marketing.

From behind-the-scenes videos of players, contests, quizzes, live sessions, appealing creatives, blogs, trending hashtags it has hooked the digital surfer fairly and squarely. This has allowed top-of-the-mind recall for IPL and what with the young target audience lapping up real-time pictures and moments from the game real-time.

Marketing Lesson:

Digital promotion is the new age marketing that affords multiple possibilities.

5. Fan Association and Viral Effect

Another dimension in the IPL Marketing strategy is closely observing and highlighting fans and their quirks. Going the extra mile in supporting them and organizing special transport arrangements for them to witness the cricket matches in other states is a masterstroke.

For example, the Whistle Podu Express, organized by Chennai Super Kings, took the marketing to the next level and warmed the hearts of the true-blue CSK fans. And this had a cascading effect with fans sharing photos and videos on social platforms in real-time and thus endowing a viral effect to the fan moments.

Marketing Lesson:

Invest in people, they will spread the word for you.

IPL Marketing Strategy in summary:

Needless to say, the IPL has, over the decade, come to be a mega-sports affair that has taken India by storm. It has also brought forth a brave, new India with a conglomeration of brands, celebrities, innovation, advertising, and branding.

So much so, the world is looking towards India to see how it hosts the event and hogs the limelight. It affords a multitude of possibilities for digital and non-digital marketing techniques; it provides employment to hundreds of people and importantly it pushes many young talents into the mainstream.

Since its launch, it has grown despite a few setbacks in between, but it has bounced back and is resilient, and continues to amaze us with magic and momentum. Wishing you all a joyful IPL 2021, here’s the upcoming schedule.


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Bhuvana Rajaram has 27 years of Corporate Communications and Business Writing experience spanning Cognizant and TAFE. She is a lifestyle blogger and creates interesting videos on English idioms and expressions. Owns a Content and Communications boutique outfit - Beautiful Times.

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