IPL advertising: The good, the bad and the strange

Chitra Narayanan | Updated on November 13, 2020

Mumbai Indians hit it out of the park in IPL 2020, CSK disappointed while Delhi Capitals showed great promise but did not live up to expectations.

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On the advertising pitch it was newbie brand CRED that managed to catch everyone’s eyes even as seasoned brands floundered. While IPL 2020 did not scale great peaks on the advertising front compared to earlier editions, there were certainly many noteworthy ads. Thankfully, the noisy paan masala ads from the 2019 season piped down this edition. But unquestionably, from the advertising perspective, this edition was dominated by young digital players rather than traditional warriors.

Well played

Phone Pe, Swiggy and Dream 11 were universally loved ads. Good scripts executed well made sure the ads were watchable repeatedly. For brand consultant Giraj Sharma, PhonePe won it simply because of its awesome execution and great acting by Aamir Khan and Alia Bhatt. However, Vigyan Verma, Founder, The Bottom Line, had a quibble that the Phone Pe ads were more watchable digitally, where the full versions were available. Edited down for TVC length, they looked a bit crammed.

Both Sharma and Verma also praised the Dream 11 ads which show star cricketers are playing with gully cricketers and are filled with wisecracks. “One execution which particularly made for delightful repeat viewing was the one starring Rohit Sharma’s. Phrases like ‘Opener hoon na’, ‘Jiska bat, uski batting’ and brilliant expressions by Rohit were instrumental in creating penny dropping magical moments,” says Verma.

However, Sharma pointed out that while the Dream 11 ad was entertaining, the connection with the product was missing.

Early on in the league, Khatabook starring MS Dhoni caught the eye too.

Indifferent performers

Vodafone Idea in its brand new avatar as Vi made no impact, with the squeaky Vi having a rather apologetic ring to it. Certainly a sorry debut for the new merged entity, especially sad to note as Vodafone had always sparkled at past IPL editions with its ZooZoos.

A plethora of education and edtech companies dominated the commercial break at IPL 2020, but very few made an impact, despite the presence of celebrity endorsers — who actually looked a misfit.

A surprising entry this IPL was TCS, which managed to catch the eye despite looking very hastily put together. Partly why it caught the eye was this is not a category that normally advertises. As business strategist Gopinath Menon pointed out, “While the ‘part of your story’ line had possibilities, the ad lacked relevance.” Sharma felt that TCS had placed the ad during the IPL simply for the reach, but it looked oddly out of context amidst the cricketing action.

The flamboyant one

If you ask people the most memorable ad of IPL 2020, it would unquestionably be CRED. Though initially utterly confusing, the ads starring Madhuri Dixit, Anil Kapoor, Bappi Lahiri, Udit Narayan and Govinda that poked fun at the use of celebrity endorsers aroused huge curiosity. “As a format, it broke the norms by denigrating former stars and was therefore a clutter breaker, “ says Vigyan Verma. “Where it did not do well was in conveying the proposition of CRED. The other aspect worth noting is that deliberately crude pieces of content don’t make for great repeat viewing,” he says.

Verma says this aspect often gets ignored when teams set out to make clutter-breaking content. “‘Will people like to watch it again and again?’ is a good question to ask. This is especially true for IPL content which thrives on repeated exposure. Anyone remembers the ‘Sehwag ki maa’ ads of another era?”

Published on November 12, 2020

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