Marketing

“We've created a little bit of a mother brand”

Updated on: Feb 22, 2012
CT23KKR_IPL_EDEN

CT23KKR_IPL_EDEN

ct23venkymysore.jpg

ct23venkymysore.jpg

An upbeat Venky Mysore, CEO, Kolkata Knight Riders, says Shah Rukh Khan is the icing on the cake.

After unveiling a new logo for the Kolkata Knight Riders IPL team in Mumbai, CEO Venky Mysore went through a series of interviews with the media, ending a little after 9 p.m. And yet, he had energy for more. He promises to raise the bar. Clarifying that media reports of the team turning profitable in previous years was just ‘perception', this March, he notes, KKR's books will tell a profit story. Excerpts:

Marketers are saying they expect a drop in interest in IPL this year …

I think it's a business cycle – and one has to be able to cope with that. If I talk to other businesses, they predict significant doom and gloom. But there are businesses within that environment that are doing great. Those are the ones which know how to cope.

When we look at cricket or the IPL, there's a lot more spoken about it because it's much more visible. I can show you five other categories of businesses which, in the first five years, would have gone through similar ups and downs. Any new product does.

We can't control the environment; we're going to try and control what we can. The team we put together did a fantastic job both on and off the field. That gives us a platform to raise the bar and raise our own expectations.

Second, we have a brand which has gone from strength to strength; we're fortunate to have it. We have a set of sponsors who have stood by us. There are three-year contracts practically for every sponsor barring two that we are looking to close out.

Eventually, each franchisee will have to differentiate themselves in ways in which they can build their business. And also couple it hopefully with good, strong, on-field performance.

KKR has been in the news for being profitable from its early days. How true is that?

That was the perception. The reality was that we made losses in the first three years. When we close our books in March, we expect to become profitable. Our projections would suggest that, unless something crazy happens in the few weeks to go. I am happy because it's very important to know that you have a business model that can be profitable. That's what gives us credibility as a management team in building the brand.

Has the thrust been on cutting corners?

I wouldn't call it cutting corners. Like any other business, we have to keep thinking of creative ways in which to increase revenues – and also be disciplined about expense management. We've attempted to do both.

You also have to be sensible and put your money where your mouth is, and not cut corners in areas that might come back to hurt you.

Keeping the brand alive and monetising it through the year: What has KKR's experience been?

It's a clear challenge. We have tried very hard to build our fan community. Some of the social media activity we have engaged in – on Facebook, YouTube, Twitter… we've built communities, content, and interesting conversation that keeps the show going in different ways.

If there are other interesting opportunities that come by, which will complement what we are doing, and give us a little more leverage in terms of how we can activate for our sponsors, we'll look at them. That's part of the reason for our re-branding.

We've created a little bit of a mother brand. We'll look at things from that platform, use similar colours (context), ideally with the same sponsors who can get involved with other activities as well. Then you have one more thing that you can use as a platform to activate.

How much are the non-sponsorship revenues?

Non-sponsorship revenues are from ticket sales, merchandising and licensing. Ticket revenues have been pretty good – we have the biggest stadium to fill up as well (Eden Gardens), so there's a balance between pricing it appropriately (where you can fill up the stadium) and bringing in the revenues.

The template is about three revenue streams today – central revenues, sponsorships and ticketing revenues. For us, non-sponsorship revenues would be around 20 per cent. Our challenge is to keep finding new streams. Merchandising presents a huge opportunity; so does licensing. We have to keep working on that.

This season, the non-sponsorship revenues should be slightly more than 20 per cent. My expectation is that merchandising and licensing will start kicking in. It'll still be small, but we should be able to start doing something a little more meaningful there.

Will marketing spends be up this season?

Contrary to public perception, we don't go out and buy media, because we don't need to. Yes, the broadcaster does a lot of different things.

We have a brand that we keep working on. Part of how we do that is to ensure that the team is doing well, and be part of associations that can be leveraged. Brands that associate with us that go out and activate themselves – we develop marketing programmes that allow them to do that. For instance, we created a lot of content last year with our sponsors that worked on digital media and electronic media they wanted to use.

Is KKR=SRK?

No doubt about it. Today when you even randomly say KKR, one of the first associations is SRK. We have benefited hugely from that.

But we have also consciously made sure that from a brand activation perspective, except for two brands (Nokia, for which he is brand ambassador and Matrix, for whom he participated in a TVC), we really didn't extend his association with any other brand – because we didn't want to spread him too thin.

The ongoing challenge for us is to create a standalone entity; an organisation that can work on its own steam. Naturally, having him standing behind us solidly is the icing on the cake.

Published on March 12, 2018

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