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In this series, The Drum gets some of the marquee brands to share their IPL game plan and the marketing innovations they have lined up to make the most of the mega-event, despite the many challenges this year.

The 13th edition of the mega sporting bonanza IPL (Indian Premier League) kicked off earlier this month. The much-delayed event morphed into a broadcast property with the actual game being played in the United Arab Emirates (UAE), instead of the IPL's home-market India, thanks to the impact of Covid-19. The brands associating with the sporting event have had to relook their marketing plans to keep up the engagement levels. This week, Vivek Srivatsa, head-marketing, passenger vehicle business unit, Tata Motors shares the playbook of India's leading auto player and also the official partner of IPL.

The IPL association

The passenger carmaker started its association with IPL as the official partner in 2018 and has been on-board since then. It has focussed on a different car model every year: Tata Nexon in 2018, Harrier in 2019 and this year Altroz. Elaborating on the three-year association,  Vivek Srivatsa says, “The idea was to derive great synergies using the platform of IPL to provide a unique and differentiated experience to our customers.” This year, as the Official Partner, Tata Motors is showcasing the Tata Altroz across all the three IPL venues, in the United Arab Emirates.

Srivatsa believes the previous associations with the IPL, through the Nexon and the Harrier, have been successful in gaining all-round recognition for the brand. The company has also seen a significant jump for the associated brand enquiry and bookings during the IPL association period which normally matches the level of launch phase, he adds.

Game plan

Keeping in mind that this year’s IPL is not an on-ground event from a viewer’s perspective and will primarily be watched on television and other social media platforms, the brand tweaked its marketing strategy to optimize multiple engagement opportunities with the audience and players across mediums. “Our goal is to establish the perception of Tata Motors as being the preferred brand among the audience, on the said media,” shares Srivatsa.  

The tweaked media-plan

The brand has identified TV and digital as its biggest bets this IPL season. While television should help us with a wide reach amongst the audience and the latter (digital) will help us in engaging with the customers by giving them an innovative and immersive experience, says Srivatsa. “We have more screen time for the Altroz on television plus our advertisements are focused on cricket-lovers since we have cricket players featuring in them,” he shares,

New rules of engagement

  • The brand plans to continue customer engagement high via interesting contests as well as mobile innovations. For example, it has developed a mobile game called the ’Altroz Super Striker’, which has been made available to users.  Through this game, winners are being declared every day and there will be an overall league winner announced, based on who can swing their phones (like a super striker with his bat on the field).
  • In addition, the brand has got its showrooms activated, while taking care of all safety measures. Shares Srivatsa, “Across India, Tata Motors showrooms have been decorated in the IPL theme, making our dealerships the perfect place for customers to soak in the IPL ambience.”
  • To keep the buzz going, the brand continues to award the ‘Super Striker Trophy’ to the batsman with the best strike rate in every match. In addition, the ‘striker of the tournament’ will also drive home the Altroz.

Why IPL still makes sense

It is one of the biggest sporting events in the country and that gives brands a highly effective, large-scale platform to amplify its visibility and connect with its consumers, says Srivatsa. Adding to the above, he feels, this year the excitement is a notch higher as the audiences have been eagerly waiting to live sports, hence this association has come at a good time.  

IPL creative book