The ROI we've got from associating with IPL, Chennai Super Kings and MS Dhoni has been industry-leading: Ravi Chawla, Gulf Oil India
Ravi Chawla, MD & CEO, Gulf Oil LubricantsGulf Oil
Ravi Chawla, MD & CEO, Gulf Oil Lubricants talks to us about the brand's rewarding association with IPL and Dhoni

The ROI we've got from associating with IPL, Chennai Super Kings and MS Dhoni has been industry-leading: Ravi Chawla, Gulf Oil India

Ravi Chawla, MD & CEO, Gulf Oil Lubricants talks to us about the brand's rewarding association with IPL and Dhoni
  • Gulf Oil recently completed 10 years of its association with Chennai Super Kings.
  • Its association with IPL as well as MS Dhoni, has helped the brand grab a bigger market share over the years, today it holds the No. 2 spot in the lubricants industry.
  • We talk to Ravi Chawla, MD & CEO, Gulf Oil Lubricants about what his expectations from this year's IPL is and how the league has helped it grow over the years.
A brand new season of the Indian Premier League (IPL) was kicked off over the weekend and as always, cricket has again been able to make people forget about the bigger troubles outside our doors. Over the years, IPL has become a cricketing tournament that has not just kept audiences glued to their screens, it has also helped brands accelerate their growth by giving them tremendous visibility.

One such brand that has associated with the league, and has been able to grow its presence and popularity over the years is Gulf Oil. While it started its IPL journey by associating with King’s XI Punjab, it moved to partnering with Chennai Super Kings in 2011, a relationship it has kept for the last 10 years. The brand also has MS Dhoni as its face.

Globally, the brand has associated with motorsports, announced a multi-year partnership with McLaren covering Formula 1 and luxury supercars. It also invested on football by getting into a long-term partnership with Manchester United.

However, in India, when they wanted to increase their market share, cricket became the obvious choice, considering it is much more than a sport here.

“We started our IPL journey with KXIP, we did a sponsorship for them for a couple of years and grew our business quite well from 2008. Later, CSK approached us and we joined them in 2010. We chose cricket because the aim was to take a sports platform which is like a religion in India and has a huge mass appeal. Over the years, IPL has not only captivated the youth, it has also become one of the biggest cricket tournaments in the world. It has a following that has only grown year-on-year. Our association with the league has really worked well for us. We have gathered from studies of AC Nielsen that tracked our investments on IPL, CSK and Dhoni that the associations have given us an ROI which we believe has been industry-leading. It has really helped us grow. Around 2007, we were in the sixth or seventh position but since our association, we have now reached the top two position in the lubrication industry,” explained Ravi Chawla, MD & CEO, Gulf Oil Lubricants.

The brand has also come up with various campaigns and has used Dhoni effectively. The brand’s current campaign showcased the long-haired Dhoni having a heart-to-heart with today’s Dhoni. The campaign was well-received and was talked about a lot. Speaking about the campaign, Chalwa said, “We recently upgraded our flagship 2-wheeler engine oil, Gulf Pride 4T. While previously the brand promise was about “Insta pick-up”, and it resonated strongly with bikers across the country, we improved the product to be able to now deliver ‘Consistent Insta Pick-up’ over thousands of kilometres and many years. As brand Gulf, we are already no. 2 when it comes to important consumer mind measures (or brand health measures). With this new launch and campaign, we intend to strengthen that spot further in terms of market share as well.”

“IPL and Dhoni, as a strategy, have worked very well for us. Whenever we come up with any communication, when it involves Dhoni and CSK, the traction gets multiplied. We have seen much higher trial rates from people who liked the product, and are also fans of Dhoni and CSK. So this is an association that will continue for us for the next few years too,” added Chawla.

IPL is a big investment for most brands. For Gulf Oil, which spends between Rs 80-90 crore on advertising annual, IPL takes away a big chunk, nearly 15-20%. Most of its investments however goes on below-the-line activities. Recently, it also came up with an exclusive edition MS Dhoni tribute pack under its Pride engine oil range for a limited 2 months period which also saw a good uptake from its target audience.

However, when it comes to this year's IPL edition, with no spectators allowed at stadiums, is he worried about the ROI? “Last year when IPL happened in September, we knew that it was going to be the soothing balm for the country. Everybody was at home with their families and it provided people with the entertainment that they would look forward to at the end of each day. In terms of numbers, Covid cases are increasing again which is a matter of concern. However, we know that people are eagerly waiting for this season to come too. We have already released our campaign and are hoping to catch a lot of eyeballs this year,” said Chawla.