Brands can no longer ignore Indian women during the country's most popular sporting event

Women at an IPL match between Kings XI Punjab and Kolkata Knight RidersIANS
  • 12 years since its inception, IPL is still a hot favourite for advertisers.
  • According to a report, IPL reaches 77% more women than any prime time Hindi General Entertainment Channel (GEC).
  • Advertisers overall are expected to spend more than ₹2,000 crore during IPL.
It's just a few more days left until the country starts chanting for the Indian Premier League. Advertisements featuring the cricketers with new slogans for each time have already hit television screens across the country.

The enormous popularity of the Indian Premier League – the 20-over cricket match with players from across country teams – is evident in the sold out stands seen at stadiums, high television ratings and recurring prime time slots, with nearly half of the audience being women.

Yet, the majority of Indian commercials aired during IPL continue to target just men, a reflection of the typical gender stereotyping still common among advertisers.

Even a cursory look at the latest numbers on viewership should make Indian brands sit up and evaluate why they need to switch their strategy – and do so urgently.

According to a new report by BARC, IPL reaches to 77% more women than any primetime Hindi General Entertainment Channel (GEC). The report added that IPL reaches out to 262 million women in just 51 days as opposed to a top GEC channel which manages to garner 200 million in a year.

Overall, women today hold a 47% television audience share during IPLs.

It’s been 12 years since IPL launched and it still manages to be a big favourite of advertisers, attracting big spends. An ET report states that for IPL 2019, advertisers are expected to spend more than ₹2000 crore, which is a jump from Star India’s last year’s revenue of ₹1,750 crore from IPL ads.

From shaving companies to fairness creams for men or ads presented as locker room scenes and even indirect advertising for liquor featuring male actors continue to take centre stage during the primetime spots or even as tickers during matches.

While not all top brands that cater to both men and women have stereotyped advertisements during cricket matches to be only for men, the general notion has been to sell a product to men during matches.

Brands that hit a six with advertisements in 2018

According to a report on AdAge India, the brands which made a mark during IPL ads in 2018 were Vivo, Reliance Jio, Colgate, Amul, Coca-Cola, MakeMyTrip, Dream11, Kent, Berger Paints, Asian Paints, Crompton, Blue Star, Voltas, Haier, Luminous, Dollar, Vimal Pan Masala, Ceat Tyres, Pidilite, Vanessa, Sleep Well, Parle Agro, Parle Products, Polycab, Vu TV, AMFI, Dollar, Domino’s, Ford, Elica, Onida, Linkedin, Tata Nexon, among others.

Popular phone manufacturer Vivo Electronics Corp paid ₹2,199 crore for a five-year sponsorship of IPL, a big big jump from Pepsi’s ₹400 crore 5-year deal.

Additionally, IPL has always been a great time to launch new advertising campaigns, and has already seen many success stories in India.

One of the most successful ad campaigns that took off during IPL is Vodafone Zoozoo. The Zoozoos took off from the second season of the IPL and also went on to win awards for successful marketing strategy. Even startups like Swiggy witnessed a growth of 25% thanks to their advertising during the IPL matches.

An ET report states that for IPL 2019, advertisers are expected to spend more than ₹2000 crore, which is a jump from Star India’s last year’s revenue of ₹1,750 crore from IPL ads. Meanwhile, Coca Cola has already taken a lead in the advertisement race during IPL with a committed ₹135 crore deal with Star India.

So for brands who are making more efforts to be gender neutral, or take on sexist messaging in their approach, IPL venues could be a great starting point.

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