IPL and Super Bowl: observations on advertising

At a reported $ 3.8mn for a 30-seconds of airtime, advertising on the Super Bowl is a huge investment. Add to it the time spent on planning, creating and promoting the spot along with the actual production costs of the film, you have an event that certainly calls for ‘thinking big’. Yet, many marketers feel the investment is worth it given their regular presence.

Over the last couple of years, advertising on the Super Bowl has been defined by (a) the pre-even buzz creation (b) harnessing the power of social media to create a larger-than-life effect and (c) making it a multi-screen event by not just relying on broadcast TV but web & mobile as well.

IPL-Dhoni

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In India, the Indian Premier League is perhaps the closest equivalent when it comes to a well-marketed, big sporting event that is an advertising opportunity. Herewith some observations comparing both:

Window of opportunity: when it comes to the Super Bowl, the actual event lasts just a day. In contrast, we the IPL is about an entire calendar month or more. The final match of the IPL has not yet been marketed like the Super Bowl and hence we are talking about a single day vs an entire month’s schedule. For a marketer, the impact of the ad can be felt over one single evening. Sure, thanks to social media, the impact is ‘engineered’ prior to the event by releasing teasers and ads before the event. In that aspect, the IPL is different. Marketers have to create campaigns that can hold steam for a longer duration.

Specially created vs. existing campaigns: most marketers view the Super Bowl as a special event and create ads meant to run only during that event. Apple’s famous 1984 ad which ran only once during such an event comes to mind. Other marketers like Coca-Cola, Pepsi, FedEx, Budweiser, EDS and many others have adopted a similar approach. Such Super Bowl specials have gone on to become virals later. On the other hand, save for a handful of brands (Axe, Virgin Mobile) most of the advertisers in India have run existing campaigns relying more on TRPs to gain mileage & visibility.

Big bang approach vs. 10-seconds: in India, the high airing cost on IPL has thus far meant that advertisers choose to run 10-second edits of existing campaigns. ‘We can’t afford to run 30-second ads right through the campaign’ was a constant refrain that I too have come across. Also, given the format of ads in-between overs, running a spot anything longer than 30-seconds is not just prohibitive but runs the danger of being cut off mid-way. Advertisers on the Super Bowl have gone for a big impact approach with expensive or lengthy films. Its common to see jaw-dropping visual effects, quirky computer graphics (talking babies, for example) or big production values in the Super Bowl films. And some of the spots are for a mind-boggling 2-minute duration.

Humour vs. direct approach: since the approach to Super Bowl is ‘make or break’, entertainment is a common platform for Super Bowl ads. Humour is the common theme, with the quality ranging from subtle to bizarre. On the IPL, since most of the ads are edits of current thematic communication, no such scope exists.

Any other observations vis-a-vis Super Bowl and the IPL? Do comment in.

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