Mumbai: The festive season brings a double whammy for advertisers and brands as the Asia Cup and the much-awaited World Cup (Hosts – India) is set to take the country by storm. With a potential reach of 600+ million, the World Cup on television is the place to be for advertisers looking to capture the attention of viewers during the festive season. The interview series "Pitch Perfect" discusses with leading marketers their thoughts about the World Cup and how advertisers can best leverage the mega event on television.
Indiantelevision.com’s Anil Wanvari in a fireside chat with Bimlendra Jha, Navroze Dhondy on the Jindal’s association with Cricket on Live TV.
On associating with cricket
Jha: Well, there are two religions in India, cricket and Bollywood. If you really look at it, somebody had the brilliant insight to combine the two in the form of IPL. IPL has become the greatest sensation because of this unique combination that works so well in India. Getting associated with this large number of viewership where particularly any brand that gets associated with sports, always gets more positive vibes compared to anything else, that is what the research says. Missing action in this one is not a great thing for any brand that wants to really establish itself at the national level.
On associating with cricket for the first time
Jha: It was last year and we started getting associated with many other sports also. We have been supporting sports at tribal level. Wushu, which many people would not have even heard about, we produced international champions out of that from the tribal boys and girls. We are into kickboxing, hockey, and we are supporting a lot of sports including kabaddi, we have been associated with different sports. And I do believe that when you are trying to become the number one brand at that time, having higher visibility, particularly through the sports channels, is a great way to connect with audiences.
On approaching mass media communication and not going for trade advertising
Dhondy: That's a very interesting question. Jha and I had this discussion since last year. So as Jha just mentioned, this whole association with sports began last year, with the Pro Kabbadi League, moving on to the ISL, Women's World Cup, and of course, IPL and now Asia Cup and the World Cup. If you look at the essence of the brand, for eg. Jindal Panther, the brand name itself evokes a certain personality. So when you have a brand, which has a very strong brand personality, you have to find the right kind of fit in terms of the media opportunities too. Sports, interestingly, is a perfect brand fit, because it talks about speed, talks about strength and flexibility exactly what the brand stands for.
Jha: To answer your question on why approach mass media communication for what could potentially be only a B2B brand. But India is a very unique place, you would not imagine rebars being retailed in any other country like India. And if you really go across the country, you would find retail outlets for rebars and cement. Now these retail outlets are the ones which are catering to really small demand and a large proportion of steel through the rebar route and cement gets consumed in retail. So creating these footfalls is a very important element of strategy, particularly if you want stability in your supply chain. Retail provides the highest amount of stability compared to B2B sales. In fact, B2B sales may have large variations in prices. Retail gives far more consistency in prices. So anybody who wants to really sell his rebar well, would do well to consider the retail segment in their strategy.
If you look at the pyramid of the rebar business, right on top are the B2B businesses. So, big builders, big developers like DLF etc, do you buy a flat and you don't know what rebar and what cement is gone into it. But when you come down the pop strata and you go into smaller towns, that's where people like me, when I came from from Alabama, we all need our own homes, and those other small towns where a lot of construction is happening, either making your own shop or your own factory or your own home. And that is where a brand connected with B2C is also as important as it is for B2B.
On the retail constituent of your entire sales
Jha: At the moment, it has been a lower percentage. Pure retail has been about 25 per cent. But we want to take it to 75 per cent.
On what does it mean for being an advertiser, having a massive national distribution network and associating with a sport like cricket
Jha: I think you have to be smart about the money that you spend. If you take a titled sponsorship, it has a completely different connotation, it has completely different viewership. And it allows the viewers to soak in with this kind of a title sponsorship. So, we have been smart about what we are wanting to do, and we do not want to burn the money and use it in a manner where it does not give us the proportionate returns. So we have done our own evaluation and we have actually cherry picked some of the events that allow us to get more miles for our buck.
Dhondy: You will have very large investors in cricket, we have heard the story about dream 11 and all the various dot coms and gaming, investing large sums of money being thrown into cricket. But what we need to do, the word which is very important, is smart and making sure that we stand out of the clutter whether it is a one day match or in a T20 match.
The choice which Jindal made and what we all worked together to create Jindal Panther cricket live made it stand apart. It actually had a unique spot, a unique position in the entire broadcast ecology and therefore we got that standard part to the extent that literally within the first three or four days, I remember we were having a discussion with our trade partners and the word they use was Jindal Panther ‘Chaa Gaya’.
On collective viewing experience helping getting the word out to your viewers and targeted audience
Jha: There are multiple ways like being visible.Visibility is not in short supply as far as Jindal Panther cricket live is concerned, it gets mentioned every now and then. It is constantly there in front of your eyes, as you're watching that program pre match, mid match and post match. Much more than that, what we have also done and that is where Navroze has helped us a lot in creating some crucibles of experience, where we have taken our channel partners to the studio to get them to experience it. And they can't get over themselves about these kinds of experiences. This is what by word of mouth further spreads into the channel. Now people look forward to the opportunity of being selected to be able to get into that exclusive group of people who would be chosen for these kinds of relationship building exercises, I think this is invaluable money can buy.
Dhondy: Along the way, we realised that viewing sport happens in three different ways. One is a very individualistic one, when you're on your mobile, and you're just watching it one on one. One is in a family environment where you're at home, and you're watching with three or four or five people and one is on a much larger scale. It could be in a bar or a pub where you got to 300-400 people watching it together, or a larger place where they put up a huge screen and you got 500 to 1000 people watching it together. In all these cases, interestingly, from that small four inch mobile to that 100 foot screen, when the brand is being visible across, the best part is you are not missing out any target view, you are not missing out any opportunity. The large screen with those big speakers almost transforms the person sitting over there into a real stadium kind of an environment, which actually helps and has a halo effect and rubs off on the brand. So many things are very intangible. But they have their own magic, which they create for the brand.
Wisden, better known as the bible of cricket, is an almost 150 year old brand and they were collecting data all the time. But it was just one book published every year. It's only in India, that from the year 2002 onwards, the last 20 years, we were the pioneers of something called the pre, the mid and the post show which is what Jindal Panther cricket live is all about, you know the interesting insight about this. We as Indians love statistics, we love records, we love discussing and debating and that is why the eyeballs are sticky eyeballs, even for non line in most of the countries the moment they gave us over, telecast is over. But in our country, the game carries on to almost half an hour 45 minutes so that is where the magic of the Indian madness statistics lies.
On the association helping in terms of getting your customers to really buy further into the product
Jha: One of the constant themes of all our interaction with our retail channel partners has been that we are not visible adequately. That was the pre Jindal Panther cricket live. And one big difference that has already happened is that our channel partners are absolutely cheering this entire sponsorship because they have seen that now people ask for Jindal Panther by name. There is still a bit of a brand association of Jindal that rubs off on some spurious other brands who try to claim the same kind of stature as a result. So that's a good problem to have, because imitation is a form of flattery. Of course we can use the same channel to also communicate to the people, to be careful about not getting duped by look alike brands.There is a lot more that can be achieved compared to what we have achieved. We have occupied the top of the mind slot. The next is to also educate people on being careful about what they choose.
On being important to be consistent in your associations with cricket orbit
Jha: I said earlier that cricket is a religion in India and it is likely to remain a religion in India. There are more sports that are coming up in India and I think the time has come when there is adequate support for sportsmen. And we would like to continue our association with sports not just for cricket, but also for other sports which do not sometimes get that kind of money visibility etc. We are very happy to see for example, the premier Kabaddi League, after IPL has got the maximum amount of eyeballs and we felt that getting associated with Kabbadi which is a quintessential sport invented in India and once again, the speed strength flexibility are the values that are very core to the sport of kabaddi there. We also find that there is interest in some pockets particularly West Bengal and Kerala, around football more than anywhere else. But increasingly it is finding an expression and viewership as well as coming into the collective consciousness, both soccer as well as hockey, and these are the sports which are coming up. And we would like to definitely remain associated with them as well. So it is not just cricket.
On the meet and greet with the cricketing partners and the change they brought in
Jha: The very first thing is that the partners feel valued when you bring them to an event, whether it is a meet and greet, but it is not just a meet and greet with the company officials. They idolise these heroes from the cricket world, the commentators and the whole experience actually takes them to another platform. They start associating with the company, a far greater positive image, and about themselves as well, because they are visible on TV, this is their moment when they are visible to a larger audience. It also helps those who have not been selected, let's say in the first round, to be a bit aspirational about the achievements that they should have, so that they are considered for the next round. So it's a win-win win for everybody. An association that has helped us build the brand, the channel relationships, and create a positive mindset amongst those who want to be there.
On the upcoming World Cup & Asia Cup and expecting new milestones, putting more money etc
Jha: We would always prefer judicious spending of money over anything else. It is a value for money that we evaluate in each and every case. And we are very conscious of the fact that things like India Pakistan match, they get the top ratings compared to anything else. And both Asia Cup and World Cup does create multiple opportunities for this kind of an interaction to take place. How can you be missing in action on those? So of course, we see value for money. But we also want to bring to the people the whole excitement in a manner that they associate themselves with a brand. It is that positive association that we are looking forward to.
On Cricket Live going forward in the World Cup as well as in the Asia Cup
Jha: Anything that does not change will become stale. Innovation requires us to constantly change and make things more and more interesting. From a viewership perspective as well as those who we put forward for participation. So we would of course be looking for more and more innovation through this platform that we have created for ourselves. It is important to realise that one is that sports is a way of life, and our chairman himself is a sports lover. He is not just a sports lover, he actually excels at doing things for example, in shooting or in polo, he plays at national levels and therefore, it is a way of life that we have adopted for the company, there is a lot of focus on fitness etc. As far as sponsorship is concerned, apart from mass media, the very powerful medium is that of digital. We are still far away from an iconic brand like Amul, where they get quoted so many times, how do they come up with such brilliant lines, which can be seen in less than five seconds, and can be replicated. So there is a lot more that we have to do as a brand. But sports is a good start, how we're building on it, with the power of such catchy phrases and things that we can connect with the audience and remain contemporary. That remains our challenge. And we would like to work in that and continue to make the world a better place to live with the quality of products and services we give.