It’s not just sports-starved fans who are celebrating the return of IPL. After staring at a blank canvas in the first half of 2020, the beleaguered advertising community is hoping the lucrative cricket property will spark a revival in large integrated marketing campaigns by brands.
For the advertising community, April to June were disastrous months. Advertising expenditure (AdEx) dipped as much as 65 per cent, according to a Pitch-Madison report released this week. In the first half of 2020, AdEx was just ₹21,298 crore — a drop of ₹13,812 crore compared to the same period last year. However, the same report forecasts that the second half of this year will see ad spends of between ₹34,300 crore and ₹36,000 crore wiping out some of the deficits.
Lack of good ad properties
A big reason for the AdEx dip in the first half was the lack of good advertising properties. Last year, between April and June, over ₹3,000 crore ad revenue was generated by IPL, ICC World Cup and elections, according to the report.
Come September, with the IPL back and the festival season starting, and TV networks like Zee commencing production of new shows, there is big hope of an advertising revival.
“Brands require a dose of salience in the days to come and nothing better than an omnibus vehicle like IPL in this rather bleak year from an opportunity perspective,” says Vivek Srivastava, Joint MD of Innocean Worldwide, the agency behind Kia Motors.
Naresh Gupta, co-founder of agency Bang in the Middle, which has just done an Onam campaign for smartphone brand Vivo, says, “We are seeing a lot of new enquiries from brands. There is a lot of reshuffle going on in brands. We are seeing an uptick in Kerala.”
The ad community expects that Vivo, which was forced out of the IPL, will be an aggressive advertiser.
Sam Balsara, Founder and Chairman of Madison World, is quite optimistic about the second half of 2020. “We expect substantial growth not just over the suppressed first half of the year, but even over H2 2019 of 6-13 per cent,” he says. The reason for his optimism, he says, is that TV and digital had already started bouncing back by June. “Print is bouncing back in August, and should get in full form by October. Radio, Outdoor and Cinema should get back in full form by early November.”
Balsara also says: “After depressed sentiments for five months, consumers will loosen purse strings to indulge a bit for the festival season.”
Equally optimistic is RK Swamy Hansa Group Chairman Srinivasan Swamy, who is also world president of ad body IAA. The IAA pushed a campaign ‘Let’s Advertise’ in June and July exhorting brands to advertise. “Advertising is the only way to stimulate the economy,” he says.
Swamy feels that while IPL may be expensive for many brands, a lot of other opportunities will open up in September.
Auto, FMCG push
The ad revival is expected to be led by the FMCG sector, which was most resilient during the lockdown. Education and Auto, too, are expected to lead the ad push. “In print in H1, education including edutech, overtook FMCG to become the largest contributor,” points out Balsara.
The ‘vocal for local’ spirit is likely to see hitherto unadvertised desi brands launch campaigns.
While ad volumes may go up, there are fears that the discounted ‘Covid’ rates may continue for a while.