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IPL playbook: Vodafone Idea uses India’s biggest sport franchise to promote Vi


By Amit Bapna, Editor-at-large

October 13, 2020 | 4 min read

The Drum goes behind some of the leading brands associating with Indian Premier League this year to unravel their marketing playbook.

During the last few weeks, the world of cricket and the sponsor brands have been amid the IPL (Indian Premier League) action. The 13th edition of this mega sporting bonanza kicked off a few days back and shall continue for the next few weeks.

Thanks to the pandemic, the much-delayed event got morphed into a broadcast property with the actual game being played in the United Arab Emirates (UAE), instead of home-market India. Nevertheless, the enthusiasm among the brands to apportion their marketing budgets to IPL has been remarkable - almost bringing about a resurgence in the ecosystem after a lacklustre last six months.

In this series, The Drum will speak to some of the marquee brands to share their IPL game plan and how they will make the most of this mega-event, despite the many challenges.

This week, Kavita Nair, chief digital transformation and brand officer of Vodafone Idea Limited shares the IPL playbook of Vi, the newest telecom brand in the Indian landscape. (Vi was formed post the merger of Vodafone and Idea, two leading telecom players in India).

The IPL association

While individually both Vodafone and Idea have been associated with the country’s largest cricketing extravaganza in the past editions, 2020 marks the debut for Vi, the newly created merged brand entity launched amidst much fanfare and marketing buzz a few weeks back. This year Vi has acquired the co-presenting rights of the live broadcast of IPL 2020 from Star Sports.

Game plan

According to Kavita Nair, chief digital transformation and brand officer of Vodafone Idea Limited, “Vi is a future-ready brand, build to dynamically serve a digital society to progress in life. In the current times, IPL is like a breath of fresh air for Indians.”

After building awareness that Vodafone and Idea are now Vi, the brand is using IPL to create relevance by introducing its combined entity strong 4G network that will enable users to get ahead by staying connected. Shares Nair, “We have set up a world-class network with the largest spectrum portfolio, huge capacity, and built on many principles of 5G architecture that help in delivering a superior network experience.”

Why IPL makes sense

Nair believes that cricket is a religion in India and IPL, as a property, offers broader engagement with the audience than just as a sport. Not just that, it is a much-awaited sporting extravaganza that offers a welcome break from the currently-on pandemic-induced stress, she feels.

Specifically, for the newly anointed brand IPL provides a good media vehicle in many ways. Says Nair, “It is a great opportunity to connect with our consumers and drive awareness about the newest telecom brand in the country, giving us an opportunity to leverage Vi’s dynamic edge and digital-first approach.” It is a great platform to renew conventional methods in a contemporary, flexible manner, she adds.

Marketing innovations lined up

  • To make the most of the opportunity, the brand has launched a slew of innovations. For instance, it has launched an Augmented Reality based ‘Trails enter your home’ filter, where the customers can click on a link to take a photo/video while the trademark ‘Vi trail’ opens up.
  • It has also launched another AR-based digital engagement activity - ‘ViFilter’.
  • In addition, it also ran a two-week customer gratification activity that invited all customers and non-customers to ‘Spot the Logo’ on the Vi App and the website and win prizes every day.

IPL creative book

Close on the heels of the hi-decibel rebranding campaign, Vi launched an integrated brand campaign to highlight its future-ready 4G network – to be highlighted in the IPL season.

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