The Drum Awards for Marketing EMEA - Awards Show

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By Amit Bapna, APAC editor-at-large

May 17, 2023 | 7 min read

As the 2023 tournament swings into gear, The Drum explores the brand sponsors and partners that are leveraging the event’s popularity to connect with audiences.

Indian conglomerate Tata Group is the title sponsor for the 2023 Indian Premier League (IPL) and is focused on promoting its super app Tata Neu and ensuring the group's digital future.

”For Indian viewers, the Tata IPL is the biggest festival of sport – no other platform can offer such a broad reach and demographic of viewers,” says Sheran Mendiratta Mehra, chief brand officer and business head of hotels at Tata Digital, part of the Tata Group.

As India’s largest and most prominent company, Tata was a natural fit as title sponsor for the IPL. It secured the lucrative naming rights in 2022 on a two-year deal, replacing Vivo.

“The brand hopes to build a deeper connection with the audience, leveraging its popularity, continuing to build on its brand presence and staying connected with the target audience,” Mehra tells The Drum.

However, the strategy is not only about brand presence. The IPL sponsorship also underlines the overall company direction in making the group a future-ready enterprise with increased investments in digital entities. Tata Group launched its super app Tata Neu in April 2022, which offers a slew of services like fashion, groceries, electronics, flight bookings, food delivery, investments and hotel bookings all under one roof.

The IPL game plan

“We are creating a buzz around our updated offerings to drive app exploration, encourage customer engagement and, ultimately, drive purchases,” shares Mehra.

The brand is doing this via a 360-degree omnichannel campaign – on air, in the stadium, on social media and through its exclusive partner brands. This year, it even took to the skies to get the maximum bang for the buck, shares Mehra. (A Tata Neu Drone Aero Show was featured live on the occasion of the app’s first anniversary during the match in Kolkata.)

“The key to getting the best bang for your buck is to keep monitoring performance, optimizing and staying agile for any pivots.”

The creative story-telling

With viewership habits witnessing a shift from TV to OTT formats, as well as increased dual viewership and content being consumed both in-home and on the go, the choice of the media mix strategy is “a mix of broadcast, OTT, on-ground, and social media to reach a wider audience”.

For the lead campaign this year, the messaging centered on Tata Neu’s user-friendly rewards, called ‘NeuCoins’. It played on the action-packed Tata IPL commentary, bringing alive the key benefit of shopping on Tata Neu through the slice-of-life moments of the main protagonists, shares Mehra.

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The 2023 media plan and the innovations

The IPL tournament has some unique features built-in into its nearly 2-month long intense format that, when deployed well, can have a significant impact on brand visibility and awareness with its humongous audience reach.

And like any long program, it is critical to have high points in the campaign to keep the engagement alive, says Mehra.

This year, in addition to the campaign, the brand did many other activations and experiential initiatives.

In line with its omnichannel offering and also to utilize the cross-promotional opportunity of being a part of the large Tata group spread, Tata Neu planned visibility across partner brands with a QR-led campaign across Croma Stores, IHCL Hotels, Bigbasket, and Qmin packaging, engaging even consumers and fans at home to ’scan, download and win Tata IPL tickets’.

The Tata Neu Box, an innovative fan engagement initiative, returned across 12 cities allowing fans to experience Tata IPL up close and get featured live during the broadcast.

To mark its first anniversary since the launch, an IPL-first Tata Neu Drone Aero Show was featured live at the Kolkata venue at Eden Gardens that delivered a message about the breadth of categories on the app.

A unique co-creator-led social media campaign ‘Mood hi badal diya’ was launched, where macro, micro and nano creators came together. The campaign focused on elevating the celebrations and defusing the tension of fans during the Tata IPL season with the help of a creator squad.

The IPL lessons

The IPL is a dynamic and fast-paced tournament with unexpected moments and twists that can capture the attention of millions of viewers. For Mehra, one big learning from the IPL association is the importance of being agile and responsive to real-time events and opportunities and being ready to pivot along the way to get the best results.

To make the most of the association with the IPL, the key learning is to be flexible and adaptable in its strategy, she shares. That includes closely monitoring the tournament and reacting quickly to relevant events and trends, which helps in creating content that resonates with fans and generates high levels of engagement. “We can also decide to do more or less based on the consumer response that we are tracking.”

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