PSL: Battle Of Brands (BOB)

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Over the last few years, PSL has turned into a sporting spectacle. It has created a lot of viewer interest and companies spend huge sums of advertising dollars to create saliency for their brands. For viewers, PSL is all about cricket, fun and frolic but for marketers it has turned into the battle of the brands.
Looking at other sporting events like IPL or Super Bowl, marketers have come a long way in figuring out how to effectively utilize these platforms and engage with the viewers. Apple’s iconic 1984 Super Bowl ad https://youtu.be/2zfqw8nhUwA  changed the rules of the game, after which more and more companies started creating ads focusing exclusively on the big event. This format has now become so popular that brands are willing to pay more than $5 million for a 30-sec ad during the event
IPL has been no different from Super Bowl, over the years there have been many amazing campaigns during the event including but not limited to Vodafone ZooZoos (https://youtu.be/nS3C_KseNDs) , Amazon Chonkpur Cheetah https://youtu.be/DyKjlxsFJQQ etc. and advertisers are willing to pay up to $30,000 for a 30-sec spot buy. Someone wise once said that the quickest way to kill a bad product is with great advertising and I think the opposite is also true. Whether funny, sad or all out bizarre, all these ads have become a phenomenon and viewers look forward to the new season so that they can be entertained.

Now, let’s talk about PSL. Three years back we started our own cricket league and as expected, it became a big success. It generated a lot of interest from advertisers and viewers were also glued to their TV sets. Now, one would have expected that advertisers would cash in on the opportunity and would try to do something unique and interesting but it’s been disappointing except for few noteworthy campaigns here and there.
In my opinion, HBL took the leap of faith with the title sponsorship and over the last three seasons, it has paid them huge dividends. Though, one can debate on the quality of their communication but they have amassed the maximum share of voice among all the brands advertised and it would have definitely helped them improve their overall scores
Last season Nestle Fruita Vitals was one of the leading advertiser in PSL and they did some interesting activation’s. My favorite was when during the final in Lahore, they launched two new flavors: Mint Margarita and Pina colada through a specially minted coin during the toss. It was very innovative and something that was never done during a ICC cricket match – very well done!
This year, I was expecting the quality of the ads to improve but it has further deteriorated and I fail to understand that brands are willing to pay up to Rs. 500k for a minute to advertise during the event but can’t spend time on coming up with a half decent ad. Asia Ghee and cooking oil, Boom Boom, Allied Bank, Shama are some of the more forgettable ads and they need to understand that a higher frequency can’t generate salience. They should spend more time deciphering the consumer insight and create attention grabbing communication.
While TV ads remains the most intrusive form of advertising, this season during PSL, brands also tried doing different on-ground activation’s: Pepsi- catch a crore, OPPO- Selfi moment, Uber-Move with Uber, Head & Shoulder – move for a million, #HogaSaafPakistan were some of the more prominent ones. The whole idea of doing an on-ground activation is to generate consumer experience and create a brand connect but except for Uber (move with Uber) there wasn’t anything worth mentioning. Pepsi has been doing the “catch a crore” activation for a while now but it’s getting a bit boring.

I understand that its getting more and more difficult to break through the clutter and it seems that buying bucket loads of impressions is the only solution but we must understand that today, consumers call the shots and they can ignore and disregard anything that even remotely displeases them. Therefore, we must re-calibrate our media mix and be true and honest to our consumers.