MUMBAI: Insurgent Chinese brands have taken over every major sponsorship opportunity in Indian cricket as they seek to grow brand awareness in the country.
Cricket has long been a lucrative sponsorship opportunity in India. According to a recent Warc report, more than 74% of sponsorship dollars in the country are directed towards the Indian Premier League.
(For more on the power of cricket for building brand awareness in India, read Warc's report: Cricket dominates sports sponsorship in India.)
Chinese brands are jumping on the bandwagon with Oppo, a Chinese telco challenger brand, picking up sponsorship of India's national team.
Meanwhile, PayTM, which has Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba as its largest shareholder, also owns title sponsorship of all cricket tournaments in India.
According to the Economic Times, Oppo has splashed out on the sponsorship rights, paying more than double than the team's previous sponsor, Star Media. The agreement is cricket's biggest ever sponsorship deal, outpacing Sahara India Pariwar's agreement by some margin.
Oppo will commit Rs 1,079 crore over the next five years on the agreement. The fast-growing telco intends to pay Rs 4.17 crore per match to the Indian cricket team for bilateral series and Rs 1.51 crore for ICC tournaments.
Marketing executives in the country understand the motivation, but aren't convinced the sponsorship "carpet bombing" will convert into stronger business results.
"Cricket is our religion, which they have identified. But, we have to take this with a pinch of salt. We have seen recently companies such as LeEco coming in with big promises and then going belly up," said brand expert Harish Bijoor.
"It is also about these brands trying to get saliency in India," explained Shashi Sinha, Chief Executive of media agency IPG Mediabrands India. "This is not about controlling the sport or market; it is about building credibility in India."
Data sourced from Economic Times; additional content by Warc staff