MUMBAI: India's top-level cricket league may be the most lucrative in the world, but in an effort to pack as much branding as possible onto players, many advertisers are forgotten along the way.

Though it is typical for players to wear between 8-10 logos on their kits, the combined brand portfolio advertising with the eight franchisees totals 65 different brands.

This creates significant challenges for brands – despite the competition's status as the largest single advertising property in India, generating constant viewership and huge excitement for 50 straight days – as recall and return on investment remain difficult for brands to ensure.

Speaking to the Economic Times, an unnamed media executive who represents two major sponsors questioned whether brands are exploiting the opportunity. "It is becoming a crowded space," he said. "Until they have a disruptive strategy, the logo may not even register.

"Every advertiser wants his brand's logo on the players' jerseys, but the question is at what cost," he continued, adding that both Reliance Jio, the telco, and Gionee, the smartphone manufacturer, did well this season, finding premium properties, but that many brands failed to be noticed.

Partly, the issue stems from unequal exposure on the kits. "Among franchisee apparel properties, front chest of the jersey (35%) and back of the jersey are the top two" in terms of brand recall and ROI performance, said Irvinder Kaur, managing partner at mConsult.

By sponsoring two teams, Gionee was the greatest beneficiary of front-chest sponsorship for recall, meaning that the brand secured visibility in 26 of the 46 games until the knockouts.

In terms of sheer reach, Reliance Jio secured the highest brand recall across all team sponsors, through a presence on seven out of eight IPL teams' kits, as well as its broader multimedia presence throughout the league.

Sanjay Vakharia, COO Spykar Lifestyle, the clothing brand, which also gained high recall, praised the competition's national reach for brands, "especially when you associate with the best in the class team and more when the team is on a roll," he said.

Furthermore, he claimed the long-term subconscious exposure was key to brand building, adding that sponsorship "works to keep the brand in the correct orbit and part of the consideration for consumers."

Data sourced from the Economic Times; additional content by WARC staff