NEW DELHI: Coca-Cola is spending around three times as much as normal on the India Premier League this year as it takes on regional brands and pushes new variants of its leading products.

“This year, we are seeing heightened activity and increased spending from Coca-Cola,” a senior media buyer told the Economic Times. “The company is spending close to Rs 100 crore on ads during the IPL. Normally, it spends Rs 30 crore or so.”

The drinks company is pushing not just the eponymous Coca-Cola brand but also Sprite and Thums Up and diet variants and there is plenty of marketing activity beyond TV ads.

Coca-Cola is the main sponsor for OTT platform Hotstar, owned by Star India which has the IPL broadcast rights, while Thums Up and Sprite will sponsor branded segments on Tamil channels. Additionally, Maaza Refresh is sponsoring feeds on DD Sports.

Meanwhile a “war-room” tracks and reacts to events on and off the pitch in order to “seed conversations and amplify our campaigns on social media among teenagers and the youth”, according to a spokesperson for Coca-Cola.

“With IPL available in six languages and across multiple screens, it enables us to leverage multiple platforms to focus on micro-segmentation and build deep connects with consumers,” the spokesperson added.

Coca-Cola is also rolling out its global Share a Coke campaign in India during the IPL, but rather than having individual names on bottles and cans, it is instead focusing on family relationships with words like Papa, Amma, Didi, Bhai and Maccha (a South Indian colloquial term) featuring instead.

While Coca-Cola is spending more heavily than before, these amounts are a fraction of what Star India needs to recoup from its massive investment in cricket, including the IPL, BCCI and ICC media rights.

While some have questioned whether Star can succeed, others are more sanguine. “Cricket defies media logic,” observed Gopinath Menon, an independent media buying expert.

“Nobody looks at return on investment,” he told Mint. “You buy and sell on impact.”

Online video adspend rose 63.3% to INR12.4bn in 2017, around a quarter of all online display adspend last year, according to data from WARC's International Ad Forecast.

Sourced from Economic Times, Mint; additional content by WARC staff