PepsiCo has bagged the title sponsorship of the Indian Premier League (IPL) for the next five years, paying double the amount paid by erstwhile sponsor DLF, which paid Rs 200 crore for the rights. This is also the company's largest investment in the field of cricket.
Manu Anand, chairman, PepsiCo India, said, "I am delighted we have succeeded in rebranding the tournament as Pepsi-IPL, thus cementing a five-year partnership between two brands that enjoy an iconic status, not only in India, but globally. With our continuing sponsorship of the ICC World Cup, we are the now the biggest supporters of the game of cricket. We have reaffirmed our passion and commitment to cricket and this investment reiterates the importance of India business in the PepsiCo global system."
Earlier, Delhi-based real estate major DLF had backed out of an extension, citing a rise in sponsorship rates. For the new sponsorship, the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) had expected about four times the amount paid by DLF, said people in the know.
Hiren Pandit, managing partner (entertainment, sports and partnerships), media buying agency Group M, feels Pepsi's association with IPL would generate a lot of value. "DLF could not do much of brand activation around the huge property of IPL. But for Pepsi, it's different. It can do lot more activations and the kind of visibility it would get with IPL is a good investment for it. Also, you have to understand IPL is held in the summer, the best season for Pepsi," Pandit said.
On the rationale behind the bid, Deepika Warrier, vice-president (beverage marketing), PepsiCo India, said: "No scale association with cricket is possible in India without a sizeable IPL presence. IPL has now become the new face of Indian cricket. It combines the best of cricket with entertainment, regional club passion and international glamour. Brand Pepsi is an iconic youth brand and one of the most recalled and trusted brands across categories in the country. Now, with this association, we hope to catapult brand Pepsi to an even higher orbit - that of the most universal, popular and trend-setting youth brand.
The title association of Pepsi IPL and other benefits would allow brand Pepsi and other PepsiCo brands to gain more than conventional sponsorship benefits and generate immense universality across the country."
BCCI marketing committee chairman Farooq Abdullah said, "BCCI is very pleased to welcome PepsiCo as a central partner of the IPL. The value of the winning bid reflects the growth and success of the IPL."
Rajeev Shukla, chairman, IPL governing council, said, "PepsiCo is one of the largest sponsors in world sport and we look forward to working with them over the next seasons. I would also like to take this opportunity to thank DLF for its confidence in the IPL to become the league's first title sponsor in 2008."
In the last few years, IPL has been plagued by low viewer interest, as controversies, coupled with a predictable format, took the sheen off the tournament. According to a report by Brand Finance, IPL's current brand value is $2.92 billion, compared with $4.13 billion in 2010. Television ratings for the tournament have also fallen from an average of 4.81 in the inaugural edition to 3.27 in the fifth season this year.
But Pandit doesn't agree with the valuations. "IPL is still the best proposition for brands. And, in my opinion, valuations are just on paper."
After DLF had declined to extend the partnership in August, BCCI had floated a tender for the title sponsorship of its marquee event. It is understood only PepsiCo and Airtel bid for the title sponsorship rights.