70% of our spends are on social & digital marketing this IPL: Subish Sudhakaran, Titan

Sonata, the watch brand from Titan, is the official merchandising and licensing partner of Chennai Super Kings for IPL 2020. The brand that has associated with IPL in the past as well is leveraging the sporting extravaganza this season with a plethora of unique activations and engaging strategies.

In a chat with exchange4media, Subish Sudhakaran, Marketing Head, Sonata, Titan Company Limited, opens up on betting big on digital, how Sonata plans to engage fans in the new normal with the stadiums being empty, ROI that the brand has managed to score last year by its association with IPL 2019 and plans to own it this year. Sudhakaran shares that the brand is eyeing at strengthening its stature in Tamil Nadu and adding new consumers in the younger age group by striking a chord through Chennai Super Kings.

Edited excerpts below:

Why is IPL an important property to partner with for Sonata?

IPL has changed the way cricket is seen in the country and has become a source of entertainment for Indian households. The scale of cricket is immense in India and difficult to match. For a value brand like Sonata, the scale is extremely important. Every year, we reach out to millions of consumers and IPL as a platform offers a good opportunity to connect with consumers on a larger scale.

How does the brand intend leveraging the partnership with CSK through this season? Could you share some innovative branding/marketing strategies that we will witness as we go forward?

IPL teams see a passionate following, and the Chennai Super Kings team especially has a massive loyal following, both in TN and across the country. It’s ranked No.1 on brand strength amongst the IPL teams. Stars like Dhoni, Bravo, Raina, and Jadeja have taken the franchisee to a whole new level.

Sonata wants to strengthen its brand stature in TN and add new consumers in the younger age group by striking a chord through Chennai Super Kings. To engage with the CSK fan community, we created Sonata X CSK merchandise inspired by the colour schemes, symbols, and the hook lines of the franchise. The watches are vibrant and sporty making them a must-have for CSK fans.

To promote this collection, a 360-degree media plan was devised, targeting key touchpoints.
We have a multi-film digital campaign ‘Once a Fan, Always a Fan’ that celebrates the spirit of sportsmanship and the ultimate fans of CSK. It portrays the true fans of CSK who support and express their love for the team throughout the year, irrespective of when, where or if the IPL is happening. The film is both in English and Tamil to reach out to fans nationwide and in the CSK home ground.

A well-rounded social and digital campaign was created with an objective to build awareness about the Sonata X CSK partnership and the collection of uniquely designed watches resulting from this partnership. News, cricket portals, social media etc are covered to ensure we reach the right audience.
We also plan to partner with some of the fervent fans of CSK and fan pages to create excitement about the partnership. Engaging and entertaining the CSK fans throughout the season will be the key objective. Considering the affinity of the people of TN to the news channels, we are promoting the collection through elements like time checks, Aston bands, L bands, logo bugs etc. on popular news channels in TN. We are also partnering with IPL specific shows like HIPL on J news as an associate sponsor.

Could you share your marketing budgets around the IPL? How much will be the spend on digital and broadcast?

Digital marketing will be the focus of this year’s campaign. As much as 70 per cent of the spends will be directed towards social and digital marketing, while the rest will be utilized for broadcasting and bazaar presence.

What has been the ROI from your association with IPL in the past?

The ROI has been very good for brand Sonata with the association to IPL that comes with this partnership.

• Amongst the TG MF 22-40 AB, the brand has seen a good campaign reach of 19M through IPL on TV

• Brand Sonata has seen a spontaneous recall of 3 per cent and aided recall of 21 per cent amongst the people who followed the IPL 2019 (Report by Kantar)

• Social and digital campaign delivered 60+ Million impressions

• The engagement metrics were encouraging and helped the brand to connect with the fans

• 830K social media engagements

• 100 people were responding via WhatsApp during every match/city & winners of each city were gratified by sonata CSK Collection (14-day campaign).

• The influencer activity garnered 66K Likes and delivered 5.4L impressions. Received over 2000 entries to the social media contests

Do you also intend running some IPL-related brand activities on social media platforms? Could you share details of the same? As consumers will not be able to be at stadiums this year, how is Sonata looking at engaging them through the digital space?

In terms of cricket performances, CSK is one of the most successful franchises in IPL. But what’s more impressive is the fans; they are one enthusiastic bunch you would want cheering for the team. So, working with the fact that CSK is not just a team but a sentiment, we want to celebrate the fans this year. Hence the theme we are talking about this year is ‘Once a Fan, Always a Fan’.

With IPL not happening in India, a lot of CSK fans would miss the opportunity of not being able to be present at the stadium to cheer for their beloved team. We’ll be exploring the option of AR Filters giving our users a feel of them cheering for their favourite team as though they are at the ground. We have matchday updates where we are encouraging/ reminding the audience to not miss the match, and have open discussions on matches to engage with fellow cricket enthusiasts.

There is gamification on our website, where the users can try their hand on knocking the ball out of the park and win exciting prizes every week and discounts on the CSK Collection.

How do you see all these activities benefiting the watch category?

In the current scenario, we have seen customers cutting down on discretionary spending. They have been focusing on essentials and looking for value for money products.
Consumers need a strong reason to purchase. With campaigns like ‘Once a Fan, Always a Fan’ for Sonata CSK 2020, we want to appeal to the emotional side of our consumers. Many factors have impacted the way fans would normally watch IPL and we want to give them a reason to celebrate their strong bonding with team CSK through our watches. By doing so, we aim to build love and loyalty for brand Sonata which will result in the purchase of more merchandise watches and give a boost to the watches category.

IPL 2020 has a list of over 60 advertisers. With so many brands and so much happening, how are you still ensuring that your brand will break through this clutter and manage to garner the expected brand-recall?

A strongly relatable purpose and excellent storytelling are two ways for brands to break the clutter. The theme of the campaign ‘Once a fan, always a fan’ resonates strongly with the CSK fans. It’s engaging, entertaining and very relatable. By keeping fans at the centre of the campaign, we believe that we can break the clutter by engaging with them throughout the season with various activities on multiple platforms.

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