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Ad industry, Set Max keep fingers crossed IPL stimulus isn’t delayed
New Delhi, Mumbai: In a span of just 45 days, the Indian Premier League—or, IPL—cricket extravaganza will garner around 5% of corporate India’s entire advertising and marketing budgets. It is this scale of business in an economic slowdown year that has made it difficult for the Indian government to take a call on postponing the event.

Even as the home ministry went into a huddle throughout Wednesday to determine whether the security agencies could handle the pressure of running a five-phase election and the cricket carnival simultaneously, the ad industry is hoping for only minor rescheduling, not cancellation. O&M (South Asia) executive chairman & national creative director Piyush Pandey told FE, “It is all a matter of timing. If it is delayed by two months, it will not impact the advertising fraternity.”

But Hiren Pandit, president of Entertainment & Sports Partnership of Group M (part of WPP Plc), believes there would be a major impact if the tournament were to be postponed. “Our belief is that the on the back of IPL is around Rs 700 crore. If the tournament is postponed, IPL and its franchisees will be badly hit. The IPL cannot be postponed as there’s no window available to hold the tournament later.”

A postponement by even a month would force not only Sony (now known as Multi Screen Media Ltd), the parent company of broadcast rights holder Set Max, back to the drawing board, but also associated advertisers, sponsors and rival broadcasters. “If the event is postponed by months altogether, it is bound to upset advertisers’ plans,” said Lodestar Universal COO Nandini Dias.

The cola giants are lukewarm about buying spots beyond the summer months, feel advertisers. PepsiCo has already booked spots on Set Max, revealed an ad industry source. Despite the recession, Sony is currently selling ads at a rate of Rs 4 lakh for ten seconds, marginally higher than last year’s Rs 2.5-3.5 lakh, which was upped for the semi-finals and finals, but still lower than the target figure of Rs 5.5 lakh, added a media buying agency official.

Coke has partnered with Kolkata Knight Riders while PepsiCo has additionally bagged the sponsorship rights for Mumbai Indians for the upcoming IPL season. The ad and marketing budgets of soft drink companies is obviously tilted to take advantage of the summer months.

Sony is learnt to have already sold over half its ad spot inventory. According to estimates, Sony will have around 17 minutes in the 3-hour, 20-minute game’s format, of which it will have to give main sponsors Airtel and Vodafone, as well as associate sponsors around half that airtime. Said Sony president (sales & revenue) Rohit Gupta: “It’s still ifs and buts and we don’t want to comment on speculation.”

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