Team Marketing at Vivo India now has a single point agenda. To retain the Indian Premier League TITLE sponsorship rights. Everything else is pushed to the back burner. The biggest threat comes from its own sister concern and biggest competition in Indian market – OPPO. The Vivo team, led by its Chief Marketing Officer Vivek Jhang, is not ready to repeat the error of judgment it had made to lose out the Team India jersey rights to Oppo.
The BBK Electronics group smartphone brands, who are also the fierce rivals, have tasted and realized cricket’s marketing potential in India. While Oppo sits pretty with Team India and International Cricket Council title rights for the next three and five years respectively, for Vivo IPL will now be the struggle for survival in the Indian cricket marketing space.
Vivo has been as much a victim of Oppo’s aggression as much it has gained from the cricket strategies. When Oppo bagged the naming rights for the Team India jersey for Rs 1,079 crores, Vivo was the second highest bidder with an offer of Rs 768 crores. The worrying factor for the Vivo marketing top brass is that a blow on the IPL front will virtually sweep the brand with the blue logo off the biggest smartphone marketing platform in India – cricket. That’s giving Jhang and his team sleepless nights.
“The challenge is to spend wisely and be ahead of the rivals,” says an analyst working on the Vivo IPL bid evaluation team. “It’s a tough challenge. The bid has to be realistic yet the best of them all.”
Even as they come from the same parent group – China’s BBK Electronics – Vivo and Oppo in India are bitter rivals. The fight to gain the market share glaringly reflects in the battle to acquire marketing space. As Vivo bagged the IPL title rights, Oppo’s restlessness was evident. The latter went all out to buy all the available on-air IPL spots. Oppo was also the third highest spender in IPL 2016 in terms of on air advertisement duration. Vivo, which has been absent in 2016, returned with a strategy to snatch as much as it could from Oppo – emerging the most visible on-air brand during the IPL broadcast in 2017.
IPL PAID BEST DIVIDENTS
The brand has derived best dividends from its association with the IPL. The brand had replaced Pepsi as the IPL sponsor in 2016. Quarter-2 2016, that covered the IPL period, witnessed an unprecedented 107% rise in Vivo’s market share – from 1.4% to 3%.
There was no looking back for the brand thereafter. Cricket turned out to be the driver as Vivo made a steady gain to progress to the third position behind market leader Samsung and Oppo. Vivo’s share for quarter one 2017 reached 18% in the Rs 10,000-20,000 segment and 8% in Rs 8,000 segment.
SPORTS FIRST CHOICE
Vivo’s aggression for the IPL rights is driven by brand’s strong faith in sports-driven marketing strategy. Cricket connects the nation form Kashmir to Kanyakumar, from Kutch to Anjaw, Arunachal Pradesh. With few options left around cricket, Vivo has grabbed the second best in the market – kabaddi – and is also set to gain the best available option around hockey. But, strategists in the Vivo marketing team are convinced cricket will be pivotal to the entire strategy. If IPL is gone, everything else will come to a naught.
CHINESE CONTROL ON INDIAN CRICKET
The Indian cricket market has been virtually swept by the Chinese brands. The Korean, Japanese and US brands have entered the Indian market space much earlier to establish themselves. The new entrants from China rely heavily on aggressive marketing, driven by cricket.
UP TO Rs 700 CRORE BID
Vivo is in no mood to let the IPL slip out of its hand. Avoiding any callousness, the brand marketing top brass is drawing some comfort from the fact that having bagged ICC and India titles, Oppo will be restrained from extremely aggressive commitments. Still, the brand is prepared to escalate its bid by 50% to 60%, which may witness a five year commitment of up to Rs 700 crores. For, the title brings with it a host of onfield marketing space opportunities, with unparalleled potential for on-air conversions.
Vivo still faces toughest competition from Oppo. Maruti Suzuki, following strong positive response for Grand Vitara after its on-ground presence, Reliance Jio, Vodafone, Kia, Airtel, PayTM Alibaba and Amazon are others to join the bandwagon.
For now, the BCCI top brass is tight-lipped about the IPL tenders as a majority is enjoying Champions Trophy in England and Wales, with decision on BCCI Head coach being the top job on their agenda for now.