The rise of T20, led by the Indian Premier League, which this year saw its eleventh edition, has incited change in cricket sponsorship – creating new assets and new platforms for brands to leverage. A study of sponsorship deals across major test nations, their domestic T20 competitions and their teams explores the different roles that sponsorship in T20 performs in different territories.
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- After the IPL's record deal with Chinese smartphone manufacturer Vivo, the ICC and major boards have the highest-value deals in cricket. The boards of Australia, India and England follow a similar structure of sponsorship with one front-of-shirt sponsor across all formats of the game, but title rights sold to individual series of each format differ. This strategy was trail blazed by Cricket Australia's previous major partner Qantas, which was the first commercial partner to secure branding rights across the shirts of all three formats of men's international cricket in Australia (Test matches, One-Day Internationals and T20 Internationals).
- The highest-value team deals are IPL front-of-shirt positions, but they are some distance behind the governing bodies. IPL front-of-shirt deals range from $1.5m - $3.4m per annum and there is a further drop outside of India. Top English T20 teams earn less than $500,000 a year.
- The ICC sponsorship programme features four Global Partners all with an equal footing in exposure, they are able to activate around several global events across each cycle.
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- The Vivo IPL title deal dwarfs both the Big Bash and T20 Blast deals. The popularity of cricket in India drives the price of this deal, however, using data about cricket's popularity from FanTracker, we calculated that cost per fan is lower than the Australian and English league title deals.
- Australia and England have similar cricket fan-bases however KFC pays more than Vitality for title sponsorship of the respective competitions. The Big Bash attracts much higher audiences, particularly on matchdays where official figures put the Big Bash average attendance around 30,000 with the Blast attracting 7,500 on average.
- Vivo's deal with the IPL gives brand ownership of a tournament with a large distribution of fans across all ages and gender, however Vodafone's change in strategy to use ambush marketing may have an impact on Vivo's campaign.
- The ECB's deal with health insurance provider Vitality is well-targeted with a fan-base made up of two-thirds' over 45s. The deal is currently in its first year of four, but the brand had been an official partner for two years previous to this. They also have a deal with test captain Joe Root.
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- Looking more broadly at team sponsorship portfolios we can see the way that the different cricket markets influence the sponsorship proposition. IPL team deals are dominated mass market consumer facing sectors, including telecommunications which reflects India's position as the fastest-growing smart phone market in the world. Convenience FMCG dominate the IPL teams industry breakdown.
- In England, professional services and b2b brands are the most prolific. This speaks to a more mature market with brands targeting the older, wealthier cricket fans, also leveraging their sponsorships for hospitality rights.
- The construction industry has substantial presence in both countries, however, focusing on sub-sectors will present a difference here. The Indian market is populated with cement manufacturers in a country undergoing major infrastructural development whereas regional house-builders and engineering firms look to county cricket to appeal to smaller local clientele.
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