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Coca-Cola targets IPL team rights in Indian cricket spree

Coca-Cola India is “aggressively pursuing” multiple deals with Indian Premier League teams before the start of IPL 12 at the end of March, SportBusiness Sponsorship has learned.

According to Prashant Singh, general manager of the Octagon India agency, Coca-Cola is close to signing with a number of teams, with a likely focus on the most successful, big-city franchises: the Mumbai Indians, Chennai Super Kings, Royal Chargers Bangalore and Kolkata Knight Raiders.

Adding big-city teams to Coca-Cola’s existing cricket sponsorship portfolio would all but shut out rival coke brand Pepsi, and other challengers, from Indian cricket.

Pepsi held the title rights to the IPL in a five-year deal from 2013 to 2017, but bowed out mid-contract after match-fixing scandals involving the Chennai and Rajasthan franchises.

Singh told SportBusiness Sponsorship: “As far as Pepsi is concerned, after their exit from IPL title rights, they have stayed away from IPL team sponsorships and associations and continue on the same strategy for the upcoming season.

“Pepsi exited the IPL contract for multiple of reasons, the primary one being the betting and fixing scandal. But secondly, the return on their investment wasn’t justifying the combined spends on IPL sponsorship and broadcast advertising rights.”

Coca-Cola India has filled the gap left by Pepsi in the soft drinks category.

Indian media sources have reported that Coca-Cola has committed around $75m (€66.5m) to cricket deals targeted at the India and the Indian sub-continent.

As reported in SportBusiness Sponsorship in January, about $45m is committed towards the five-year global partnership with the International Cricket Council for the Exclusive Non-Alcoholic Beverage Partner rights.

A further $20m is committed to IPL 2019 broadcast sponsorships on Indian pay-TV network Star Sports, aimed at promoting the Coca-Cola and Thumbs Up brands.

Coca-Cola is also planning to invest heavily in broadcast sponsorship for the ICC World Cup in May and June.