We have witnessed how the tricky and creative innovative branding methods from Rajasthan Royals (RR) have forced the Indian media platforms to spend a large chunk of their quality time and space to follow the developments in the team. Even the most reputed firms have been trapped in the fabricated events set by the branding firm behind the team to follow and discuss the developments. RR, though they are far behind in the fanbase and social media platforms followers compared with the top teams like Chennai Super Kings and Mumbai Indians, has succeeded in getting media attention on the team even on the day of the inaugural match of the tournament. Many believed that the management was angry and eventually sacked the social media team for a prank on the captain, Sanju Samson, but they were happier for what their digital team has done for them.

To be precise, the management would not relinquish their social media team on the outroar of fans and media over the latest prank created by RR as it is a mission accomplished for the management. For a sports franchise, a marketing team can be considered as the 12th man off the field. The teams have an embedded digital content production team with them and the content they are producing help them to gain visibility and brand promotion. In a tournament like IPL, the team management and players have many obligations rather than exhibiting a splendid performance on the field. The other interests would include satisfying the team sponsors and tournament sponsors by giving maximum publicity to the product advertising in the tournament.

Social Media Poster from RR Facebook Page

In the modern sports leagues, the teams are ready to cross the sporting moralities and rules to achieve the business target set by the sponsors. The players have become the most important marketing tool in these tournaments and they have to be brilliant materials to execute what the management demands them off the field. The players in the calibre of RR captain Sanju Samson and Indian international player Yuzvendra Chahal have no voice rather obey the directions of the branding agency to fulfil the detailed strategy conceived by the management to promote the brand.

In detail, the sports teams are following a player-centric plan for their digital content where the players themselves create content for the platform. Royals digital head, Stuart Cope said in an interview in 2020 that the player-centric approach has helped them to cut through into wider cricket fans who are actually not the fan of RR but the followers of the particular player. Though an IPL team has been formed from players from different countries, it helps them to get viewers from all these places.

Social Media Poster from Rajsthan Royals Facebook Page

The strategy and expectation from the RR management can be perceived from their digital activities in the last couple of years. They have roped in one of the leading digital marketing agencies in India, Interactive Avenues with the motto of increasing the visibility and interactions in the different social media platforms of RR, which has followers of around 9 million. In IPL 2021, RR has finished as the third team with the most engagement and they achieved it without entering the qualifiers of the league and without having a cricket superstar in their anvil. On the backdrop of the game, the number means good business for the team and sponsors even though the team was finished bottom in the point table.

IPL 2022 has opened big opportunities for marketers as it added two more franchises and increased the number of days of the tournament. The experts are predicting a 25% increase in ad spending this year compared with the Rs 3,000 core spent on the last edition. Lucknow and Ahmedabad jointly account for around 17% of the viewership of IPL 2021 and it would increase as they have their own teams this year.

Social Media Poster from Rajasthan Royals Facebook Page

If one still believes that the IPL is just cricket, he is living in an age before the invention of marketing-centric sports events. Cricket will only come after marketing and money-making in the top cricket league in India as its gene lies purely based on business. The teams are spending crores on developing their brand and corporates are waiting to introduce their products during the tournament. When considering the crores flowing as advertisement spent, cricket is just a performance on the stage created for one of the best business models India has seen.