21 Nov 2017
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Kings XI Punjab expects this IPL to be better than debut profit last year

MUMBAI: Buoyed by its successful performance in the previous season of the Indian Premier League (IPL), Kings XI Punjab is expecting a sizeable jump in its local revenue streams.

Fraser_CastellinoSpeaking to TelevisionPost.com, Kings XI Punjab COO Fraser Castellino said, “Last year was tremendous for Kings XI Punjab and it gave the brand a big boost, both on and off the field. While the team performed brilliantly and set new records, we also earned profit of around Rs 14 crore (Rs 140 million) for the first time.

“Our performance made the sponsors see increased value and visibility, which has translated into monetary value. We have experienced a hike of 30–35 per cent in local revenue and expect it to further increase as time and the tournament progresses.”

Sponsorship plan

kings x1 panjabKings XI Punjab has Tata Motors Prima as the title sponsor for the upcoming season. A few other old sponsors have re-signed with the franchise.

“This is an affirmation of the confidence that they have in our brand and franchise. Likewise, HTC and Britannia have re-signed with us, showing the same appreciation of our brand. In addition, we have Flying Machine, ACC, and Prayag, all previous sponsors who have expressed a strong desire to renew their association. We will also announce a few more sponsors who will be associating with us for the first time this year.”

Castellino went on to note that Kings XI Punjab is an energetic and youthful brand. “We believe in partnering companies that share the same synergy. We are fortunate to have collaborated with such like-minded associates.”

Over the years, both franchises and their partners have realised that on-ground activation is the key to success. Castellino noted that the marketing and branding team often comes up with innovative ideas to include partners in the campaigns that the franchise runs during the season. “Be it digital or offline, our association is often highlighted through various marketing initiatives KXIP undertakes from time to time.”

So what can one expect this year? “This year the Tata Motors Prima fan, The HTC digital initiatives, Britannia’s Happy Singh association and several new activations like ‘You vs Star’, KXIP Cheer Squad, Google ‘Fan of the Match’ and several other such initiatives will be done during season,” explained Castellino.

Building up to the new season

Castellino noted that true to its home culture, Punjabis are full of life and enthusiasm. While on field the squad entertains fans with a good brand of cricket, the franchise also has live shows and performances in between match breaks to keep the spirits of the audience up.

“We have initiated a digital and on-ground activation called ‘Play for Kings’, where winners will get the chance to participate in the Kings Cup and a bowl-out session with their favourite players. In order to engage with our catchment area, Kings XI Punjab is the official sporting partners for the ‘Big Chandigarh Marathon’ to raise awareness about girl education, drug abuse, and other social causes.

“Besides, we have launched a fan engagement programme, ‘Pride of Lions’, where fans can engage on various digital platforms and earn loyalty points which they can redeem for a host of KXIP memorabilia, match tickets, merchandise, and a host of such wonderful offers.”

Controversies

Castellino concedes that every sport has challenges. While the betting scam might have driven IPL into a turbulent phase, cricket as a sport is much bigger than these controversies. “While certain issues cannot be controlled, the sportsmanship among players and the fans across also continues on the side. The undefeatable spirit of the game doesn’t let such incidents mar the reputation of the game,” he said with optimism.

What makes him positive about the IPL’s future is that despite the controversies, his franchise will still see strong revenue growth. “Kings XI Punjab in IPL 8 observed a hike of close to 30 per cent in sponsorship from the previous year and bigger brands have associated with the franchise. I believe that if one franchise can register profits and experience hikes in such a scenario, then it will be safe to say that the IPL too can sail through these times and prosper while entertaining fans with a good brand of cricket.”

The ticketing, in-stadia scene

This year Kings XI Punjab will be reaching out to Punjab fans in Pune where it will be playing three home games in addition to the home stadium in Mohali. “Ticket prices remain competitive, but we are proud to have enhanced our hospitality services with exciting deals with the Marriott and other concessionaires.

“Fans will be treated to an enhanced fan experience both in Pune and Mohali, where we have made elaborate arrangements to improve the fan engagement points in the stadium. Activations with BlippAR, photo booths, Bluetooth messaging, match updates through technology, predict the winner games, and several such exciting opportunities to engage will be launched throughout the season.”

Merchandising

MerchandiseCastellino noted that the franchise’s merchandising partners Sport & Beyond and Tyka Sports are very excited about the strong response to KXIP merchandise. “Both in India and abroad, we have launched interesting tie-ups with online destinations to sell our merchandise in the US, UK, and the rest of the world. Amazon India remains our top-selling Indian online partner. They have reported the highest sales of KXIP merchandise and already processed several advance orders for the season.”

In terms of new products, this year the franchise is expanding its T-shirt range to include the ‘Live Punjabi Play Punjabi’ theme. These quirky and cool T-shirts will be available across kids sizes and all genders. “Our merchandise partners have also shared plans around some innovative product categories which we are likely to launch this season,” he stated.

Online presence

According to Castellino, the franchise believes in keeping the communication channels open with its fans all year round. “The best space in which we can connect with our fans all over the world is through digital media. Through the website and our social channels, we break the geographical barriers and keep fans engaged throughout the year, especially off-season.

“We have undertaken numerous activities and campaigns on social platforms like Facebook, Twitter, Google+, YouTube, and Instagram, where we give our fans a chance to interact with the players and participate in contests and activities. For example, we did an Instagram Holi contest. Being viewer-friendly and easily accessible, our updated website has made the whole process easier and convenient for our fans.

“Additionally, we are working closely with the IPL to explore on-ground activations in international locations.”

The experience of working for three franchises

Castellino has worked with IPL franchises since the first edition of the cash rich Twenty20 extravaganza took place back in 2008. First, it was with the Rajasthan Royals which came out on top in the first year when Shane Warne was the captain. Then he went to work for Vijay Mallya’s Royal Challengers Bangalore. Now he is with Kings XI Punjab, which is owned by a consortium.

“Having been in the sports industry for quite some time, I have been fortunate to be associated with the IPL since its inception. The experience has given me insight into these brands’ business model, their brand values, and their approach towards the tournament.”

For him the Rajasthan Royals and the tournament will always remain special because it was the inaugural year and will always be a special memory. He further notes that working with the Royal Challengers Bangalore was a great learning experience.KOn the other hand, he said that the Punjab franchise has very supportive owners Preity Zinta, Ness Wadia, Mohit Burman, and Karan Paul who allow the coach and management team to make decisions that bring success on and off the field. “This freedom to make independent decisions is one of the most appreciable parts of this job.”

The IPL workshop

After the auction, a workshop for franchises and sponsors was held. “It was held after the auctions in Bengaluru. It was an interactive session covering a range of topics from commercials, marketing to operations and plans from our partners like Sony, Pepsi, and other central sponsors were discussed and deliberated upon,” Castellino stated.