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Tuesday, March 30, 2010

ESPN Star Sports is betting big on its agressive marketing strategies. But will the payback be worth the pain?

Pawan Chabra bowls hard at the re-branded batsmen...

First came the change in logo. Then a change in programming happened. And now, after much ado about re-branding, ESPN Star Sports (ESS) has set the Indian towns bustling with its marketing acts, as Nirmal Dayani, Senior Director – Marketing, ESPN India puts it, “ESPN Star Sports has undergone a lot more than just rebranding, as we not only changed our logo, but the programming and graphics as well. So now, when the consumer is looking at a whole new channel, we are undertaking 360-degree marketing tasks.” An on-field evaluation also clearly suggests how the company has come up with aggressive media campaigns, for its long line-up of tournaments – the erstwhile Champions Trophy 2009, Champions league 2009, Formula One Grand Prix, Barclays Premier League et al. Media experts suggest that the company has sidelined a massive Rs.100 crore for its media strategy. So while on one end you’d expect to run into ESS hoardings and billboards, being hit by witty radio jockey dialogues and gazing at the 30-second flicks on the idiot-box, on the other, the truth is that the capital earmarked is not simply for pure advertising purposes. Even Dayani confirms that as he avers, “A larger chunk of the planned media investment will be used for developing the Champions League format, as it is relatively new for the viewer and will take some time to gain momentum.” So there goes the tale – a fresh new sports channel, with fresh content and logo. But there’s the rub, a fundamental question mark rather – was rebranding even required in the first place?

An aggressive Dayani shoots back: “There is always a scope for improvement and the ‘new look’ channel will definitely offer some new experience to the Indian consumers...” He also quickly doubles up and mentions that “If Tiger Woods can reinvent his swing after winning so many tournaments, there is ample scope for the channel to improve too.” More importantly, the company has chosen the busiest of periods to rebrand itself. Of course, while timing it during the onset of a season filled with tournaments – which, of course attract guaranteed footfalls, eyeballs, sportstars and most importantly brands – is ideal, the festive season will make it a more fruitful investment as Manu Sawhney, Managing Director, ESS asserts, “With so many exciting sports properties currently being broadcasted on our channels, the new branding for ESS and the refreshed on-air presentations for the brand will enthuse and exhilarate sports fans and continue our strong and enduring association with them.” Surely, sports is a visual spectacle and ESS’ on-air packages aim to enhance this experience by communicating in the well-synchronised, dynamic and energetic language of sports, while the channel brands promise to reach viewers across all demographies.

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Source : IIPM Editorial, 2010.

An Initiative of IIPM, Malay Chaudhuri and Arindam chaudhuri (Renowned Management Guru and Economist).

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1 comment:

Anonymous said...

English tongue isn't my main language, yet I can recognize it using the google translator. Excellent article, keep these things coming! Cheers!