Why fantasy sports brands in India is roping in cricket celebrities as brand ambassadors?

The year 2019 has witnessed a heart-warming phase for all the Indian cricket fans and stars. Be it the Worldcup 2019 or IPL 2019, Indian cricket industry has captured the audience’s imagination, enthusiasm and interests in cricket throughout. With the rise of the Indian fantasy sports, the interest of the cricket fans has surpassed all records of engagement. A report published by KPMG and the Indian Federation of Sports Gaming (IFSG) estimates that the user base of fantasy gaming platforms crossed 70 million Indians in 2018. Participants in the nascent sport spent around $1.73 billion (Rs 11,880 crore) last year. Capitalising on the opportunity of India’s love for cricket, the fantasy cricket brands have up-scaled their fantasy sports business in the 2019 cricket season with the incorporation of brand ambassadors and new campaigns to set newer benchmarks. This is something the online cricket betting industry would love to do but cricket players have not wanted to become brand ambassadors for these companies. The appointed brand ambassadors have predominantly been fan-favourites and continue to be a huge part of the Indian cricket team. The reasons for incorporating them as the face of the brands are many. Firstly gauging the market for Indian fans, fantasy cricket brands strategically choose the face of the brand after analysing the targeted age-group. With that, the brand target the audience with the popular names from the Indian cricket team. For example, many Indian cricket fans believe Sourav Ganguly was the best Indian Captain ever and we can’t deny the fact under M.S Dhoni’s captaincy India won the Cricket Worldcup 2011 as well as Virat Kohli who is the current captain of the team across all formats has amazing youth fan-following. Secondly the brands deploy various promotional strategies to galvanise their fan-base. For example: the lucky user of the fantasy sports app are given a chance to meet the face of the brand or get a chance to team up and create a dream team with the face of the brand. Now the catch is Indian cricket fans are emotional and enthusiastic for Indian cricket and the players as well. So when such promotional deals come to pass, the cricket fans lap up the opportunity like bees to honey. Thirdly, considering the face of the brand, the audience retention increases on the fantasy cricket app. When the brands claim that the audiences’ favourite cricket star is playing online with the fans, more cricket fans spend more hours online which results in fantasy cricket business to go bullish in earning more profit. Understanding the business plan for the incorporation of brand ambassadors from the cricket community during the cricket season, we have picked a few brands to reveal what they aimed for after announcing the face of the brand: Dream11 which earlier launched with the face of MS Dhoni  for 2019  IPL season they have signed up seven cricket stars and have partnered with seven IPL franchise teams as part of their multi-channel marketing campaign during IPL. For in-stadium fan engagement in every IPL match, Dream11 has created an in-match quiz for fans called the Dream11 Game Changing Quiz. The winner along with a friend gets to enjoy the IPL Hospitality experience as an upgrade and in addition to this, the winner also will be handing over the trophy and cheque in the post-match presentation ceremony to the player who has been selected as the Dream11 GameChanger of the Match. Talking about the tie-ups and fan engagement, Dream11 chief marketing officer, said that , “they have come out with a holistic approach to our marketing campaign that comprises of brand advertising films along with product led content on several platforms. The newly signed cricket stars along with our deals with the IPL franchise teams means that we are bringing alive the IPL experience in a unique way for Dream11 fans.” The seven IPL teams are Mumbai Indians, Chennai Super Kings, Kolkata Knight Riders, Sunrisers Hyderabad, Delhi Capitals, Rajasthan Royals and Kings XI Punjab. In addition to MS Dhoni who is Dream11’s brand ambassador, the seven new cricketers signed up are Jasprit Bumrah, Rishabh Pant, Dinesh Karthik, AB de Villiers, Rashid Khan, Ajinkya Rahane and R Ashwin. My 11 circle has appointed Sourav Ganguly as the brand ambassador for My11Circle a fantasy cricket platform from Play Games 24×7 umbrella. According to the fantasy cricket platform, this introduction will bound to capture the attention of the millions of Indians, to whom cricket is a religion. Sourav Ganguly one of the great legends of the game with over 11,000 ODI runs to his merit and is till date one of the most successful Indian cricket captains. Play Games24x7 brand head Avik Das Kanungo quotes “We are very lucky to have Sourav as part of the My11Circle family. This game is about cricketing knowledge, passion and decision making. The app is looking at scaling up their presence with Sourav Ganguly who took Indian cricket to new heights. Every player on our app is like a cricket captain and picks his / her own cricket team and everyone knows that Sourav is the best when it comes to this. I am confident that our players will also look forward to this exciting journey with Sourav on My11Circle” During that time My11Circle was hosting international and domestic cricket matches to select from on their contest page. HalaPlay Technologies, the online daily fantasy sports platform in India, during the cricket season announced their brand ambassadors, Krunal and Hardik Pandya. The all-rounder brothers were officially representing the Daily Fantasy Sports platform going forward. HalaPlay co-founder, Prateek Anand says “In a cricket loving nation like India, fantasy sports have become a way of life, which is where we see our exponential growth. Having the Pandya brothers on board is the right fit. Their all-rounded talent and fresh energy resonates with the essence of HalaPlay, as we are a young company with a lot to offer. It is important for our audience to know that they can invest their time and money in a place where they will get legitimate results. That is why we have recently changed our product from a fixed fee to a zero platform fee model. Now HalaPlay users don’t have to pay any platform fee and this will give our gamers the winnings they deserve with the thrill of game play.” In addition to that HalaPlay was offering winnings up to Rs100 crore on their fantasy sports platform during the cricket season. Where players had the opportunity to win prize money, make their game potential and even more exciting. Fantain Sports, has announced the appointment of Indian cricketer Suresh Raina as its brand ambassador. The left-handed batsman became the face of the company across all its brand communication campaigns from March 2019, ahead of the IPL 2019  and ICC Cricket World Cup 2019. Fantain co-founder and CEO Anand Ramachandran said “Suresh Raina is a legend in his own right and we are delighted to be associated with him. His sheer talent, teamwork and energy have won several matches for India and CSK.  He always plays the game with a straight bat and this partnership is a perfect fit for us, as we build a platform based on trust and transparency. We wish Suresh the best of luck for this IPL and beyond.” With that Fantain planned to unveil its marketing campaign #GameHaathMein which is a call to every fan to become an active one by following his/her favourite sport on their mobiles. In addition the campaign will also target the vast customer base of BookMyShow, with a host of exciting free giveaways Mobile Premier League (MPL), India’s mobile esports platform, has signed Indian skipper Virat Kohli as their brand ambassador.  It was founded in 2018 by Sai Srinivas Kiran Garimella and Shubham Malhotra under Galactus Funware Technology. Towards the end of 2018, MPL received funding of 36.5 crores from venture capital company, Sequoia Capital. The company planned to make him part of the series of multi-channel marketing and promotional activities for the brand. Mobile Premier League CEO & co-founder Sai Srinivas Kiran,said “Virat is an inspiration to many Indians- young and old. His focus and dedication to developing his skills as a sportsperson and the never-say-die attitude he brings to everything that he does, has resonated well with fans around the world and with our brand. MPL believes that everyone can be a winner like Virat, and through our association with him, we hope to make mobile esports more accessible to people across the country.” With  that MPL too ensures that there is always something exciting for users to look forward to, with new games being added every week. The games are designed in such a way that anyone can compete and win. Credible brand ambassadors are able to offer many benefits, with the most important being the ability to give the brand a boost on social media, spread positive messages and influence consumer sales. In addition to that, it becomes most effective when they are able to provide customer service and act as spokespeople for the brand. As Indian fantasy sports brands have roped in cricketers as brand ambassadors during the cricket season we hope it has surpassed all records in terms of profit, traffic, engagement as well.