The Indian Premier League also known as IPL, is a beloved televised sporting event most Indians look forward to religiously every year. Conducted between March and May, IPL gets a viewership of four times the amount of Super Bowl. The NFL championship game, the Super Bowl, is North America’s biggest televised sporting event. But peculiarly, other than their love for American football, there is something other-worldly that draws viewers to the live game, TV commercials. Super Bowl ads are an essential part of the event’s experience. It is estimated that approximately 25% of the game’s viewership focuses more on ads than the game itself, making the Super Bowl the most important day in the advertising industry. To most Indians, tuning into a channel with the sole purpose of watching ads might seem like dystopian behaviour. After all, it is the most irritating part of the TV-watching experience. Therefore, let’s explore what makes Super Bowl ads different, and how IPL can change and potentially leverage its greater audience to transform their ad time from an annoying appendage to the greatest advertising opportunity.

In the States, Super Bowl commercials are not merely ads, they are cultural phenomenons, that are destined to create waves through pop culture year after year. They are so popular that in fact during the months leading up to the event, there are even speculations about what the topics and brands for ads would be. But what makes the Super Bowl this influential? There are several factors, but undoubtedly the most impactful one is humour. Viewers expect Super Bowl ads to be vastly funnier than normal TVCs. Often, these ads follow a quirky narrative, almost on the line of absurdist, lending to the comic effect that captures the attention of millions of viewers. 

The “Micheal CeraVe” ad featured during the 2024 game was hailed as a masterpiece, just because it incorporated a funny twist and association with the actor Micheal Cera. Most Super Bowl ads, if done right, are emotional and insightful, making them more engaging. Doing this not only attracts new customers but also increases the brand’s recall giving it an edge in the market and momentarily hiking the sales. If brands can latch onto this increased word of mouth, they can ride out the wave of sales indefinitely just by ensuring that their relevance does not wear off.

In contrast to the glee that is Super Bowl ads, IPL ads are the most dreadful portion of the matches. IPL ads are famous for being nothing but cringeworthy celebrity endorsements full of obvious surrogate advertising. Whether it be cricketers dancing to promote a new phone, or eating “mouth freshener,” most commercials seem to have no relevance, narrative or insight to them. These ads designed to associate a product with excitement and a celebrity rather than USP, may not be as effective as the advertisers have believed. They might be influential for young viewers, who are gullible and think Virat Kohli promoting something makes it better. But to a seasoned viewer, who knows that Virat Kohli would never buy the product he is promoting, this type of advertising has no impact other than irritation.

The issue does not just seem to be with celebrity endorsements themselves, but rather more with the boring monotonous way in which they are executed. Super Bowl ads are known for incorporating celebrities as well, but the humour and absurdity in their tone execution make them memorable, much like the “Micheal CeraVe” example stated before. On the other hand, there is nothing quirky about IPL ads that distinguish them from non-IPL ads. This causes all the boring celebrity endorsements to blend into a big ball of nothingness with an unclear call to action.

One of the main differences between the Super Bowl and IPL is the time duration of the game. IPL spans over almost 2 months. Whereas the NFL season is stretched over 18 weeks, it is important to note that the Super Bowl is just the final event of the season, making it similar to the final IPL match. IPL ads are shown throughout the season, but Super Bowl ads are shown only on the day of the final match. Giving IPL advertising the advantage of time duration. But the biggest difference between the two is perhaps the cost of advertising itself. Brands shell out a ridiculous amount of 7 million USD (approximately 58 Crore INR) for a 30-second ad slot during the Super Bowl. 

On the other hand, a 10-second slot during IPL costs only 12-15 lakh Rupees. This would mean that a 30-second slot would cost 45 lakh INR (approximately 55000 USD) at most, making it exponentially more expensive to advertise on Super Bowl. This increased cost in a way ensures that only the best ads are televised making the event extremely exclusive. The lower cost of Indian televising gives the biggest edge to IPL as brands can expect a greater return on investment if their ads are successful. Although this might seem like a bleak thought as we know that the buying capacity of both Indian advertisers and consumers is a lot less than Americans, there is one thing that is worth reiterating, the amount of IPL viewers is significantly more than Super Bowl watchers, giving it another advantage.

In conclusion, the combination of lesser cost of televising, and greater viewership of IPL makes it a lucrative opportunity for brands to market their product effectively. But the success of this concept hinges on these ads being actually impactful, not just purposeless swill that is destined to end up in the landfill of unmemorable commercials. With proper planning, creation, and execution, IPL can become an event far more supreme than the Super Bowl in the eyes of the advertising industry.

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