Varun Sangani, a Twitter user, wrote to Rohit Sharma, skipper of India’s white-ball cricket team, on January 19th, stating, “need your help on perfecting my pull shot. Not able to generate power when I am trying to control it.”
Sharma tagged his squad and responded in an ominous fashion: “Don’t worry… if the bowler pitches it short, just slice it.”
If you enjoy watching cricket, you’ll know that the phrase “just slice it” isn’t often given by coaches when it comes to refining the pull shot.
So, what was Rohit Sharma implying?
It didn’t take us time to figure it out. Only a day later, on January 20th, the Mumbai Indians revealed a new title sponsor for the 2022 season – the Bengaluru-based fintech business Slice. Millions of IPL viewers will now see the words “Slice” etched in big on the team’s jersey. They will also most likely see Slice advertisements starring Mumbai Indians players. The three-year contract is worth approximately Rs. 90 crores. It is also the biggest sponsorship contract in the IPL’s 15-year period.
But why is a 7-year-old startup putting so much money on an IPL team?
For a variety of reasons. Slice reportedly raised $220 million and is now a unicorn – a company valued at more than a billion dollars. Sports sponsorships, on the other extreme, are what all the popular kids are pursuing. In 2021, eight of the top twenty most valued venture-backed companies have either struck sports deals or promised to invest in media initiatives. Take, for example, the Italian football league. Pirelli, who had been a trademark on the jerseys of Serie A winners Inter Milan for over 25 years, opened doors last year for crypto exchange Socios.com, last year. In the United States, the Staples Center, which housed the NBA’s Los Angeles Lakers for 20 years, has been changed to Crypto.com Arena. 9 of the top 20 English football teams have collaborations with startups.
The old economy is being replaced by the new.
And at the heart of it all is the sporting community. Emerging companies have the chance to interact with a highly engaged community. One Australian research attempted to measure this allegiance. They likened sports enthusiasts to those who enjoy performing arts. And here’s what they discovered: More people attend live artistic events in person. However, opposed to 8.5% of the performing arts audience, 22.2% of all sporting enthusiasts attended six or more events in a year.
It indicates that sports enthusiasts are particularly devoted to their team. They will always attend, no matter what. This devotion leads to more monetization potential. Especially if it’s a sponsorship deal.
“Sponsoring a football team generates an instantaneous emotional relationship with the company,” says Andreas Kitzing, CEO and creator of sports sponsorship platform Sponsoo.
The Indian Premier League (IPL) is the most important sporting event in India. Nothing attracts more attention. It may be TV, OTT streaming, YouTube series, or something else entirely. The IPL is the sole determinant. People watched 400 billion minutes of cricket during the 2020 edition. And those under the age of 30 account for over half of IPL watching.
Apart from that, people from all backgrounds follow the IPL. High-income earners, low-income earners, rural and urban residents — everyone. And there is a huge potential for Slice, a company that bills itself as a credit card rival. The company has partnered with the State Bank of Mauritius and is now offering cards that function similarly to the prevalent Buy Now Pay Later apps. The main distinction is that they are currently the third-largest credit-based card issuer in the country, after HDFC and ICICI banks. Add some Mumbai Indians co-branded cards, and they may be on their way to the summit.
Will the return on investment (ROI), however, be worthwhile?
No one knows for certain. Startups in the hypergrowth phase are rarely concerned about ROIs. They’re willing to take the chance and pray for the best. Who can say, with global sports sponsorship set to increase from $57 billion in 2020 to over $90 billion by 2027? Perhaps Slice is an early adopter. Perhaps this is a harbinger of what’s to come.
Just like the Indian Cricket Team skipper, making decisions can confusing and complex at times. We get it – life is busy so we created Ditto to take one of the most important and time-consuming tasks off your plate. Book your call about health insurance or term life insurance in seconds and the advisors would get back to you at your convenience.