Partnership with MI helped DHL expand TG & become a household brand: Sandeep Juneja

The brand’s marketing head explains why it chose to continue its partnership with Mumbai Indians.

MUMBAI: The sports sponsorship market is booming. Never before has more money been pumped into marketing sporting events, athletes and sports teams- globally as well as in India. According to a recent Nielsen study, sports sponsorships were up by 107 per cent in 2021, even as sponsorships drove an average of 10 per cent lift in purchase intent among the fan base. Today, aided by accelerated digitalisation, sports sponsorship offers brands entirely new opportunities than a few years ago, that’s especially attractive. And when it comes to sporting properties in India, it goes without saying that the Indian Premier League (IPL) is indisputably the mother of them all!

For the second consecutive year DHL Express India, one of the leading players in logistics, parcel delivery, e-commerce shipping and international supply chain management is the principal sponsor and official logistics partner of Mumbai Indians (MI). The deliverables entailed in the partnership are indicative of the brand’s 360-degree approach. While the brand logo can be prominently seen on the back of the players’ jerseys, DHL branding is visible in the player dugout banners, stadium concourse, outdoor, as well as digital and print ads of the MI team and all its official stationery. And that includes the right to present the coin toss in one home match!

As DHL Express (DHLE) India, enters its second year of partnership with Mumbai Indians, had an exclusive interaction with DHLE India VP of sales and marketing Sandeep Juneja to try and understand the background and rationale behind the continued association. Having joined DHLE in 2004, Juneja worked his way up in the organisation, taking on the mantle of VP- sales & marketing in October 2013. He has played a key role in driving the sales and marketing strategies, especially in the new normal.

Juneja also shares insights into the value and ROI that DHLE gained basis the partnership as well as the campaigns it has planned to further leverage the collaboration. Despite its bad run at the IPL this year the MI team remains one of the crowd favourites. The brand recently released its latest ad film featuring the MI players titled ‘DHL #TheTeamBehindTheTeam for Mumbai Indians – 2022.’

Edited excerpts:

On the value/ROI that DHLE gained basis its partnership with Mumbai Indians in 2021

2021 was a bit different for the Indian Premier League. While it started with an in-stadia audience, the second wave of Covid-19 put a halt to the game, moving it to the later part of the year. However, for DHL Express India, it still ended up being a fruitful association with the team. As per Broadcast Audience Research Council (Barc) India data, while the tournament’s reach (live matches on TV) in India was 405 million, matches featuring Mumbai Indians were watched by 306.5 million households. In fact, the buzz on social media around the team also saw an 18 per cent growth over 2020.  All this data only strengthens our belief in Mumbai Indians and this partnership. In fact, the presence of DHL’s logo on the back of the jersey positions us as the team behind the team and we have enjoyed great brand visibility with this association.

On the background and rationale behind the long-term partnership with IPL & Mumbai Indians

DHL, globally, over the years, has supported some of the world’s largest and most popular sports formats – from football to rugby, Formula One and even e-sports. Collaborating with prominent events helps brands, such as ours, to generate leads, and build customer loyalty and credibility. Cricket is a game that is well-loved and followed with ardent devotion in India, and many nations across the world. If you talk about the Indian Premier League, it is a festival in this country. The league has been able to successfully bring together sports and entertainment, making it an event for everyone, regardless of age or gender. IPL brings countries together and gets them all on one single platform.

Even within the IPL, it was essential for us to partner with a team that shares similar values. For DHL Express, the partnership with Mumbai Indians demonstrates our support for sports given the shared spirit of speed, passion, teamwork, and a can-do attitude. Mumbai Indians has proved its mettle in the game. If one has to go with pure data, they tick all the boxes: five-time champion, most popular team in IPL, highest social media buzz generator during the game, and many more. Mumbai Indians demonstrates “Excellence: Simply Delivered,” which is in sync with our mission. Therefore, we are glad to be the principal sponsor and official logistics partner for Mumbai Indians for the second consecutive year.    

Sports sponsorships, like the one with Mumbai Indians, gives us an opportunity to widen our canvas and expand our target audience. It helps us build brand awareness and equity with not only a more varied target group but also reconnect with our customers and stakeholders through multiple touchpoints, a necessity in a post-pandemic world. Through this partnership, we hope to better connect with our customers and reach out to a wider customer base.  

On how does the brand aim to strengthen its bond with its TG through this association

The viewership data for IPL suggests that the tournament cuts across sections, gender, geography and age groups. It is a great platform to reach out to people, primarily in the age group of 25-35, especially from tier I and II cities. This partnership with Mumbai Indians has helped DHL expand its target group and become a household brand. This season, we are looking forward to amplifying our MI partnership through a carefully curated and immersive 360-degree campaign with a focus on digital.

With our various digital activations, we created multiple touchpoints, thus giving us an opportunity to have instant and engaging conversations with our audiences across gender, geography, and age groups. We have introduced an all-new brand film featuring the crowd favourite Mumbai Indians players, to establish ourselves as the team behind the five-time league champions, as well as our customers. In fact, our digital video on #TheTeamBehindTheTeam trended number two in the first hour of it being activated on Twitter. Also, via our several social media fan contests and campaigns like Six for a Cause, DHL Match Ke Stars, the interaction with both the MI players and fans were much more authentic. We were able to tap into a new set of customers and build a greater connection with our existing customers via this crowd favorite game.

On the strategy and activations planned to further leverage this collaboration

With the traditional and digital worlds merging, it is vital for brands to leverage new technology and utilise digital platforms to develop engagement like never before. After a fruitful partnership last year, this season, we aim to amplify the association via a 360-degree marketing approach. Through digital, social, radio, print, and outdoor mediums, we will take our activations to the next level. We have leveraged all these mediums to ensure our visibility on and off the field.

Given that people are stepping out of their homes again, we have focused on outdoor advertising as well. This will include personalised branding on over 50 DHL vans, outdoor ads & radio spots. We are working on creating interactive content to engage with our target audience on social media.

We will also engage with Mumbai Indians fans as well as our current and potential customers via fan contests on social media like 'DHL Match Ke Stars' and through our alpha campaign - 'Six for a Cause.' The campaign will showcase Mumbai Indians players holding interactive sessions with the blind cricket team. We will also donate Rs 20,000 for every six that a MI player hits during their game. The proceeds of this will go to Samarthanam Trust for the Disabled which supports blind cricketers.

The focus for any brand that wants to build and retain its market position should be put on continuous user engagement, via digital touchpoints such as search engine marketing, snackable digital content, online knowledge sharing and round-the-clock availability of sales executives. We employ a 360-degree marketing mix to build stronger customer relationships. Be it television, radio, online or print, we try to ensure our brand visibility across media channels. We believe in leveraging all these channels throughout the year.

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