Korean phone maker Samsung, which last week sealed a deal with the Mukesh Ambani-owned IPL team Mumbai Indians (MI), could overshadow title sponsor Vivo in drawing mileage from the premier tournament through its association with the city that generates India’s biggest advertising revenues.
Two industry executives told ET that what Samsung has planned could effectively mean ‘ambushing’ the Chinese phone maker that had paid Rs 2,200 crore for sponsoring cricket’s biggest moneyspinner for five years. “Samsung has planned its sponsorship in a way that would ambush title sponsor Vivo in the upcoming IPL,” one of the executives said.
The MI deal, estimated to be worth about Rs 25 crore, involves Samsung branding to be displayed on the front of players’ jerseys, training jerseys, players’ dugouts, perimeter boards, and tickets.
Mumbai’s Wankhede stadium’s North stand will be called the Samsung North Stand and in stadia screens will play Samsung ads. Samsung would also leverage a raft of other branding slots.
A Samsung spokesperson confirmed the sponsorship, but declined to comment on queries about a potential ambush. Vivo didn’t respond to ET’s queries until the publication of this report.
According to Hong Kong-based industry tracker Counterpoint Research, Samsung was the second largest smartphone maker in India, with a 23% share in the October-December quarter and Chinese brand Xiaomi leading the market with 25%. Lenovo-Motorola, Vivo and Oppo are tied in the third spot with 6% shares each. Sales data for the January to March quarter are yet to be released.
Counterpoint Research said Chinese brands such as Xiaomi (259%), iTel (213%), Huawei (165%), Vivo (115%) and Oppo (104%) were the fastest growing smartphone makers during the last calendar year. Together, the Chinese brands had captured 54% share of the Indian smartphone market last year, up from 34% in 2016.
Industry watchers said the Samsung strategy amounts to veiled ambush tactics.
“Both Samsung and Vivo have a lineup of new products and are competing strategically on pricing and products for visibility and one-upmanship. As a highstakes tournament with multiple teams, IPL gives the brands an opportunity to claim that visibility — more so with international cricket taking a back seat over the next two months,” said Prathish Nair, marketing consultant at Transcend Brand Consulting.