Korean managers of the Rs 16,000-crore LG Electronics, based in Greater Noida, routinely play nukkad cricket, baseball style, with their colleagues on the company’s premises. They do not understand the game but know that cricket is religion in India. That’s a fact that the company, one of the 10 on-ground sponsors of the 2011 World Cup, has come to realise. No wonder, it will spend close to Rs 100 crore on cricket-related activities this year.Rs 150 crore will come from ticket sales in the World Cup, Rs 700 crore from TV ads.The company’s association with the sport has not only boosted tv sales-at least 50-60 per cent during the cricket season-but also built stronger brand equity for India’s largest consumer durables manufacturer. LG isn’t alone. Any marketer, wanting a strong toehold in the subcontinent is targeting cricket, be it Reliance Communications, Hero Honda Motors, PepsiCo or even those companies which have earlier invested in the Indian Premier League (IPL). “When we up the ante on cricket, our brand scores show an upward swing,” says Anil Dua, senior vice-president (marketing and sales), Hero Honda Motors.And the stakes are just going up. Around Rs 1,500 crore will be spent on cricket-related activities on tv alone during the World Cup and IPL 4. Of this, Rs 700 crore will be spent on the World Cup, while Rs 800-900 crore will be riding on the IPL. Only half of this amount was spent during the last World Cup in 2007, when India crashed out ignominiously in the first round. Comparatively, advertisement volumes for IPL 2 grew 17 per cent over IPL1. IPL 3 saw a rise of 35 per cent since the inaugural IPL in 2007. Sponsors Hero Honda, LG and PepsiCo would be spending Rs 70-80 crore each, estimate agencies.advertisementHyundai, the official car partner of the 2011 World Cup, will spend Rs 200 crore on ICC-related events till 2015. Sony India is planning to spend Rs 100 crore this year. Reebok India is planning to hike its advertising spending by 25 per cent. Sixty per cent of its total marketing budget will be consumed by the cricketing season.Around 70 million Indian households will be watching the ICC World Cup 2011.Is IPL bigger than the World Cup when it comes to advertising revenue on tv? Samir Kale, managing director of CMCG, a sports marketing consultancy, thinks so. “It has three times the playing time of the World Cup and primetime viewership which makes it more attractive for advertisers.” While average tv advertising rates would be around Rs 1-1.5 lakh for a 10-second commercial, it could go up to Rs 3.5 lakh on broadcaster ESPN Star Sports during the World Cup. Compare that to Rs 5.5 lakh during IPL on Set Max. “IPL’s tv viewership could be much more than the World Cup that has only six guaranteed India matches in the first round of 42 matches, making advertising spend riskier,” says Hiren Pandit, managing partner, GroupM.That’s the reason why LG, despite being a ground sponsor, is not buying airtime on ESPN Star Sports. “If India doesn’t do well, or doesn’t make it to the quarter-finals, public interest will drop,” says L.K. Gupta, marketing head, LG India. IPL guarantees more bang for the buck. According to tam Media, the IPL has been generating average television ratings (TVR) of 4.2-4.7, with finals shooting up to as high as 10.5, while the 2007 World Cup had average TVRs of 2.1 with the finale touching only 4.5.For some sponsors, however, both are important. While the World Cup is all about nationalistic fervour, IPL is about being with it. So Hero Honda, which was one of the ground sponsors of IPL 3 and also sponsor of the Delhi Daredevils, is ICC’s global sponsor for World Cup too.