The Gaddafi Stadium, Lahore, re-lived its former glory days this September when after a wait of eight years, international cricket returned to Pakistan in the form of the UBL Independence Cup, organised by the PCB. It pitted a star-studded World XI team against the ‘boys in green’ and was held between the 12th and 15th of September, ending in a 2 to 1 victory for Pakistan; however, most people considered the return of international cricket to the country to be the far greater victory.
Staging an event of such magnitude required considerable funding. UBL became the title sponsor of the event and used its dominant social media presence (1.6 million fans on Facebook) to reach out to a large audience. Explaining the bank’s rationale, Ali Habib, Head of Corporate Affairs and Marketing, says “we are a responsible corporate citizen; we don’t view ourselves as merely a bank, but as an institution that has grown with Pakistan during the last 70 years.” Apart from digital, UBL also executed a print campaign to promote the event.
The UBL Independence Cup 2017 has re-established Pakistan’s standing in the world of international cricket and has opened the doors for more international cricket in the future.
The bank has a history of sport advocacy, primarily cricket. Formed in 1976, UBL has one of the most acclaimed cricket teams in Pakistan’s domestic circuit; 32 players have gone on to wear the national cap. Furthermore, UBL also has a well-equipped sports complex in Karachi, which is the venue of inter-school, inter-city and domestic cricket tournaments.
The media and marketing rights of the event were acquired by Blitz Advertising. In addition to broadcasting the matches on two channels – PTV Sports and Ten Sports – the agency used its portal www.cricketgateway.pk for live streaming all the matches. Digital and OOH were the main mediums used for promotion.
“The promotional campaign was designed to celebrate international cricket coming back home,” says Ahsen Idris, CE, Blitz Advertising. He went on to add that “Blitz was honoured to be a part of such an endeavour and hosting a comeback of international cricket along with managing the event advertising and ticket sales within time constraints, considering the forthcoming Eid-ul-Azha holidays, were major accomplishments.”
The success of the UBL Independence Cup can be gauged from the high audience engagement rates on digital, TV ratings and attendance at the stadium. The tickets (22,000 per match) could be ordered online on E-ticketing (PCB’s ticketing partner) or purchased at Bank of Punjab branches in Lahore.
The UBL Independence Cup 2017 has re-established Pakistan’s standing in the world of international cricket and has opened the doors for more international cricket in the future. Going forward, Habib says “UBL has a long-standing association with the nation’s favourite sport; the bank will continue to evaluate sponsorship opportunities for international cricket series.”