Interview with Fraser Castellino, COO of Kings XI Punjab: Believe in engaging with fans

Fraser Castellino, COO of Kings XI Punjab

Fraser Castellino, COO of Kings XI Punjab

Fraser Castellino is the Chief Operating Officer at Kings XI Punjab, one of the eight competing franchisees promoted by the Indian Premier League.

Fraser has over a decade’s experience of working in the sports industry. Besides leadership roles in IPL teams like Rajasthan Royals and Royal Challengers Bangalore, he has also been instrumental in setting up and reviewing the Sahara Group’s polo and other non- cricketing ventures. In his role as COO at Kings XI Punjab, he will be responsible for setting the vision, execution of marketing plans, cross functional team leadership and financial planning for the team in order to strengthen the franchise and enhancing the Kings XI brand.

Fraser is a marketing graduate from Mumbai who loves to travel and listen to all genres of music. He is most happy spending time with his labrador Joey and in his free time enjoys a good nap!

Fraser spoke to The Sports Mirror in an exclusive interview.

Here are the excerpts:

What’s the hardest thing about being a COO of Kings XI Punjab?

My personal journey at Kings XI Punjab has been extremely fulfilling. Having been a part of the IPL since its inception, I understand the sport and tournament well. I joined KXIP with a clear mandate from the Owners to take decisions that would steer the franchise to become profitable and a team to reckon with.

Every franchise has its own set of challenges and opportunities but what excites me the most here at KXIP is the enthusiasm, dedication and resilience showcased by the entire team. Everyone from the players, support staff, management team to the Promoters, have been extremely approachable, warm and open to suggestions. They have shown immense confidence and faith in me to constantly innovate and improve the ways of conducting business with our partners.

Were there any challenges early on in the first few seasons in terms of brand building and perception with KXIP not doing well on the field?

Although I haven’t been associated with KXIP since the beginning, I have been a part of the IPL since its first season. Initially the business of sports was new to India because the IPL was a new concept in the country. The IPL franchises took some time to learn, as the Indian market is different and has subtle nuances as compared to the West. But over the last few years, many franchises run profitable business including Kings XI Punjab. A loyal fan following is critical for financial success as fans drive sponsorship and match ticket revenue which are the two critical factors in operating a team.

Kings XI Punjab since the beginning has been fortunate to have a loyal fan base and KXIP has worked hard towards strengthening the brand that is Kings XI Punjab. Simultaneously, the team’s great performance in the recent season has definitely added to the excitement and enthusiasm amongst the fans.

A very good season for Kings XI Punjab in IPL Season 7 and CLT20 2014. What is your game plan for revenue growth in the coming season?

The team performed phenomenally well in the IPL Season 7 and CLT20 and this performance has also contributed to off-field benefits. During IPL Season 7 we had 14 sponsors on board and for Champions League Twenty20 we additionally signed on 4 new sponsors. We have indeed been fortunate to have great brands associated with us who want to continue the association into future seasons.

In terms of local revenue, is your ticket revenue more now as compared to first few seasons?

We are glad that we have a loyal fan base that has been extremely supportive right from the first season leading to a great turnout at the stadiums. However given the team’s exceptional performance in last season; the ticket revenue has significantly increased. Even while we played in UAE in IPL Season 7, every stadium KXIP played at was completely sold out and our team was embraced and welcomed by everyone, Emiratis and expats fans included.

Where does the franchise stand in terms of sponsorships?

The team had 14 sponsors during IPL 7 and 10 for CL T20. We intend to carry this momentum in the upcoming seasons as well and associate ourselves with companies that share the same youthful and fresh energy that Kings XI Punjab stand for.

What are Kings XI Punjab‘s marketing and CSR efforts this year?

We are a community team and believe in consistently engaging with our fans, both online and offline. We constantly undertake marketing initiatives and will speak about them as and when we launch our new campaigns. Being a community driven team, we supported World Immunization Week, celebrated International Literacy day, took 100’s of under-privileged children to watch our matches at the stadiums along with engaging in interactive sessions with celebrity Chef Vikas Khanna and the children at Smile Foundation. Through our association with Smile Foundation we endeavor to work in the areas of girl child education and drug abuse. Moreover, we’ve organized various events in order to enhance awareness and raise funds in order to positively impact the lives of the beneficiaries and will continue to do so in the future.

Has the licensing and merchandising area grown?

Yes it has indeed grown over the years thanks to the wonderful performance by the team as well as new and innovative marketing strategies implemented by the franchise. Through our merchandise sales we increase opportunities to further strengthen our bond with our fan base. Every year we work towards new memorabilia to keep up with the excitement and enthusiasm of our fans.

How difficult do you think it will be to inspire the loyalty of fans for KXIP?

Kings XI Punjab has enjoyed a good fan base since the very beginning of IPL and their loyalty has only increased with each passing year. Our online presence has also strengthened and we have observed a staggering 418% growth on Facebook, 61% on Twitter and 561% on YouTube. All this has been possible by the brilliant on field performance by the team.

Anything special you want to say to the KXIP fans?

I would like to take this opportunity to thank our fans for supporting us through our highs and lows and hope to keep them entertained by playing some wonderful cricket. In addition to this, we would urge all our fans to support us in our endeavors to make the world a better place to live in one step at a time.

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