Indian brands on the Olympic brandwagon

| Updated on: Aug 11, 2016






In a nation where few sports beyond cricket get good viewership, why are advertisers sponsoring athletes and running special campaigns?

Never mind that the medal tally is not much to celebrate just yet. Despite that, the ongoing 2016 Rio Olympics have proved to be an occasion for many memorable firsts for the contingent representing India at the games.

For one, we sent our biggest contingent ever. One can’t help but wonder if this higher representation has led to an increase in viewership amongst a lot that otherwise doesn’t see beyond any sport but one: cricket.

It’s too early to say, for no data on the Olympics-related TRP is available just yet. Having said this, it’s important to note that according to 2012 news reports on Olympics viewership statistics, a mere million followed the Olympics here, a paltry number compared to the billions that follow a minor cricket tournament. This was also a year in which India had sent its largest contingent up until then.

But these figures do not seem to have dampened the spirits of a few big brands such as Tata Salt, Amul, and Edelweiss that have this year sought to cash in on the so called ‘Olympic zeitgeist’ through Olympic-themed advertisements, some of which feature sportspersons participating in this year’s games.

Speaking on the Namak ke Waastey campaign Ogilvy One conceived for Tata Salt, Vikram Menon, President & Country Head, Ogilvy One India, was quoted in a press release saying: “A massive number of Indians do not support, or even know about the Olympians who represent India on the global platform. We all know our popular sportspersons’ names and their backgrounds, but how many of us really know our Olympians’ names, their sports, backgrounds, their challenges and difficulties?”

But what makes the Olympics a great opportunity for successful brand association? And what’s in it for the brands?

“Brands have to work harder today to differentiate themselves in the market and to stay top-of-mind for their consumers. Standing out has become more difficult than ever before. For many consumer-facing brands, an established and global platform like the Olympics is an effective association,” says Landor Associates’ Managing Director in India, Lulu Raghavan, who thinks the Olympics have remained an untapped opportunity up until now.

Think today, and tomorrow If done right, there are several advantages to be reaped from being linked to one of the major international multi-sporting events, by way of creating deeper engagement, according to her. “The Olympics are not just a three-week opportunity. It is at least a four-year association. Don’t think ‘today’. Think ‘today and tomorrow’. Through timely and well-planned promotions and endorsements, brands have a chance to conduct multiple effective interventions leading up to and during the event,” she adds.

The Olympics discussion has extended beyond print and TV. “Thanks to the Internet, the Olympic Games are a conversation starter on almost every digital platform today. What brands have to realise is that there lies massive potential to activate multiple touch points and to reach their audiences through various channels that have been under-utilised until now,” says Raghavan. For her, as India’s participation and performance in the Olympics increases, Indians are becoming more aware of it.

This is also supported by the rapid increase in traction that multi-sport events have gained in the last few years (with the introduction of the Pro-Kabaddi league, the Badminton League, the Indian Soccer League and others).

“Cricket, and by extension cricketers have overshadowed many other major sports in India. However, with endorsement from Bollywood celebrities, other sports are on the rise in the minds of Indians (for example, Abhishek Bachchan for kabaddi, Deepika Padukone for badminton),” Landor’s Raghavan adds.

India as a country is driven by success and achievement, believes Raghavan.

Connecting with millennials “The millennials in particular are constantly seeking inspiration from success stories in unexplored avenues. Many sportspersons participating in the Olympics this year come from extremely humble backgrounds and have been successful with little to no financial or infrastructural support. These achievements make for great inspirational stories for the young ambitious Indians of today.”

Sagar Boke, Head - Marketing, Tata Chemicals (Consumer Products Business), echoes this view. A press release quoted him as saying that the inspirational stories of Olympians such as Shiva Thapa, Babita Kumari and Avtar Singh (featured in Tata Salt’s campaign) would help rally support for them amidst Indian citizens.

“Fueled by social media, their stories have reached the masses adding to the increased interest in the Olympics,” says Raghavan. She adds that the Olympics are an opportunity to engage with consumers at moments of high emotion and give marketers avenues for creating unique connections.

Published on January 17, 2018

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