Cricket not only resides in the hearts of Indians, but also has high saleable value in the Indian market. Keeping the nuances and needs of the market scenario in mind, adidas is taking strategic steps towards choosing digital and social media to reach out to its consumers – existing and potential.
‘Fan’ning the fire
With the World Cup 2011 round the corner, the company is actively looking at digital as a strong tool to tap its target audience. Speaking to exchange4media, Tushar Goculdas, Director - Sales & Marketing, adidas India, said, “Cricket is an extremely popular sport in the country with a huge fan following. Social media, on the other hand, is fast becoming a platform where every individual has a presence. We believe social media platforms offer unique and exciting ways to engage our consumers. Given the immense popularity of Facebook, we created the ‘adidascricket’ fan page, where our fans have access to exclusive content on adidas and our athletes Sachin, Sehwag and Raina. We have received a tremendous response so far and ‘adidascricket’ has over 170,000 fans and growing.”
The company recently hired Red Digital to strengthen its position in the social media space. So, is the brand open to keeping aside a digital marketing budget? Goculdas replied, “Digital media is fast becoming an important tool for reaching out to our consumers. During the 2010 FIFA World Cup, we explored all forms of digital media, including online and mobile, and the results amongst our TG suggest that both tools were engagement led. We are certain that our future plans will feature digital media as a strong platform. However, it is completely based on the marketing strategy adapted to a particular product category.”
adidas now finds its name amongst the list of other marketers like Pizza Hut and S. Oliver, who have appointed a separate social media agency. Goculdas informed, “Isobar has been our digital agency for quite some time now. On the social media front, Red Digital has been successfully managing Dream11, an authentic cricket-oriented site, which has enabled us to drive similar passion for cricket through the adidas Fantasy Cricket League. Isobar works closely with Red Digital to execute all our plans. They are responsible for a number of exciting applications, content, contests and innovative activities on the ‘adidascricket’ fan page.”
Usually, the brands having presence on Facebook and other social networking websites map their success with one of the key visible attributes – the number of ‘fans’ or ‘followers’ that it has. When asked whether it increased sales in real time, Goculdas replied, “Our presence in the social media is to ensure interactive communication to engage with cricket fans and provide a platform where they can share the same passion as we do. Our page contains interesting games, live updates, trivia and now a Fantasy Cricket League – the first ever fantasy league on Facebook.”
“Initiatives such as these are taken to create resonance for adidas as the ultimate cricket and sportswear brand in the consumers’ mind-space, and sales is only a secondary context,” he insisted.
Discussing adidas’ digital marketing plans for 2011, he added, “The overall strategy is to position adidas as the ultimate sportswear brand. We instill the spirit of competition, but celebrate sports irrespective of the outcome. To successfully reach out to our audience, we will continue to build our presence in the social media space through unique endeavours.”
Mission World Cup ’11
Meanwhile, Red Digital is all geared up for the biggest cricket extravaganza next year – the ICC World Cup 2011. Speaking on the social media plans for the adidas, Yashraj Vakil, COO, Red Digital, said, “The campaigns that we plan to launch remain confidential due to the competitive nature of our business, but we are definitely planning some aggressive social activation before, during and after the World Cup. At present, we are keeping fans active with Adidas Fantasy Cricket, which has seen tremendous success. We are also encouraging fans to upload self-created pictures to get a chance to be featured as Adidas Cricket’s profile picture with due credit. However, the biggest thing that we are doing on adidas Cricket is called Immortal World. adidas has multiple breathtaking still shots, which they captured during the creation of their latest TV commercial.”
Vakil further said that three of those TV commercial images had been used for a campaign with words that read ‘No ball should be wasted’, ‘I bowl my soul’ and ‘Sometimes I can fly’. And now, they are encouraging fans to come up with lines of their own to describe the other unreleased images. The best line will become a campaign with due credit given to the person who thought of it.
When asked about the popular trends around the Cricket World Cup being observed by the specialised agency, Vakil remarked, “The Cricket World Cup is probably an event fans and brands wait for. However, fan behavior, or rather participation, with regard to cricket, we believe, has changed drastically since the last World Cup that took place in India. Those were the times of the Saas-Bahu sagas, but now is the age of reality shows. Everybody wants to be a part of what’s happening on their favourite shows. Cricket is no different. Fans today no longer want passive viewing, they want to be actively engaged. They want to be a part of the action, they want to interact with their favourite cricketers, follow them on Twitter, know their views, be voiced, and last but not the least, be rewarded for their passion. This gave us the impetus to drive organic traffic by the hoards to adidas Cricket’s Facebook fan page and use Adidas Fantasy Cricket game as the weapon of choice.”
Red Digital is helping Isobar manage adidas Cricket’s entire social media presence. This involves a number of exciting applications, content, contests and innovative activities to build fans and visibility on Facebook before the Cricket World Cup in 2011. The latest adidas Cricket campaign that is currently on air was first launched on the adidascricket fan page with an invite going out to all its fans for an exclusive preview.
The responses and results of the promotional activities have been quite satisfying, according to the agency officials. “The response so far as been quite stupendous. We have added over 1.5 lakh fans in about two months. Sachin and Sehwag’s tweets don adidas Cricket’s Wall and fans go crazy for everything they have to say. We engage our fans with mechanisms such as picture quizzes, spot the ball challenges and jigsaw puzzles, which get a huge response and create tremendous virality. The response to Dream11.com’s Fantasy Cricket game that we ported to Facebook for adidas Cricket have also seen 3,000 people playing at any given point in time,” Vakil claimed.
“Testimony to our success has been the 600 per cent jump that adidas Cricket has witnessed in about two months due to consistent innovation and updates, which engage users in a proactive and effective manner,” he concluded.