A country where cricket is not just a game but a religion, it is difficult for any other game to gain popularity. India, ranked 133rd in the world, has never come close to qualifying for the World Cup, but that does not seem to have dampened fans' enthusiasm for the month-long tournament. With strong marketing campaigns and exhaustive buzz about it, the FIFA bug has bitten the Indian football followers and is now growing strong enough to plague a larger audience.
When FIFA and Adidas announced an extension of their partnership agreement granting Adidas the Official Partner, Supplier and Licensee rights for the FIFA World Cup 2014 and all FIFA events until 2030, one of the longest relationships in sports marketing history was set to unravel and also put into action a heavy wave of conversations happening among the brands of the world. This further triggered the sport brands to tap the opportunity as FIFA World Cup 2014 craze rises in India. The heat of the game between the brands for associations is on! But what takes away the glory from cricket for this particular month – the game, the marketing or the craze to be in the chase war, exchange4media tried to speculate the market delved in the fever.
“A lot of younger audience is hooked on to football because the quality of European Soccer and maybe the way broadcasters cover it is good. When the older generation was growing up, there was more relevant content related to cricket and that is why it was one of the glorified sports that time. As of now, high quality content is relayed live and thus younger generation is interested in keeping a tap on the buzz on FIFA,” says Vinit Karnik, National Director, Sports and Live Events, GroupM ESP.
The research titled, ‘Sports Wear Market in India’, anticipates that the current size of the Indian sportswear industry is worth $365.8 billion. Fans pick up the official jerseys for any given price. Also, with sportswear being blended with fashion, the demand for sportswear has increased to a huge level. Football also attracts car-makers, which further says that football is a promising game and has an increasing fan base in India. The Audi Football Summit is an example of such an association. Football-themed bars and cafes are symptoms of India's new sports infatuation.
The Brand Connect
Several brands of international acclaim fight the battle to associate themselves with FIFA every four years. Emirates Airlines offers a 2.9 per cent balance transfer offer on their credit cards for 12 months and provide premium air travel for players and fans. Hyundai Kia Motors takes care of the teams, the officials, members of the organizing committee, referees and the media on the ground; and Visa helps millions of fans travel to enjoy the World Cup and offer Visa cardholders the opportunity to be part of stadium tours, pre-match warm-ups and other exclusive experiences.
The India League
As football grows big in India, brands lose no chance to increase their association with the game. Whether it requires Bollywood celebrity as a brand ambassador or launching exclusive jerseys or elaborate TVCs and outdoor promotions, brands leave nothing to imagination in the football season. Brands like Pepsi and Airtel that associated themselves largely with cricket, also tapped the opportunity during the football season by roping in Ranbir Kapoor and A.R. Rehman for their respective campaigns.
FIFA and Adidas have been partners since 1970 and the commitment to FIFA World Cup enables extensive Adidas presence at the world’s most watched sports event until 2030. “Over the last 40 years, Adidas and FIFA have worked closely together to develop football worldwide. Therefore, it was a natural step for us to extend one of the most successful partnerships in the history of sports marketing. This unique partnership and our extensive presence at all FIFA World Cups will help us to expand Adidas’ position as the leading football brand worldwide,” said Herbert Hainer, CEO of the Adidas Group.
For the Brazil 2014 World Cup, FIFA and the local organising committee have sold sponsorship rights to 20 companies, including Coca-Cola, which are pumping a combined US $ 1.4 billion into it. Football is getting more attention than ever and youth is drawn towards it to a large extent. This gives huge opportunities to football merchandising, which is growing bigger, giving a chance for brands to connect with football lovers more intriguingly.
With inputs from Digital Market Asia