Session 2 of the India Sports Marketing Forum 2008 (ISMF), held in the Capital on September 12 by the exchange4media Group, was chaired by Sonali Chander, Sports Editor, NDTV 24x7. The session took a look at issues from the stakeholders’ perspective. ISMF 2008 was held in association with India Sports Equity Foundation. The ISMF was presented by Indian Cricket League (ICL) in association with e-sense.
The panelists included Punitha Arumugam, CEO, Madison Media Group; Brandon DeSouza, President, Tiger Sports Marketing; Mansoor Siddique, Director-Integrated Marketing, Coca-Cola India; Gaurav Seth, CEO, Vyas Gianetti Sport; V Ramachandran, Director-Marketing, LG Electronics; and Anil B Singh, CEO, Procam International.
Ramachandran said, “ROI is important and critical and does not come purely by associating with sport. With golf, we tried to do something different compared to what others have done for cricket. We at LG tried to target and engage a different set of consumer group.”
According to Seth, “Sponsors have realised that the business objective can justify the ROI. Sponsors are looking for visibility. This is how sports marketing is happening in the country, and currently, niche sports is in consideration such as football, which is popular in Punjab, Goa, Kerala and Kolkata. If India has to be a sporting nation, it must take time to go to the grassroots. We need to start from our homes itself, we have to encourage our kids to participate in sports.”
DeSouza said, “I am quite optimistic about sports in India. Ten Sports has created a lot of awareness of golf in this country. I believe that each sport needs to look after itself and each of us has a role to play, rather than play the blame game. Golf is already showing some results in India, and it’s time that other sports take cue from it.”
Arumugam pointed out, “To say that advertisers are available only for cricket would be wrong. Cricket definitely is getting a lot of money and mileage and is getting a little too profitable in this country. Cricket does work for some brands, but for some it does not. Cricket sponsors are there only for the money and not passion, which is extremely essential. But for golf, because clients believe in something, they want to achieve it. Today, cricket has become just another programme, rather than a sport.”
Citing the example of the Mumbai Marathon, Singh said, “A sponsor does and should have a different approach towards a sport. The Mumbai Marathon is now owned by the city and has become the fabric of the society. Television plays a crucial role and should be utilised to invest heavily in the game. The Mumbai Standard Chartered Marathon has now become the biggest platform for charity. Other sports need to take lessons from this and start marketing their sports. The Marathon has set an example.”
Singh further said, “There are no systems to build sports, and sports cannot be built by corporates, rather should be built by a privitised system or a national system. We need a system that works.”
Siddique said, “Marketers must go beyond celebrities. Most advertisements ride on the performance of the individual. When using a sportsperson for an advertisement, one must also associate with the sport rather than ride on the performance of that sportsperson alone.”