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ISMF 2009: Is there life beyond cricket?

ISMF 2009: Is there life beyond cricket?

Author | Robin Thomas | Saturday, Oct 31,2009 8:10 AM

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ISMF 2009: Is there life beyond cricket?

The second edition of the India Sports Marketing Forum (ISMF) took place in the Capital on October 30, 2009. The exchaneg4media Group event was held in association with T10 Gully Cricket and powered by TAM Sports. The day-long event saw members from different domains of the Indian sports marketing fraternity deliberate on various issues – beginning from ground realities that impact sportsmen and interest in various sports in India, to the growth of sports as a platform that marketers can use to engage with their consumer target groups.

The Forum began with an address by Anurag Batra, Chairman and Editor-in-Chief, exchange4media Group, who said that sports was defined by passion and performance, and the third aspect was return on investment (ROI). He said, “Sports is still nascent in India, and if you take out the monies that are invested in cricket, the monies spent is miniscule.” Batra added that the most important people in this equation were the sportspeople, and that the 2010 Commonwealth Games presented a great opportunity to create icons for many people. “Sportspeople deserve a better deal and we can provide a bridge to sportspeople to link up with the other stakeholders at this Forum, where we hope entrepreneurs can come together to create a sports culture in India,” he added.

Batra’s address was followed by an address by HP Singh, a sports enthusiast, who noted that speaking to the given audience on sports was like teaching the Bible to the Pope. He said, “A concept nonetheless that I borrow from CK Prahlad is that fortune is at the bottom of the pyramid (BOP) and India’s sports BOP is very huge and needs to be nurtured. Sports marketers and corporates need to invest in this BOP, and then the ROI is huge.”

Singh asserted that to grow sports, it had to be inculcated as a habit, like a newspaper, at the school level itself. “The person who forgets the past, forfeits the future, and people who succeed in life are the ones who take the initiatives,” he concluded.

The duo set the tone for the day when names such as Richard Brinkman of TNS Sports, LV Krishnan of TAM Media Research, Shailendra Singh of Percept Holding Company, MSM’s Rohit Gupta, DNA’s Ayaz Memon; Kings XI Punjab’s Anil Srivatsa, HP’s Shubhodip Pal, Wrigley’s Himanshu Khanna, and Charu Sharma, among many others, expressed their views and discussed issues related to sports marketing in various sessions throughout the day.

Some of the points that emerged from the discussions in the course of the day were that innovation and reformatting a sport was a must to retain the audience. Many experts raised the questions on the distribution of investment on sports and the age old debate of how much of the money spent by the government was being spent on sports and on sportspersons. Many said that the focus also needed to be on training sportspeople and making them ready for the Commonwealth Games ahead.

The importance of taking sports to the grassroot level was reiterated because good talent needed to be nurtured, and this meant that activation needed to be done at the school level itself. More local heroes were needed from across sporting segments to grow sports beyond cricket in India. Yet another interesting point that came through was that new technologies, such as the launch of 3G, would drive Indian sports, and it was important for the various stakeholders to take note of these and be placed well to utilise them when the time was right. In all, the ISMF 2009 deliberated on every issue that would impact sports as a property in India, and what could be done in order to best leverage this medium.

‘Not just branding CWG, but branding India’
exchange4media Group’s Chief Editor, Pradyuman Maheshwari, engaged Uday Sahay, Additional Director General, Communications, who looks after the Brand and Communication for the Commonwealth Games 2010, in a conversation on what could be expected on these counts from the CWG. The Delhi Government has already invested Rs 63,000 crore in the forthcoming Games and the pertinent question was when one would begin to see sponsorship marketing activities around the Games.

Sahay begun by saying that the foremost task at present was to market and brand the Games, and the catch was that it was, in a way, branding a sixth sense. He said, “It is a different kind of task; branding of the Games that are not branded in the true sense of the term. And we are talking about branding Delhi as a city, and India as a whole.”

He further said that two months from now, action on sponsorship promotions would have begun. He also laid down the challenges ahead and said, “There is a brand called CW Games and brand around the leadership of the Games. As the deadline nears, the sponsorship promotions would commence, however, the situation is not so good as of now.” He informed that while on the broadcasting rights front much was taken care of, on the sponsorship front, there was a long way to go.”

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