Dennis Media Transasia, one of the world’s most diversified and vertically integrated publishing houses, is all set to launch the Indian edition of ‘Sports Illustrated’ on October 5, 2009. The monthly magazine is embarking on a 360-degree marketing campaign from October 5 onwards to support the launch.
The marketing budget has been pegged at Rs 50 lakh. The creatives for the TVC and online video banners have been done by Storyboard, whereas print ads, emailers and website banners will be done by in-house creatives. The 30-second TVC will be expanded to online media via online news (Web 2.0 enabled) websites. The soon-to-be-launched monthly magazine will heavily depend on social media for its online plans.
Apart from this, ‘Sports Illustrated’ has entered into an exclusive partnership with Reebok, wherein Reebok stores across the country will display ‘Sports Illustrated’ copies in 100 handpicked outlets. Reebok customers will also be offered exclusive subscriptions to the ‘Sports Illustrated’.
The first issue of the ‘Sports Illustrated’ India edition will feature all time great Top 20 cricketers with an aim to create a platform for discussion. The edit-ad ratio would be 75:25, as 75 per cent of the pages is said to be purely content.
On how ‘Sports Illustrated’ would be different others in the genre, Richard Downey, Publishing Director, Dennis Media Transasia, told exchange4media, “The fact is that we have the opportunity to use the knowledge and the experience of ‘Sports Illustrated’ US. Therefore, you can expect the writing/ content to be of the highest quality. In short, it is going to be the best sports magazine in India from day one. The edit-ad ratio will never go above 75: 25.”
Downey further said, “‘Sports Illustrated’ as a magazine is primarily an editorial vehicle, and my number one priority in India is to reproduce that. My team is entirely Indian and hence, 90 per cent of the content will be Indian. The focus will not be on cricket alone, we will have features on football, boxing, formula one, horse racing, golf and so on, in the launch issue. Cricket will certainly be important, but we are not just a cricket magazine.”
‘Sports Star’, ‘All Sports’, and ‘Cricket Today’ are some of the popular sports magazines in India today. What remains to be seen whether ‘Sports Illustrated’ can offer the Indian readers any differentiation in its content, especially in this age of the Internet, mobile and television, which offer sports fans instant updates, plus will it live up to its international reputation here in India.
Downey further said, “I don’t believe sports in India to be a niche hobby and, therefore, I don’t consider a sports magazine to be niche title. We see India as a dynamic and exciting market with huge potential and believe the launch will be a successful one. Editorially, I believe the content produced is better than I could have expected.”
What do media planners have to say
According to Rajneesh Chaturvedi, National Director, MEC Access, “Sports magazines in India are no doubt evolving, however, currently there are very few sports specialist magazines in India. ‘Sports Illustrated’ is surely a good brand, and with such brands entering the country, I believe it will only be good for the industry. Although, it is a niche magazine, due to the ongoing media fragmentation, it will help in targeting the niche audience better.”
Nikhil Rangnekar, Executive Director - West, Starcom India, observed, “Sports magazines as genre in India instead of evolving is moving the other way. The fact is that whatever you read in a sports magazine is already highlighted on television or the Internet. So, I personally believe, the need for a dedicated sports magazine doesn’t exist anymore, unless that sports magazine is going to give some exclusive content that is not available anywhere else. If ‘Sports Illustrated’ puts enough strength behind advertising and marketing, they might be able to create a niche for themselves.”