The comeback is always stronger than the setback

Guest Column: Komal Mehra, Head, Sports Initiatives and Associations at Usha International, shared how brands can contribute to the wellbeing of all stakeholders involved in organizing the tournament

e4m by Komal Mehra
Updated: Aug 12, 2021 7:02 AM
Komal Mehra

For the past year, like everyone else, brands too have been fighting to overcome the many challenges thrown their way due to the multiple waves of COVID-19, and consumer demand has been on a rollercoaster. So when the biggest cricketing tournament commenced, it came as a breather and a welcome distraction to fatigued, home-bound consumers and brands fighting a crisis a day. The tournament being played on Indian soil further amplified excitement amongst cricket fans, with the much-awaited season all set to break viewership records. Brands, marketers, and organizers were confident that this would buoy up sentiments and cheer up viewers. 

However, as they say “Man Proposes, God Disposes” – the joyful distraction was short-lived, as the dreaded COVID-19 pierced the bio-bubble to infect several players and support staff and the tournament was stopped – adjourned midway. This cancellation of the much-loved tournament came as a shock to not just players and fans, but also to the entire ecosystem that’s built around it.

Having said that, however disheartened one was by the cricketing season coming to a screeching halt, brands and viewers all definitely agree on one thing unanimously, that the safety of everyone reigns supreme – players, on-ground staff, support staff, everyone’s families et al. While the Organizing Committee and Cricketing Associations swung into action to reschedule the rest of the tournament knowing well how invested viewers are in the tournament, this gives us an opportunity to take a step back and utilize this break to understand and plan how to better fortify and secure future tournaments on Indian soil. Kudos to the brilliant effort by all the teams in lifting our spirits during such a difficult time, despite many of them having a lot going on in their personal lives with near and dear ones being afflicted and their commitment disallowing them from stepping out of their bio-bubbles.

With so much happening, we, as responsible brands, must rally around to aid our communities the best we can. Here are some ways we can contribute to their wellbeing. 

Supporting decisions made by Cricketing Associations

No one, least of all the Cricket Associations, enjoys a tournament being stopped mid-way – they have a lot riding on it. However, there are some non-negotiables that cannot be compromised upon – safety, health, and wellbeing of all the stakeholders involved in organizing the tournament. These are unprecedented times and we are all in the same boat, so associated brands must stand united and support the decision made by the governing bodies and their plan of action for the second half of the tournament. 

Promoting Health & Safety, Encouraging Vaccinations

As brands, the responsibility falls squarely on our shoulders to encourage everyone around us to stay safe and minimize risk of infection. We need to take charge of what we can control -- actively promote the Government’s vaccination drive, create awareness about its advantages, dispel rumors and bust around vaccinations. We must play a part as individuals too, and come together for our communities and encourage vaccinations, eating healthy and freshly cooked food, amplify essential resources, and roll out initiatives for the betterment of the society. If each one of us takes the onus of helping, in whichever way, say for example getting five more vaccinated, India will soon become a safe place again, and all of us can breathe easy.

Mindful Communication

These are unprecedented times, consumers expect more mindfulness from brands. Brands need to be cognizant of their marketing strategies, so as to address the larger issue at hand and not be opportunistic. This is not the time for in-your-face advertising and promotions. This is the time for empathetic messaging, mindful storytelling, connecting with the consumers, and ensuring any communication that we, as brands put out, is cognizant of consumer sentiments. 

Leveraging the Power of Sports for the Larger Good

Cricket is the most watched sport in our country, and our sportspersons have mass connects with the public. This can be leveraged by amplifying the voices of these players via social messages, to increase awareness and encourage the citizens to stay safe, mask up, follow mandated precautions, and unite to overcome this second wave of the pandemic. 

As people continue to stay at home, and our players rest and recuperate in their homes, the recent news that the tournament will continue has raised everyone spirits already. We can all now look forward to the 2nd chapter of the season, albeit to be played in the UAE. Times like these teach us to focus holistically on our physical and mental wellbeing as it’s only when the mind, body, and soul are in harmony that we can show our best form, and this isn’t just for players, this applies to each and every one of us. Yes, of course, the commitment and sportsmanship of these players has always, and will continue to inspire and motivate audiences to lead an active and healthy lifestyle that helps boost immunity and fight off infections better. 

It is time that we all work towards dispelling fear, anxiety, and move forward to do what needs to be done working towards positive outcomes. And believe me, each step you take counts, towards becoming stronger and more resilient, as you help yourselves and each other to overcome the darkness that threatens your peace. So here’s hoping each of you are using this down time to listen to your inner selves to come out a winner!

Disclaimer: The views expressed here are solely those of the author and do not in any way represent the views of exchange4media.com.

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