Marketers beginning to speak the language of sports

With sports frenzy only increasing in India in the days to come, marketers will have to buckle up to leverage from it.

e4m by Akash Raha
Updated: Feb 8, 2011 7:47 AM
Marketers beginning to speak the language of sports

Marketers are increasingly beginning to leverage sports in their marketing initiatives. There two routes available for marketers today – marketing of sports and marketing through sports.

Subhinder Singh Prem, Managing Director, Reebok India Company and Nirmal Dayani, Senior Director – Marketing, ESPN Software India, highlighted how to go about successfully leveraging sports.

Chairing a session on ‘Sports Marketing’, Prem pointed out that the biggest footwear and apparel brands were both sports brand, which said a lot about the importance of sports marketing in a market where there were a plethora of brands. “The business of sports marketing is a very serious affair in India, and a lot can be done to better it further. The demographic of India is an important reason for that, as 50 per cent of the population is below the age of 25; and sports is something which is associated with the youth… Sports is a complex interplay, but it is played in real-time,” he observed.

According to Prem, in India, there were only two successful languages – the language of Bollywood and that of cricket. Also, one could never watch sports without taking sides and sports heroes were seen as real life heroes, often worshipped. “Sports unifies and brings people together, hence it is so important to market sports well,” he stressed.

Speaker of the session, Dayani said that sports worldwide was doing very well and there was a lot of money flowing around it. India, too, was not far behind with the Indian Premier League (IPL), the ICC Cricket World Cup and F1 racing on the cards, he noted. Dayani further said that the sports market had been steadily increasing in the last three years. According to him what made sports special were its qualities of being individualistic, psychological, experimental and social for the viewers. “The key aspects of successful sports marketing is brand impact, sales impact, social impact, partner’s impact and customer’s impact,” he said.

With the advent of foreign players in the Indian sports arena, geographical boundaries have dissolved. Dayani remarked, “When brands advertise in sports, they realise that their message transcends geographical boundaries… The interest in sports is only growing and this promises of the better times to come.”

He further said, “Sports has no language, it only knows the language of passion… In a way, sports is agnostic.” Talking about marketing of sports, he spoke at length about how ESPN spurred a football revolution in India. Using the biggest role models in India, such as Sachin Tendulkar and John Abraham, they built interest in football (EPL). Attempts to integrate football into popular culture through musical festivals were also made, besides identifying football talent in India and building engagement.

He cited examples of various brands powering important sporting events and explained how they were able to leverage from it successfully. Sporting events like the FIFA World Cup, IPL, ICC Cricket World Cup 2011 and Commonwealth Games are big platforms from where one can carve a success story for themselves. Dayani expressed the hope that in future, the sports marketing arena would only flourish.

Subhinder Singh Prem and Nirmal Dayani were speaking were speaking at the two-day World Marketing Congress, organised by AIMA, on February 4-5, 2011.

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