Olympics 2012: Brands drum up national pride

When it comes to the Olympic Games, it’s no longer about brands showing ads on TV or displaying one’s logo in the ad; it’s about ‘engaging’ the consumer

e4m by Shree Lahiri
Updated: Jul 25, 2012 8:33 PM
Olympics 2012: Brands drum up national pride

As India sets its eyes on Olympic glory, brands are busy whipping up support for Team India on various platforms. Unlike in other sporting events such as Indian Premier League or UEFA Euro Cup, Olympic Games involves national pride.

Ashish Bhasin, Chairman, India and CEO South East Asia, Aegis Group Plc, reflected this view when he said, “Olympics is a question of national pride and brands can gain. How brands will benefit will depend on India’s performance. In the last two Olympics, we did fare better. If medals are won, the interest shown by brands will go well.”

Engagement all the way
Bhasin further said, “It’s no longer about putting ads on TV or your logo in the ad, it’s about ‘engaging’ the consumer.”

This engagement can be seen in brands’ activities and advertising. Samsung, which began its pact with the International Olympic Association (IOA) with the 1998 Bangkok Asian Games, has gone beyond ads to engage with the people. The electronics major had earlier been associated with the Athens Olympics (2004), Beijing Olympics (2008) and now, the London Olympics (2012).

Samsung India is the ‘Olympics Partner’ for the Indian contingent to the Games. The company announced the ‘Samsung Olympic Ratna’ programme, whereby it is providing scholarship support to eight top performing Indian athletes who have qualified for the London Olympics.

Samsung also flagged off a ‘Best Wishes’ campaign in the beginning of July, which is running on TV and print. Commenting on the company’s digital activities, Rahul Sehgal, CMO, Samsung India shared, “We have kicked-off a digital campaign to rally support for the Indian team, wherein people can walk into 500 retail outlets, plug on to a Samsung device, and use a special app called ‘Play Up’ to wish Team India.”

Amul is another sponsor of the Indian contingent to London Olympics. The company has created a 3D version of a TVC created for the Games. "We want to establish Amul Milk as the ‘World’s original energy drink’. We are looking at various tie-ups for this, and the Olympics is at the core,” said Nitin Karkare, Chief operating officer, Draftfcb+Ulka. Amul is launching a digital campaign on the eve of the London Olympics.

P&G, the official Olympic Games sponsor, has been gaining attention with its ‘Thank You Mom’ campaign. “We announced our partnership with the London Olympic Games 2012 on April 10 to reaffirm our commitment to improving lives through sports. The ‘Thank You Mom’ campaign acknowledges all the hard work that moms put in to raise their children. Through this campaign we want to build and strengthen our position as the ‘Proud Sponsors of Moms,” said a P&G spokesperson.

ESPN STAR Sports, the official broadcast partner for the Games in India, has launched the ‘My Country, My Cheer’ Facebook application. The app enables visitors to post words of encouragement for Team India. In addition, the app also provides a detailed programme schedule for the lead up, and duration of the Games. Another key activity includes a dedicated London 2012 Olympic Games page on the ESPN STAR Sports website, espnstar.com/london2012, featuring all the top news, videos, TV programme schedules and Games highlights.

Seagram’s Royal Stag has engagingly and emotively highlighted three stalwarts of the Games – winners of the coveted Olympic Gold medal at the London Olympics 1948 – to pass the beacon of hope to the current set headed to the same shores after 64 years. Leslie Claudius (Olympic gold in 1948, ’52 and ’56), Keshav Dutt (gold in ’48) and Jaswant Singh Rajput (Gold in ’48) feature handing the baton to Bharat Chetri, the goalkeeper captain of the Indian Hockey team to London Olympics 2012 in the ad.

Bikram Basu, Vice President – Marketing, Pernod Ricard India said, “India has a golden heritage in hockey. These legends are our beacon, and hopefully the baton of success will pass firmly to the current team this London Olympics. We want to make it large.”

Meanwhile, Acer has set up a website – standforindia.in – wherein users are asked to sing the National Anthem for the athletes or leave a message of support for their favourite Olympian. The website features user generated content that includes videos of users singing the National Anthem as well as posting comments.

Industry speaks
Media planners feel that there aren’t too many opportunities for brand integration with the Olympics.

Gopinath Menon, Co-founder and CEO, Melon Media remarked, “The fact that there are over 50 news channels and 100 publications covering the Games gives brands the reason to milk the Olympics irrespective of how India fares in the various sports. So from a content perspective for brands, it will be dominated by brands whose basic problem is where all to spend money. The reactive categories are those whose marketing manager’s sole focus is to pick up the property before the closest competitor gets it. In the process, the media house will laugh all the way to the bank.”

He further said that the trick is to see how many brands will weave their commercials with Olympics around it to see the relevance of the event in the brand’s life. “My sense is there would be none and that’s the significance that an occasion of such high stature has in the life of any brand in India,” he added.

Zubin Tatna, National Director, MEC, wants brands to take a qualitative call. He advised brands not to view the Games as an ‘impact’ property, but one which has high affinity with the target. “One may not reach numbers, but we do expect a focused and regular audience,” he remarked.

He further said that with the year 2012 being a very heavy year for cricket, he felt that cricket will always get prioritised over Olympics. According to Tatna, male-centric brands are looking at the Olympics, but they should be clear as to why they are taking it. It may not build huge reach, but may get a focused audience, for example, young men.

“Since ESPN Star Sports is airing the games, one expects great production and coverage as against what we have seen earlier (one hour capsules aired on Doordarshan),” he added.

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