Olympic Games Tokyo 2020, the biggest multi-sport extravaganza is already underway in the Japanese capital and India has sent its largest contingent to date which comprises 127 athletes. The games are already being aired by Sony Pictures Sports Network (SPSN) on its television channels and its OTT platform SonyLIV.
Many luminaries from diverse fields came forward to rally the support of the nation for the Indian contingent. Touted to be one of India’s biggest & grandest campaigns in the history of Indian Olympics till date, SPSN’s ‘Hum Honge Kamyab’, a series of films, where they collaborated with the Ministry of Youth Affairs and Sports as well as eminent personalities like Shri Anurag Thakur, Union Minister for I&B and Youth Affairs & Sports, Kiren Rijiju, Hon’ble Minister of Law & Justice, General Bipin Rawat, Chief of Defence Staff and Chairman Chiefs of Staff Committee and Mr. N.P. Singh, MD & CEO, Sony Pictures Networks India, along with Amitabh Bachchan, Akshay Kumar, Sudha Murthy, Nita Ambani, Sajjan Jindal, Gautam Adani, Adille Sumariwala, Vijender Singh, Yuvraj Singh, Pullela Gopichand, Anjali Bhagwat, Parth Jindal, Harsha Bhogle, and many more to catalyze the Olympics momentum in the nation.
“Presence of celebrities from various fields cheering the Indian Olympics team and their enhanced coverage in media as well as on social media has given an outlet for brands too to build visibility using this platform. Brands are riding on the Olympics wagon by not only curating special hashtags and campaigns but also making athletes their brand ambassadors. They have gone a step further and created inspirational videos showcasing athletes’ journey that intrinsically blends with the brand’s personality and with a further boost to their positioning in consumer’s minds. Brands like AMFI (Association of Mutual Funds in India), Amul, Byjus, Hero, JSW, MPL Sports Foundation, Thums Up and Visa Pay have capitalized on this mega event and have left no stones unturned to reach millions of consumers even in the remote parts of India through telecast of this event on TV & Digital platforms,” explains L.V. Krishnan, CEO of TAM Media Research on Indian brands capitalizing the event for a brand boost.
Nandini Dias, CEO of Lodestar UM says, “Over the last 10 years India has enhanced focus on winning more metals and has taken steps to push the system. Organizations like Olympic quest for Gold, Prakash Padukone and Gopichand Badminton academy, Reliance Foundation Sports all have taken steps to identify and train players. It is important that we all must encourage our contingent and stand by them. It's great that many people holding critical portfolios and celebrities have come together in ads to encourage. But we also need many more organizations to identify/pick a sport and support the players' journey on a long-term basis through the four years of training. We have seen magic in Badminton. We need it in many more sports.”
Navin Kathuria, Executive Vice President – Planning & Buying, OMD Mudramax also shares similar views, “Cricket = Sports in India, broadly across the country. However other sports like Football, Kabaddi, Badminton have been garnering interest in the past few years though relatively on a smaller scale. Having said that Events with a global scale like Olympics does have its segment of audiences and advertisers. The government and Corporates have been supporting the Indian contingent of participants for quite some years now. Also, better performances of Indian sportspersons on the world stage and bringing glory to India in the past few years on global sports events have generated interest and hope. Hence Tokyo Olympics will also get support and attention from viewers as well as advertisers.”
“From a marketing and sponsorship perspective, the Olympics has not been very big in India possibly because our performance and luck with medals have not been good. Also, the money involved in the sponsorship deals is a fraction of what is paid for cricket. However, I see that this time the Olympics are getting a fair amount of attention in media and from sponsors. The govt is also focusing more on it. The early win by Mirabai Chanu will also provide a big boost. All said and done the Olympics provide a good platform for brands to stand out in a niche way without spending a fortune,” says an optimistic Lara Balsara Vajifdar, Executive Director, Madison World. However, like there are two sides of every coin, similarly there is covid-19 still hovering around us with new variants. Will it continue playing a spoilsport for Indian advertisers? “Today any distraction from Covid is good. And we have seen that sports events are taking place all over the world. Consumer demand is also surely coming back so advertisers are ready to open their purse strings,” quips Balsara Vajifdar.
Advertisers, the world over, have always taken sporting events seriously and tried utilizing these events for promotions, new launches, increasing awareness, and enhancing brand recall. India is no less. “Brands have always made the most of sporting events and the Olympics is no different; especially because like World Cup, this is a once-in-four-year event. Athletes from across India compete with other international players in over 18 sports. This multi-sport event is increasingly garnering higher viewership, specifically with more Indian athletes participating and hence proving to be a good opportunity for brand participation. Rio Olympics 2016 attracted 35 Brands in 25 Categories such as e-commerce, automobiles, life insurance, etc. This year is no different. The opening day saw advertisers from various categories starting from e-Learning to automobiles, beverages, etc. So yes, Olympics 2020 has proved to be a breath of fresh air for brands too,” explains Krishnan about advertising during the current Tokyo games. Nandini Dias also shares similar thoughts while talking from an agency perspective. “Live sports events have done very well since the onset of a pandemic. Both in terms of viewership and have been high on conversations across Facebook, Twitter, and news channels. Our agency has been optimistic and many of our clients are participating in some form or the other Amul, Coca-Cola, RBI, Exxon Mobil to name a few. Advertisers who have been reticent, and have had a conservative outlook throughout the pandemic have continued to stay away,” she says.
Navin Kathuria gives a more logical reason as he explains, “There are two factors which will result in relatively higher interest levels and better response for Tokyo Olympics both from a viewer and advertiser perspective: Firstly, due to the pandemic, Olympic games were postponed by a year, this being the 2nd Sports event on a global scale (after Euro Cup), buzz and curiosity are on relatively higher levels and secondly, Indian sportspersons’ performance in the past few years on global sports events has been improving. Thus, the advertising fraternity will look at these games from a fresh perspective. As mentioned above, it does not get the advertiser response like Cricket, but there are substantial corporates who would be looking at Olympic games as an opportunity and an effective platform to communicate their product & brand messages.” Saikhom Mirabai Chanu silver has increased India’s hopes for more to come, possibly gold!
When quizzed with which athlete will pacify India’s quest for gold, “This year, India has sent its biggest contingent for the event. Each athlete has their own merits and strengths. Mirabai Chanu has already created history by winning a silver medal on the opening day for India. Other sportspersons like PV Sindhu, Vinesh Phogat, Bajrang Punia, etc. are advancing with their splendid performances. It is, indeed, very difficult to say who will bag the first gold medal for India,” answers L.V. Krishnan. While Nandini Dias is very specific with her bet on PV Sindhu, Lara Balsara Vajifdar who is not a sports buff has high expectations with boxing, shooting, archery, and badminton.
Talking about the ‘Hum Honge Kamyab’ campaign that received a phenomenal response from the audience, the media, and the advertising fraternity, L.V. Krishnan said, “Hum Honge Kamyab has always given a sense of confidence to anyone who hears it. The campaign has evoked a sense of pride in not only the athletes but in the nation as a whole. Prominent personalities from all walks of life, including our honourable PM, have come forward to encourage & congratulate our athletes, as they make our country proud. Through this campaign, Sony Pictures Sports Network has taken engagement of audiences with a multi-sport event to a new level.”