Sports Marketing in the Digital Era


Sports unites countries, promote brotherhood and peace in the world. There are numerous instances to support this, out of which the most popular is the Olympics of 2016 held at Rio Di Janeiro when Olympics gave identity to a contingent of 10 athletes. The athletes sought refuge under The Refugee Olympic Team that competed under the Olympic flag. The athletes belonged to countries who were torn apart from years of wars that robbed them of their nationalities.

Sports in many countries was a means to break from the chains of bondage and oppression from the whites. It was the Mexico Olympics of 1968 when two famous American sprinters Tommie Smith and John Carlos on the medal ceremony stood on the podium with their clenched fists in black gloves giving the black power salute a symbol of defiance against racism and injustice. Indians as well, protested against the colonial rule when its home football team Mohun Bagan defeated the East Yorkshire Regiment with a score of 2-1 in 1911 and is said to be one of Asia’s biggest football rivalries.

In 1983, India was internationally recognized in cricket when it won its first World Cup against the West Indies. West Indies, a cricket team that was hard to defeat, and since then there was no looking back for Indians in cricket. Cricket in India changed from just being a sport to an emotion, a religion.

As smartphones and high -speed internet flourished in India, so is digital marketing. Medium-scale enterprises and MNC’s started with campaigns using the power of social media to engage more and more with the target group. Meanwhile, the sports sector also took the help of digital platforms to reach out to the masses for marketing of events. Here are some sports event marketing campaigns which were successful in creating immense enthusiasm amongst the masses-

  1. Mauka Mauka – World Cup 2015

Pakistan and India are the greatest arch-rivals in cricket. Conceptualized by Star Sports, the official broadcast for the 2015 world cup, they brought out a campaign ‘Mauka Mauka’ for the upcoming India-Pakistan Match by cashing on Pakistan’s winless streak against India at the World Cup. The campaign showed a boy, who since his teenage is eagerly waiting for the Pakistan team to defeat India so that he can burst his crackers for the celebration. But that remains a dream, even after he becomes a father with him saying ‘Kab Phodenge Yaar’ under the hashtag Won’t Give it Back. The campaign received immense popularity as it instilled an emotion of competing attitude and aggression amongst the fans to cheer for India. The ad received 1.7 million on You Tube just a day of its release.

2 . The babysitter

The pain of finishing as runners-up in the finals of the 2003 Cricket world cup is still fresh amongst Indians. In 2019, India’s tour of Australia, Tim Paine took a dig at Rishabh Pant to babysit with his babies while he takes his wife for dinner and movies. Sportingly, Rishabh posed with Paine’s babies along with his wife on new year’s eve in Australian PM’s house that went viral with the caption ‘Best Babysitter’. For the upcoming Paytm ODI Series between India and Australia, Star Sports did a moment marketing by releasing a film showing a group of children wearing the Australian cricket team jersey entering a dressing room where Inside the room is their babysitter, Virender Sehwag. The film amplifies the fun banter that if Indians can do babysitting they can win matches as well. The ad film was conceptualized by Taproot Dentsu.

Babysitter

3 . We are the Superhumans- Rio Paralympics 2016

How many of us watch the Paralympics with enthusiasm as the Summer Olympics ….well it is a question mark. Channel 4 released a 3 -minute long advert on television before the games with the song ‘Yes I can’. The film featured 140 disabled athletes who can do daily chores to office work to as marvelous as winning medals in Olympics. The film received more than 33.7 million views on Facebook and 7.5 million on Youtube. According to a survey, 74% of people felt more comfortable discussing their disabilities. 59% believed that it improved their perception of disabled individuals.

We are the superhumans

4 . Le Panga

Kabaddi is almost a forgotten game in India. The game is played till the school or college level. Creating a fanbase for Kabaddi was tough in India since as they worshipped cricket. To revive this, pre-historic game Kabaddi was given an international feel by a league format where 12 different teams named after cities. Star Sports came out with a campaign titled ‘Le Panga’. The story is about a policewoman’s multiple failed attempts to catch the thief. The ad inspires people to overcome personal hurdles and encourages people to face challenges head-on hence the word Panga (Challenge).

Le Panga

5 . Be a King – Budweiser

The pandemic has locked all the football lovers indoors. After a long spell of 30 years, Liverpool FC won the English Premier League. People’s happiness knew no bounds, but the fans couldn’t celebrate by toasting the iconic win with the usual grandeur. Budweiser 0.0 is the official partner of the premier league. Budweiser went all the way to ensure that the fans across the country got an opportunity to celebrate the win of Liverpool FC. For this ,  12 lucky fans were chosen by Liverpool Fan Clubs across Mumbai, Delhi and Bangalore and Budweiser took the celebration to the fan’s home where they decorated the rooms with a replica of European League Trophy, banners having the Liverpool FC logo, crowns, Liverpool jersey, other merchandises and many bottles of Budweiser bottles to celebrate. Also, they roped in India’s best stand-up comedians like Kumar Varun, Rahul Subramanium, and Anirban Dasgupta to connect with the Liverpool fans in India for a virtual celebration. This was Budweiser’s effort for the football enthusiasts in India to experience the sport at its full potential and celebrate the passion for the beautiful game.

Be a king

Marketing of sports using a digital medium helps to increase viewership and revenue. In such trying times of pandemic, quirky campaigns remains etched in people’s mind and makes one more loyal to the event or brand.

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