Olympics countdown: Hero, Airtel etc flock to hockey on rising public interest

28 Feb,2012

By Ratna Bhushan & Meenakshi Verma Ambwani


Indian marketers are joining the ‘Chak De India’ brigade going to London Olympics. A day after the Indian hockey team qualified for the Olympics in spectacular style, advertisers such as Hero MotoCorp, Bharti Airtel and Vodafone plan to associate with the team and the event while Coca-Cola and Samsung may look to cash in on their official partnerships for the event, say people involved in their media buying plans.


Media planners say official broadcaster ESPN Star Sports hopes to earn Rs95-100 crore by selling advertisement spots during the 17-day event in July-August as well as related programmes that will be spread over five months starting March.


This amount is several times more than Rs5-7 crore that Doordarshan had raked in during the Beijing Olympics in 2008, but experts say three factors will help ESPN Star Sports reach its revenue target.


These are, Indian cricket team’s disastrous performance in recent times that has pushed the sport’s television viewership to new lows; the fact that the Olympics is being shown on a private channel for the first time, leading to aggressive marketing of the event; and, a strong revival in interest in hockey and other sports.


“The hockey team qualifier has changed things. Many companies are now seeing the Olympics as an opportunity to cash in on their global partnerships,” said Navin Khemka, senior vice-president at media buying firm Zenith Optimedia, which buys media for Reckitt Benckiser.


Advertisers game for London

ESPN Software Executive VP Sanjay Kailash said there is significant interest among Indian brands to advertise on the Olympics. “With the Indian team qualifying for hockey, the interest and buzz around the Olympics among Indian viewers and advertisers will only increase,” he said.


ESPN Star Sports plans to rope in eight partners for the event. Consumer electronics giant Samsung is the official partner of the Indian delegation to the London Olympics while dairy products brand Amul on Monday announced a deal to sponsor the Indian contingent.


“The hockey team’s performance has added muscle to our sponsorship plans,” said RS Sodhi, managing director of Amul brand owner Gujarat Cooperative Milk Marketing Federation, which will provide Rs1 crore for athletes who have qualified for the London Olympics.


A Samsung spokeswoman said the company is yet to work out the specifics of its Olympics campaign. The firm is supporting training expenses of six players. Two-wheeler manufacturer Hero MotoCorp, the title sponsor for the Olympics qualifying tournament concluded in New Delhi on Sunday, is also expected to pick up broadcasting spots.


Others such as telecom services providers Bharti Airtel and Vodafone too have evinced interest in associating with the Indian team, either on ground or on television, say media planners. Sahara Group, which renewed its five year sponsorship deal with Hockey India earlier this month, too may pitch in.


Cricket’s loss helps

In a strange turn of the wheel of fortune, the Indian hockey team, by merely qualifying for an event it had missed only once since the country’s Independence, has stolen the limelight from the national cricket team that won the World Cup less than a year ago.


Television rating points for India’s ongoing series in Australia have plunged to less than 2, now that India has lost all the Test matches and is almost certain to finish last in the three-nation one-day international tournament.


The downturn started in England last year, when the Indian team lost all its matches and meekly surrendered its top ranking in Tests to the host country. Yet, ESPN Star is expected to have earned about Rs300 crore in advertising revenues from the three-month Indian tour to Australia.


“Family viewership for cricket has dropped and rates are now out of reach of certain brands,” says Shripad Kulkarni, chief executive officer of Allied Media, part of sports entertainment company Percept.


Source: The Economic Times
Copyright © 2012, Bennett, Coleman & Co. Ltd. All Rights Reserved

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