An article headlined ‘Adidas draws blood for rugby fans’ ran in the middle of September 2006, in The WSJ.
The report was about a promotional campaign by Adidas in New Zealand, conceptualised by TBWA\Whybin Auckland. Adidas, the sponsor of the All Blacks rugby team (considered national heroes), wanted to break through the clutter. It created posters infused with the blood of the team’s players. These posters – 8,000 of them – were available for purchase to those who bought the official team jerseys. The annual poster became the centre of the jersey marketing strategy. International buzz was accompanied by a sell-out.
The campaign went on to win a Grand Prix at the Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity. News reports quoted jury members as saying that while some of the other campaigns may have shown better results, this Promo Lion roared the loudest, living true to the campaign title of ‘Bonded by Blood’, resonating with fan spirit.
When the campaign was conceived, the team engaged audiences in some focused group discussions. Their worry? How would fans react to owning players’ blood? Luckily, it was understood that the posters in their living rooms would have only traces of it. Fans bought right in.
When news of a book of photographs featuring former Indian cricketer Sachin Tendulkar surfaced, there was a lot of buzz. It had to do with the publisher’s revelations on a signature page in ‘Sachin Tendulkar Opus’ with blood from the batting legend infused in it. Limited editions would cost upto $ 75,000, said reports across the world. A few days later, Tendulkar, who was batting in Sri Lanka, would make a clarification that there would be no blood, and that the book wasn’t an autobiography or biography.
There’s something about leveraging a nation’s passion for commercial advantage that could boomerang very badly on a brand.
In the case of the Bajaj V, that has infused into it the metal of the war hero INS Vikrant, it is a courageous call made possible by a couple of things.
As Rajiv Bajaj articulated at the reveal event, there had to be a product that was differentiated enough, that could justify the positioning of ‘Invincible’, and justify an association with a heroic symbol of national pride.
It needed an Indian champion, a brand that has been Hamara Bajaj. A brand that proudly portrayed ‘Buland Bharat ki buland tasveer’.
And it needed a client to buy the idea, and make it large.
(This was first published in the 5 February 2016 issue of Campaign India)