Nike’s ‘World Cup’ films featuring a host of stars is getting more talked about than Adidas’ (official FIFA World Cup sponsors). Even as laws are getting more stringent, brands not officially associated with big ticket events such as the ongoing FIFA World Cup are getting braver and more innovative. But does this score over official sponsorship on RoI?
E-commerce player Jabong.com is among brands that has looked to leverage the FIFA World Cup and launched a TVC that’s on-air on Sony Six (official broadcaster in India). Praveen Sinha, co-founder and MD, Jabong.com, explains, “Lateral thinking in terms of marketing strategies is the rule of the game. When you unofficially get associated with a big sporting affair it calls for a great amount of innovative moves to reap the benefits from the same. At the end of day what matter most is the creativity of the campaign and its execution and if it is done in an accurate manner, it can indeed be called a smart move monetarily. The money that goes into a full blown sponsorship is mammoth and the benefits come along is more or less similar to that of an unofficial affiliation. Indirect brand association involves less amount of money while the revenue one receives is huge if done in a thoughtful manner.”
Prashant Singh, GM, Octagon India, suggests official versus unofficial affiliation with events comes down to the objectives the brand has. He explains, “The World Cup is currently topical and that’s why we are seeing a few brands riding the wave. Brands like Jabong and Hero are creating TVCs specific to the tournament that’ll run for the 30-day period of the tournament, while others are running existing campaigns on Sony Six. It’s something purely tactical and only depends on the objectives of the brand.”
Vinit Karnik, national director, GroupM ESP, echoes Singh’s sentiments of associating at an official or ‘unofficial’ level being tactical. “Association with a marquee property is a proactive and a well thought through approach to build a consumer/trade engagement program. Having said that, with some very competitive categories we have at times seen brands associating with marquee properties to block competition and maintain their dominance in the market place and consumer mind space. Most of the time, approach of brands trying to ambush is reactive and tactical in nature.”
Hiren Pandit, COO, TransStadia, is of the opinion that some brands aren’t aware of the guidelines of events such as the FIFA World Cup and go ahead with communication/products. “If someone is using the FIFA logo, it’s illegal. Many small brands don’t understand that, and it comes down to a number - how many people can FIFA catch? All large events have this problem. A lot of big brands steer away from keywords that are illegal and look to sell products. I can’t see the benefits a brand gets by riding such events without a proper association. It then comes down to just riding a wave, and is pretty similar to events such as the elections, IPL, etc.”
Micromax Informatic’s CMO, Shubhodip Pal, says that ‘unofficial’ association makes a lot of sense and it’s more efficient. He explains the brand’s experience in other big ticket events like the IPL, where it has been a consistent on air advertiser, without being an official sponsor of the tournament.
“It makes a lot of difference if used in permissible limits. Champions League has best brands on it from Mastercard, Coca-Cola, McDonald’s; but we are on air as a strategic sponsor (advertiser) because it makes sense for me. If you are a smart marketer, you will use that,” surmises Pal.
Praveen Sinha, co-founder and MD, Jabong.com
“Since there is a lot of buzz around FIFA, we wanted to leverage the same in a cost effective manner. Encashing a sporting event which has an international reach helps the brand build a global audience for itself within a lean investment. Such campaigns entail creative flexibility and we can mould it in our favor whereas big ticket sponsorships, though they add to the brand value in a colossal manner, can act as a bottleneck to the innovative path that the brand aspires to follow.”
Hiren Pandit, COO, TransStadia
“When brands look to leverage an event (unofficially), it is from a short-term sales perspective. I don’t think you can effectively use it if you’re riding on it (in the short term). People aren’t going to buy into it according to me. An official sponsorship gives you a combination of brand building and sales and leads to better long-term recognition.”
Vinit Karnik, national director, GroupM ESP
“Sponsorship offers you exclusive entitlement that elevates the stature of the brand campaign. An association outside of sponsorship looks tactical and contextual backed by heavy investment in mass media.”
Shubhodip Pal, CMO, Micromax Informatic
“If you are a smart marketer, you will use that (unofficial leverage). The idea is to give unmatched experiences to the consumer (at a lower cost).”
Prashant Singh, GM, Octagon India
“Official sponsorship versus unofficial ‘sponsorship’ comes down to the objectives the brand has. The World Cup is currently topical so we’re seeing a few brands just riding the wave.”