In a telling film with no words spoken, Indian badminton ace Saina Nehwal communicates with the audience through placards. She introduces herself, the fame and recognition she enjoys, former world number one rank, medal at the London 2012 Olympics, through the cards. She explains her stand on what these things, and her religion, caste, State, and money mean, through every other card that says, 'Nothing means anything'. Looking into the camera, she holds up another sheet that says she is also part of a team – the Indian contingent at the Rio Olympics 2016. She reveals that she is proud to be part of a team, some of whose members' stories she knows. Each member of the team has sacrificed a lot to get to where they are, she points out, adding that they understand a simple truth of life: that hard work can be kind and luck can be cruel. She is part of one big team, says the last placard: #iAmTeamIndia. The names of other Indian players in the backdrop disappear as Nehwal walks away. The film ends urging viewers to share the video to support the team. Unobtrusively yet prominently, diversified financial services player Edelweiss, sponsor of the Indian Olympic team, is present throughout with its logo.
This is the first leg of the brand's campaign for the Rio Olympics 2016. The film which went live on social media on 14 May 2016 was conceptualised by Nehwal herself, along with director Ram Subramanian and the Edelweiss team, informed Abhishek Gupta, SVP and head – marketing, Edelweiss Group. Edited excerpts from Campaign India's conversation with Gupta:
Edelweiss bagged the principal sponsorship rights in April this year. Why did you target the Olympics and what connect did you see?
Abhishek Gupta (AG): We have been associated with sport in the country since 2009. We have held initiatives like the Olympic Gold Quest and the likes in the past. We supported Mary Kom three years before she got her medal in 2012. We didn’t want to target one sport, but were looking at sports as a category. As a part of furthering our brand, we got in Nehwal as brand ambassador. Then, we went further and approached the Indian Olympic Organisation to get principal sponsorship rights. Our association with sport runs deep. Our founder Rashesh Shah is an avid marathoner.
What was the idea behind the first digital film?
AG: We had signed on Nehwal as brand ambassador in October last year. Saina was shooting with us for our brand campaign and she got us talking about this initiative. She told us that when she looks at her achievements, and then looks at the sacrifices the rest of the team has made, the former fall short. The film looks to nurture support and is Saina’s message to the country: #NothingMeansAnything and it’s only about the team in sports.
What else is Edelweiss doing to leverage its association with the Indian Olympic contingent?
AG: We have also got a Rs 1-crore life insurance policy for each of the Olympians in the Indian contingent. We’ve got 89 players so far, and expect the list to go up to around 90 or 100 depending on further qualifications.
The film is currently only running on digital, but the encouraging response (without any seeding) wants us to shift the campaign offline. TV might not be an option, but we’re looking at BTL options.
The Olympic contingent needs support and protection. While we have somewhat protected the team with the life insurance policy, it needs support and that’s what Saina and we are calling out for.
The next leg of the campaign could see more Indian Olympians coming out to urge support. Being a part of the contingent is a big thing, and even though all of them may not end up getting us metals, we will feature more Olympians along the way.
Additionally, we are running contests internally to send winners to Rio to support the team.
How much of Edelweiss’ marketing budgets are going on this Olympics campaign?
AG: The Olympics happen once in four years. And interest in it is growing. In fact Saina says that the interest she’s seeing this year has never been seen by her before in any of the Olympics she has been a part of (2008 and 2012).
As principal sponsors, we are morally inclined to generate more buzz and support the team. We’ll be investing around 20 to 25 per cent of our total yearly marketing budget on the Olympics. This is over and above the life insurance cover we are providing to the team.