Video: In conversation with Simon Wardle, Octagon

WATCH Simon Wardle, chief strategy officer, Octagon Worldwide, talk about

Apr 23, 2012 03:28:00 PM | Video | Raahil Chopra Share - Share to Facebook

We met Octagon's Simon Wardle on the sidelines of Goafest 2012. Here are the excerpts from the interaction.

We met Octagon's Simon Wardle on the sidelines of Goafest 2012. Here are some edited excerpts from the interaction.

Campaign India (CI): What are the new developments with Octagon in India?

Simon Wardle (SW): Right now, a vast majority of our activation work in India is centred around MasterCard, which is a worldwide client for Octagon. We have been running MasterCard's association with the Mumbai Indians and that deal is coming for a renewal at the end of this year. So we are actively working with them to figure out what is next in sponsorship. Clearly, cricket is an important part of the relationship here in India, but they also have to broaden their sponsorship portfolio in the country. We also work with is Merrill Lynch in the investment banking business here. Plans for India are very  similar to the plans we had for China and for Brazil. 

In the case of Brazil, there was no Octagon there 18 months ago. So India is already ahead of them in that perspective because we have been here for five years now. But Brazil, obviously, with the World Cup and Olympics coming, is a very important market for sports marketing. In Octagon Brazil, we have 25 employees currently and at the end of the year we should have 30. We have a large stable of clients that we are providing strategic consulting for football, Olympics and everything from musical festivals to rodeos. 

The plan in India is very similar. We will build on the presence we have in the market, certainly, given how the economy is doing in the country and the passion people have in this country for cricket and other sports and also movies, music and entertainment. 

I think there is a great opportunity for the kind of consulting we provide - which is not just about printing a logo in association with something, but using the assets strategically to help build your brand and grow your business.

CI: What's your perspective on the sports marketing and entertainment space in India?

SW: I think it's relatively immature in terms of how sponsorship is used. Obviously there is a lot of activation and lot of money spent around the IPL and that will continue. I think what we will see is companies using cricket in a way that is more central to the core marketing messaging. I also think we will see diversification away from cricket to other sports, as clients use sports to tell a brand story, to engage the target consumer. I think the future for sports marketing in India is bright and Octagon looks forward to hopefully be a part of this development.

CI: Other than cricket, which are the big sports in India?

SW: Formula 1. Currently, there is Indian presence; and what I have seen from my research around the world is that a lot of Formula 1 interest is driven by the affinity you have. 
The affinity of the drivers from your own country, and cars or teams from your own country, will drive more and more interest in India in Formula 1. I think the English Premier League is big too. We are just seeing phenomenal growth there both on the commercial side and in distribution and viewership. Besides the Mumbai Indians T-shirt, its probably Manchester United's T-shirt that I have seen around town. So it's a great platform. I think Manchester United, Arsenal and Liverpool are now global platforms and I have probably seen more Wayne Rooney T-shirts in the last three days than probably any other sports T-shirt. 

CI: Tell us about the role research will play in the space.

SW: There is lot of information out there about who the fans are, what they are watching and a little information about when and where. So who , what, when, where is pretty much covered. The area that tends to be missing is the 'Why' and that is the area we focused on and created this research methodology for passion drivers. 

It is very focused on understanding why fans are fans, and what the emotional connections are, because at the end of the day the most important piece of the puzzle is understanding why consumers care. That's the way the sponsorship works that is how we can use that tremendous passion that consumers have - be it for sports or entertainment - and engage them, engage them with our product or brand or services in a way that's relevant, compelling to them.

Because they care about cricket, football, Formula 1 or whatever it might be, we use those contexts to tell a brand's story and engage consumers and ultimately sell some more products. For us, that's why our research is so much focused on that 'why' and understanding those emotional connections because from my perspective, that is where the magic is.


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