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India @75: Advertising and sports – the unifying factor: Dhruv Warrior

As India gears up to celebrate her 75th year of Independence, we at Adgully are tracing the journey of Advertising and its contribution to the Indian society at large – whether it is bringing about a change in mindsets, or a societal pattern, or empowering different communities or ushering in new thoughts – basically, Soch badal ke rakh diya.

Our aim is to collate 75 most impressive and significant ways in which Advertising has impacted India over the decades. For this, we are reaching out to the Advertising Honchos of India to share the most significant contributions of Advertising to the Indian society and why they consider them to be important developments. We will serialise the story on Adgully’s website in the lead-up to the Independence Day this year in this special series: India @75 – Through the Advertising Lens.

According to Dhruv Warrior, National Creative Director, FoxyMoron (Zoo Media), one of the most heartening contributions that Indian advertising has made to our culture and society is to unite people under the banner of sport.

Warrior noted that when cricket was leading the way and breaking the long-awaited return of the World Cup to India, advertising gave every Indian fan a rallying cry to unite under (‘Bleed Blue’ amongst many others). “Inspired by the heroics and then newly found aggressive attitude and approach to cricket, advertising, too, became bolder, more inspiring, and even cheekily confident. Think ‘Mauka Mauka’,” he said.

Adding further, Warrior said, “Brands like Nike and Adidas were steadfastly working in the background to encourage grassroot athletes and endorse them. It gave every young athlete a reason to chase their dreams. But more importantly, it introduced a new aspect of professionalism to young athletes. It put them, their skills and their careers in the spotlight. And from it we have uncovered a world of incredibly inspiring sports personalities.”

As digital advertising practically exploded, the boundaries separating fans, their teams and their idols pretty much disappeared. OTT platforms have played a key role in helping increase viewership, giving all sports in India the opportunity to spread far and wide and grow. No longer do people have to stand outside shops staring at TV screens. Instead, they get a deep dive into what’s happening on the field, as it happens. Savvy brands and agencies have taken sports content creation in India to new heights. Stories that were once reserved for exclusive TV interviews are now shared as stories and Reels, enabling sports enthusiasts to dive into the achievements, struggles and stories of all athletes. And through advertising, sports celebrities (or should we call them major influencers?) have gained a new revenue stream. The economy of sports in India has grown and expanded in ways unseen and unexplored before. Simultaneously, social media has helped endear athletes on a personal level with people.

“And while cricket remains India’s dominant passion, we are seeing equally fervent followers of others sports like football, hockey, kabaddi, badminton, and athletics share the spotlight too,” Warrior said, pointing out, “Sports teams and fans now have an inseparable bond. Content creation has taken fans into places and spaces that were once exclusive to a very select group of people – namely coaches, journalists, selectors, officials and some VVIPs. But the world of digital advertising has broken down these walls, creating seamless O2O2O fan experiences and has fed the dreams and passions of a nation filled with sports fanatics. From the gym to the game, from mobile screens to the metaverse, sport content and advertising is leading the way.”

“As a sportsman myself, my dream and hope is that our industry continues to inspire future generations to proudly represent our nation on international sporting stages,” Warrior said.

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