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The great Indian brand brigade supporting Team India at the Tokyo Olympics

Cricket has always grabbed the lion’s share of the ad spends and brand attention. But over a period of time, the canvas for sports has widened and today we are seeing several advertisers associating with non-cricket sports to leverage their brands. Held under the shadow of the global pandemic and already having faced a cancelled year, the Tokyo Olympics 2020 get underway from tomorrow (July 23, 2021). The current situation has failed to dampen brands’ enthusiasm for the greatest sporting event in the world.

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India is sending a 228-strong contingent for the Tokyo Olympics, with brands such as Edelweiss, Herbalife Nutrition, Inox Group, Amul, Nippon Paint, JSW, and SRL Diagnostics, among many others, backing Team India by inking sponsorship deals with the Indian Olympics Association.

Sony Pictures Sports Network (SPSN), the official broadcaster of Tokyo Olympics, has signed on some blue-chip brands for the Games – including Coca- Cola, Amul, Hero Motocorp, JSW, MPL, Association of Mutual Funds in India (AMFI), RBI, Visa, Lenevo, Byju’s, and Herbalife Nutrition, among others.

Commenting on more and more brands showing interest in associating with the Olympics, Lloyd Mathias, Business Strategist and Angel Investor, said, “It is a positive trend that many Indian brands have begun to associate with the Olympics. The Olympics are the world’s largest sports spectacle and for brands they represent a great opportunity to be associated with top quality sports and a huge audience. Over the duration of the 16 days that the Olympics is held, the attention of sports fans across the world is on the games.”

At the same time, he added, “Of course, in India cricket continues to be the biggest draw, but with the cost of association with cricket becoming more and more prohibitive, many brands are beginning to look at options. Also, with India’s medal prospects brightening across a wide array of sports – shooting, wrestling, weight lifting, boxing, archery and badminton – many stars are emerging for brands to carve an association with. While badminton star PV Sindhu is already a household name, other sports heroes like Mary Kom, Bajrang Punia, Vinesh Phogat, Manu Bhaker and Neeraj Chopra are emerging as stars in their own right.”

Brands’ Olympics-related campaigns are already appearing across TV, full page advertisements in newspapers as well as on digital.

Tyre brand Bridgestone is conveying their best wishes to the Indian team by creating a special website – chaseyourdream.info – to engage with their fan followers, who can wish the athletes and get interesting content related to the Olympics. Commenting on their association, Deepak Gulati, Executive Office, Marketing and Solutions Bridgestone India, said, “At Bridgestone, we believe a society that nurtures a culture of sports and invests in its people contributes towards creation of better individuals, leading to a holistically developed nation. The essence is that if hard work, passion and challenges of a sportsperson are no different across the sports, then why should the support be any different, be it cricket or any other sport? We should support and motivate our athletes to eventually help India become a holistic sporting nation. Bridgestone via its “Chase your dream” campaign in India calls out a billion cricket fans to come out and support Indian athletes who are chasing their dreams and bringing laurels for the nation.”

Bharat Petroleum is another brand that has been associated with sports and the Olympics for a very long time. Seven of their players are representing India at the Tokyo Olympics. To support and encourage them, they have built a major part of their campaigns around their seven players who will represent India at the Tokyo Olympics. Starting from June 13, Bharat Petroleum has launched a series of campaigns under the campaign titled ‘Jeet Ka Padak’. One such component of the campaign is ‘Humans of Bharat Petroleum’, which is an ongoing series, showcasing their employees’ growth in the company on social media.

JSW’s association with the Olympics goes back several years. For the Tokyo Olympics, JSW had rolled out its campaign – ‘Rukna Nahi Hai’ – in the build-up to the Rio Olympics 2016, and the group has decided to carry this sentiment through to Tokyo Olympics 2020. The campaign includes a longer version for digital and a crisper TVC that will be aired on popular channels in the pre- and during the Games period.

Speaking on their association with the Olympics, Parth Jindal, Managing Director JSW Cements and JSW Paints, said, “We at the JSW Group have always been committed to the cause of elevating India’s performance on the biggest sporting stage of them all – the Olympic Games. We’ve played our part through the last five years in being there for our athletes at every stage in the build-up to the Games. We’ve opened the doors of the Inspire Institute of Sport (IIS), which is our high-performance training centre in Bellary, to all Tokyo-bound athletes, irrespective of whether they are supported by the JSW Group or not. Our campaign, ‘Rukna Nahi Hai’, is both, an ode to their undying spirit and a final push of encouragement as they will now step in rings, on mats, in arenas and do all they can to make everyone take notice of the Indian flag and anthem in Tokyo.”

Coca-Cola is another brand whose association with the Olympics goes back several decades. It’s home-grown brand, Thums Up, has unveiled a creative and innovative marketing campaign, which entails a series of video content along with marketing stories for digital and social media, which will keep the audiences connected with the Tokyo Olympic Games in real time. The content shares a glimpse of the stories of struggle of our Olympians – Bajrang Punia (wrestler), Manu Bhaker (shooter), Vikas Krishna Yadav (boxer), Deepika Kumari (archery), Atanu Das (archery), and the Indian Shooting Team who battled everyday odds but still retained the faith and strength to persevere and become heroes in the real world. In the face of these challenges, the protagonists show the pessimistic world a ‘thumbs down’ by turning an empty Thums Up bottle upside down against the backdrop of the inspirational tagline – Toofan wahi jo sab #PalatDe (the real storm is one that turns everything upside down).

In a statement issued, Arnab Roy, Vice President and Head-Marketing, Coca-Cola India and SouthWest Asia, said, “The Olympic Games is a global event shared by more than a billion people across genders, generations and cultures. In line with our long history of partnering with major sporting events globally, our strategic partnership with the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020, not only reinforces our long-standing commitment to refresh sports fans and enhance our consumers’ experiences, but is also our way of standing in solidarity and saluting the exemplary courage that the real people – the athletes, have displayed.”

Brand Amul has also extended its wholehearted support to the Indian team and has come up with some digital campaigns. In its latest campaign, Amul has released an ad – ‘Jalwa in Javelin’ – supporting India’s javelin team. It has also unveiled an ad announcing: “Amul - proud official sponsor for the 2021 Indian Olympic Team.”

(Edited and additional inputs by Shanta Saikia.)

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