Friday, April 19, 2024
HomeDigital MarketingOpinion: Why brands must embrace and support football culture in India 

Opinion: Why brands must embrace and support football culture in India 

Sushant Sharma of Inmark Exports talks about why brands should recognize the football culture in India and leverage the untapped potential within this sporting ecosystem.

It is indeed perplexing to fathom why someone like Sushant from Delhi would passionately support a club like Manchester City. After all, what connection does he have with Manchester? Has the city ever given him anything? The concept seems bizarre at first glance.

Football, the world’s most popular sport, holds a unique power to captivate and unite fans on a global scale. As Indian football continues its upward trajectory, moving up the FIFA World Rankings from 175 in 2015 to 100 today, it presents an exciting opportunity for brands in the marketing, business, and advertising industry to recognize and leverage the untapped potential within this sporting phenomenon. 

The association between brands and football offers a multitude of benefits that can elevate a brand’s image, engagement, and business growth. Football boasts an immense global following, providing brands with a platform to tap into an expansive fan base that transcends borders, cultures, and demographics. Remarkably, Kerala Blasters, an Indian football club, has emerged as the most followed club in Asia, surpassing giants like Esteghlal Tehran Football Club and even outshining several English Premier League football clubs in terms of fan following.

Furthermore, the Indian Super League (ISL), the premier football league in India, has witnessed remarkable growth in recent years. In terms of average audience attendance per match, the ISL stands as the fifth biggest football league in the world, with a continuous increase in attendance numbers. Notably, even in the face of the pandemic, the league experienced a significant 16% increase in attendance numbers compared to pre-pandemic figures.

To effectively reach and engage football fans, brands must adopt a multi-channel marketing approach. Sponsorships and partnerships offer brands the opportunity to maximize their visibility and brand exposure by associating with football clubs, leagues, or individual players. Strategic brand integration in stadiums, jerseys, and various marketing collateral amplifies brand presence and connects with fans on a personal level. Digital interventions play a vital role in engaging football fans, as the sport has a strong online presence. Brands can leverage social media, websites, and mobile apps to create captivating content, live streaming experiences, interactive campaigns, and fan-driven initiatives. These initiatives foster meaningful connections with fans, building a strong digital presence within the football ecosystem. When I was at boAt, we collaborated with RCB in IPL to create first of its kind takeover of any sporting venue in India with augmented reality where boAt smartwatches popped out from the cricket stadium giving a mesmerizing experience to the user.

The future of football marketing in India looks exceptionally promising. Recent analysis by the Broadcast Audience Research Council (BARC) revealed that the Indian Super League reached a record audience of more than 130 million viewers during the 2021 season. The league has surpassed previous seasons in terms of ratings, viewing time, and more, indicating a growing interest and engagement among football fans.

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Sunil Chhetri is a household name now. He has about 6 million followers on Instagram itself. But there are other players emerging from Indian football that everyone can take notice of. In this exciting era of Indian football, a new generation of stars has emerged, captivating fans with their exceptional skills. Players like Sahal Abdul Samad, Ashique Kuruniyan, Lallianzuala Chhangte, Udanta Singh, and Sandesh Jhingan are making their mark on the sport and offer valuable assets for brands looking to associate with Indian football’s rising stars. By partnering with these players, brands can tap into the passion of young football enthusiasts, build connections with fans, and contribute to the development of Indian football. Now is the time to embrace these new stars and be part of their remarkable journey.

  • Sahal Abdul Samad, often hailed as the “Indian Messi,” possesses mesmerizing dribbling abilities and playmaking skills that have earned him a significant following among fans. 
  • Ashique Kuruniyan, known for his explosive pace and attacking prowess, brings an electrifying energy to the game, creating memorable moments on the field.
  • Udanta Singh’s exceptional speed and precision crosses have established him as one of the most exciting wingers in the country. 
  • Lallianzuala Chhangte, with his blistering speed and eye for goal, has become a force to be reckoned with in Indian football.
  • Sandesh Jhingan, brands can tap into the passion, energy, and aspirations of young football enthusiasts

The time is ripe for brands to recognize the immense potential of Indian football and be part of its journey towards further success. Just as consumers are noticing, brands too should seize this opportunity to invest, support, and be a significant presence in Indian football.

This article is penned by Sushant Sharma, Independent Director, Inmark Exports.

Disclaimer: The article features the opinion of the author and does not necessarily reflect the stance of the publication.

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