With the Indian populace searching for alternative entertainment avenues to cricket and Bollywood, alternate sports and entertainment options are rapidly becoming growing generic platforms for marketers in India today
While the movement in marketing away from cricket and Bollywood and towards other sports started almost 10 years ago, it is only in the last four years that this paradigm shift has truly begun to gather momentum. The foremost reason of this shift is of course the increasing disposable incomes available in the hands of millions of paying customers, who have been saturated by often pointless cricket and by the disappointing entertainment that is being churned out by Bollywood. A significant percentage of this customer base is constituted of a more urbanised ‘discerning customer’, who is no longer satisfied by plain vanilla entertainment, but who today, demands the loudest possible bang for his buck. As more money comes into other sports and alternate entertainment avenues and, by so doing, empowers these alternate entertainment options to market themselves better to this class of unsatisfied customers.

The second is increase in the risk taking appetite of marketers in alternate entertainment avenues as they become a valuable generic platform. The relationship between marketers and alternate generic platforms is a unique one, for in effect, it is the monetary input of marketers that allows the creation of alternate platforms, which these marketers then themselves exploit to showcase their products. As more and more discerning customers shift away from cricket and Bollywood to these developing alternate platforms, the platforms themselves will become self sustaining, permanent, valuable and therefore of immense interest to other marketers, who will view these alternate avenues as high value propositions through which to market their products. Inevitably, the effect of these self sustaining alternatives will be to support a vibrant ecosystem based on the financial wherewithal of an increasingly vociferous class of paying customer, where all stakeholders will benefit from symbiotic relationships.

The third important change that is already taking place is recognition of the fact that neither cricket nor Bollywood offer any brand the chance of uncluttered brand recall. For instance, while the most ardent of cricket lovers will be hard pressed to name either the sponsor of the last India series played in India, or the name of the various sponsors on the shirts of an IPL team, or the brands that are endorsed by Shah Rukh Khan, all football fans of this country will unhesitatingly identify ONGC as the sponsor of the I-league.

Brand recall is the most fundamental need for any marketer spending money on the promotion of his products, and where there is no brand recall, there is little point expending money. With cricket and Bollywood having reached their saturation points, more and more marketers are beginning to look beyond these two avenues for the advertisement of their products. The entry of Monet Ispat and Videocon into Boxing, of Coco Cola and Musli Power into Football, of the UB Group into Formula 1, and of MandM into Basketball are but a few examples of the growing recognition for alternate platforms.

Pertinently, even in this paradigm shift, there is little change in the fundamental tenets of advertising. Recognised brands entering into other sports are doing so through sports with which their brand shares a connection. For instance, Coca Cola (a youth brand) sponsors the energy and excitement of school football while Monet Ispat (a steel company) sponsors the toughness and solidity of boxing to leverage their associations with these alternate platforms for advertising. Of course, bring young platforms, they offer advertisers the opportunity to connect at low costs, thereby promising higher returns on investment and satisfying the basic commercial objective of each brand.
In conversation with Vareen Ray

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Source : IIPM Editorial, 2010.

An Initiative of IIPM, Malay Chaudhuri and Arindam chaudhuri (Renowned Management Guru and Economist).

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