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Sports: A Catalyst In Strategic Community Growth

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The last few months have made the internet a slightly more visually appealing place than it has been for quite some time now, especially when it comes to inspirational’, ‘motivational’ or just human interest story telling.

The digital audio-visuals are compelling with real stories of grit, determination and focus, which all lead to one road with success as the end destination. Right from a major apparel brand launching an amazing music video to converting a very commonplace Hindi phrase into a brand led advertisement, scores of brands have jumped on the bandwagon of ‘content’ and ‘Cause’ marketing through sport this year.

And that is anybody’s guess as to why. Along with increased CSR funding in sports, India has sent her largest Olympic contingent to the 2016 Olympic Games it is a matter of pride and also getting your money’s worth while riding this Olympic sized wave!

Recently when South Africa played their fourth ODI against England at Johannesburg, to everyone’s surprise the Proteas turned up in a pink kit instead of their traditional green one. This was done to support World Cancer Day which was on the 4th of February. The ODI was called ‘Pink ODI’ to engage and create awareness amongst the spectators about breast cancer.

This is an exemplary example of cause marketing through sport where the campaign wasn’t anchored on a brand but the cause itself. On the other hand, a brand like Tata Salt, who is an official sponsor to the IOA, released a series of ads talking about ‘Desh ka namak’ and the pride that an athlete brings to the country.

Sport has the power to unite, inspire, seed hope and inculcate the habit of never giving up.  It is the greatest source of entertainment for consumers and one of the most prevalent forms of communication. The uncertainty in outcome creates a huge demand for sport and many brands have recognized it. What is fascinating is that companies no longer only want to be perceived as sellers but they have started to associate cause in which they believe.

Take for example; one of the greatest clubs in the world, Manchester United with the biggest fan base in the world has not limited their presence on the field but has impacted lives. Manchester United Foundation uses football to engage and inspire young people to build a better life for themselves and the community they live in.

Through this, the foundation has raised close to £104 million. The foundation works closely with Aon, sponsor of training grounds of Manchester United Football club to bring a change to the community.

The new way of engaging the consumer with brands and adding value to the sport is through cause marketing. Marketers have used sports as a platform to create awareness, engage communities and raise funds for the cause that is close to their heart or what they feel is impactful and will bring people to support it.

In today’s era, it is essential for a brand to be socially responsible. With so much online chatter about giving back to the society and being a harbinger of change in any form, it is important for consumers to know that brands are not here for just profit, but also to make an impact in society for the better.

An example close to home is the ‘IndusInd Bank Para champions programme’ in association with GoSports Foundation. The programme supports the development of 15 Para athletes. Their non- banking vertical has supported the upcoming shooting stars of our country by offering jobs at their branches through the M.P Shooting academy program. The vertical is also used as a client and employee engagement tool through constant use of content marketing.

In India, cause marketing can be a great way of bringing community together through sports. An example of which is an unconventional sport, kabaddi getting its fair share of popularity in a cricket driven country. Kabaddi popularized as a sport because of the community engagement.

It has managed to shape the lives of many players associated with it and further creating opportunities for many. The future of cause marketing looks bright, with engaging content and right cause; brands can communicate with their consumers not just as a seller of products but as a motivator of change.

Sanjeev-Anand-e1460381468221
The writer, Sanjeev Anand is the Country Head – Commercial Banking and in-charge of Sports Vertical, IndusInd Bank and an avid sports enthusiast.

Views of the author are personal and do not necessarily represent the website’s views.

Main Image Courtesy: Indian Express