“Sport has the power to change the world, it has the power to inspire, it has the power to unite people in a way that little else does.” — Nelson Mandela.
To understand why sport is becoming the first pick for leading brands, we must understand how brand communication has evolved to suit contemporary society. Brand communication is no longer a monologue where the conversation is outwards only. A brand keeps talking about its product and why the consumer needs it. It has changed into a never-ending dialogue, thanks to social media.
Brands no longer want to be restricted to just being a product to be used. They want to be a part of their consumer’s life and want to inspire them to strive for their dreams. This is where sport fits in beautifully.
Sport is unique because it is emotional. It speaks to people on a realm that few other platforms can. It has the ability to emotionally sway us. If our team wins, our bad week becomes better; and if our player loses, a fantastic month is ruined. Amongst these emotional swings lies sport’s most important quality: the ability to inspire and heal.
In 1995, South Africa was on the brink of a civil war. The apartheid regime had ended, Nelson Mandela was elected President, and racial tensions were high. The country also hosted the Rugby World Cup — a sport associated with the racist regime. South Africa won the Cup and in the six weeks that the tournament lasted, the country came together.
Similarly, in 2007, Iraq was devastated by war. It was also the year the Iraqi football team won the AFC Asian Cup. Streets, which people avoided out of fear of being killed, were packed with jubilant children celebrating their country’s victory.
That’s what sport can do. It can light up even the darkest moments. The inspiration it can provide is magical. It gives hope to those that have none. MS Dhoni came from practically nothing to become India’s greatest cricket captain and his triumph has inspired millions — that they too can become whatever they aspire to be.
Our Indian para-athletes showed us at Rio, last year, that life isn’t only about aptitude but also about attitude.
These are the powerful stories that brands want to share. They want their consumers to challenge the status quo and give them the courage to test their convictions. This is why brands are picking sport — because sport inspires.
The author, Sanjeev Anand is 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.
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The CSR Journal Team