Brand it like Football!


In a country like India, where cricket is embedded in the societal fabric, it gets difficult for other sports to gain recognition. But with the mushrooming talent and training institutes dedicated for sports, football has surely become the ‘new cricket’ in India. The game is going viral on both social networking websites as well as in the experiential domain. It has left a never-ending buzz after the 2014 FIFA World Cup.

From streets to playgrounds to gaming platforms, football rules them all. Elucidating the example of how several Indian brands conceptualized their marketing strategies according to the World Cup, and gained massive fame, EE talks about how some brands engaged their potential customers through the medium of football.

To cite a recent example, Puma became an active part of the Indian football after recently announcing its association with Bengaluru FC (BFC). Declared as the official kit sponsor for the I-League 2014/15 season, the German sports brand will be providing the club with playing kits for both the senior and junior squads of the club.

Available at selected Puma stores in Bengaluru, the kits will feature Puma's Dry Cell technology that is designed to keep the players dry by superior moisture controlling technique, allowing quicker evaporation, with contrast piping on the sides, it had ergonomic design for comfort.

Not only sports brands but even insurance companies rely on the game of football to build better connect with the customers. In line with the FIFA World Cup frenzy that just settled its buzz a month back, Bharti AXA Life Insurance organized its annual party for 250 employees at The Club in Mumbai. Brazil being the host nation for the World Cup, the theme selected for the event was a mix of football and samba, namely ‘Viva La Samba'. The event agency behind the initiative was Craftworld Events. The event began with a football juggler visiting the Bharti AXA Life offices and inviting people through his performance, for the event later in the day.

The venue was designed with a mix of carnival and football themes. Employees while entering the venue were greeted in an area designed like a football field. Every guest was provided with a prop to dress according to the theme of the event. Several football matches were played at the venue to engage the audience at large. An out of the box initiative by Bharti AXA Life Insurance managed to trigger the football zeal and gather the attention of many.

Riding on the football fervor,; the play-to-bid auction site for flights and travel products launched a ‘5–a–side Corporate Football League 2014’, in association with the Hindustan Football Club.

The football matches were played with 5–a–side teams, including one goal keeper and each match extended to 30 minutes duration. A league cum knock-out format tournament permitted only those who were full-time permanent executives based out of Delhi NCR and below 25 years of age. The Corporate Football League winners were awarded prizes of up to INR 5 Lac. All the 32 teams were divided in 8 groups comprising of 4 members each. The Rankings of the tournament were based on the number of goals and number of points gained by each team.

Speaking on the initiative, Kunal Mittal, Founder and CEO,, commented:

Though India is undoubtedly a cricket crazy nation, there is no denying of the fact that the FIFA World Cup extravaganza is the flavor of the season and Football does command a huge fan-following. Through this action packed ‘ Corporate Football League’, our attempt is to further build up the revelry and reach out to the soccer addict youngsters working in corporate organizations.

The event concluded with a prize distribution. Few of the categories were best dressed team, team having the best sporting spirit, individual prizes to the best players etc. The grand evening also witnessed LIVE performances by celebrated artists, followed by a multi-cuisine dinner.

Another football fiesta held in Goa by Vodafone and Goa Football Development Center (GFDC), which managed to promote the sport at 18 GFDC Centers with the help of various crowd engaging activities like merchandising, branding and entertainment shows.

Livewire and Promos the event agency behind the execution of the football fiesta created an hour-long capsule every week to summarize the highlights of all the matches played during the week, while the entire final match was screened live. Various contests were held throughout the week for example best football snack, canvas painting competitions and a few more activities related to football. By the end of the week merchandise, props and prizes were distributed to the contest winners.

Managing to gather the attention of a massive crowd, the finale saw more than 2,000 kids across the centers. The event managed to unite the village community and celebrate the spirit of football in the state of Goa.

Not only hosting events around football, brands are also partnering with football clubs in order to strengthen the passion for football around the world. Panasonic has collaborated with FC Barcelona on its marketing activities for three years. Since April 2013, Panasonic has been executing promotional activities in the global promotion of Viera as the “FC Barcelona Official TV”. The official TV includes the demonstration of 3D match footage in stores, goods campaigns and shop front displays along with enhancing the club’s identity on social networking websites.

In its global promotion Panasonic has released Star Generator- smartphone camera app by which one can see himself/herself either on the headlines of a newspaper or TV lined up along with FC Barcelona star players like Messi and Neymar Jr.

Another technology devised was Barca Clock - the PC screen saver that enables one to enjoy photos of FC Barcelona star players in action or during practice sessions played with some great tunes.

Sports have always been a great platform for brands to host their experiential campaigns. Considering the amount of audience it gathers it is quite a profitable prospect for brands to invest in sports. Speaking of which McDonalds introduced its world famous ‘FIFA World Cup Player Escort Program’ in India.

In this initiative the brand provided one lucky child within the age group of 6-10 years, with an opportunity to not only meet their football heroes, but hold their hands and escort them on to the field of play at the biggest football event on Earth – 2014 FIFA World Cup.

By simply purchasing a HAPPY MEAL (between April 1 to 30, 2014); and giving a missed call to a dedicated number; to punch in the ‘code’ received along with the purchase, kids got the chance to fulfill their dreams. Participants were asked a FIFA related question; and the ones who gave all correct answers were qualified for the lucky draw. One lucky winner from the draw was awarded an-all expense paid trip along with a parent/guardian to FIFA World Cup in Brazil. Serving as an Official Sponsor and Official Restaurant for FIFA since 1994, McDonald this year also arranged several experiential activities for children in Rio.

It is right to say that cricket has been dominating Indian sports for decades now, but football is not far behind. With its increasing viewership and popularity amongst the youngsters, brands find it an appropriate sport to invest their budgets in and enhance their association with the sport to leverage their identity.

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