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Sports Marketing | The evolution of relationship between brands & athletes

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Athletes: A vehicle of best sports branding

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The Indian sports industry is one of the most adored and highly esteemed platforms for social interactions not only in India but worldwide. Bearing in mind the contemporary media culture, sports dignitaries are seen not just as athletes but as the social influencers, possessing ideological values and cultural meanings, which best showcase the affinity of individual personalities and provoke inclination and desire towards their personal poise in relation to sports marketing. The sports events captivate the heart and minds of the audience and give rise to numerous opinions. The concept of athlete branding & sports marketing has taken a new form and is emerging as a multi functional aspect of marketing and endorsement.

Athletes and brands share a long drawn history, which has made their relationship more prominent overtime. Thereby, athletes are a medium for advertising and promoting popular brands and their products. Die hard fans and people perceive athletes as an epitome of perfection and their idols, which in turn raise the popularity of the sponsored brands of the athletes. 

Sports Marketing | KreedOn
Image Source: The Branded Athlete

What is Sports Marketing?

Sports marketing is an art of enhancing and aggrandising fan awareness and allegiance; enlightened values and standards; and persuasive relations for an athlete. Athletes are considered as the cultural products that can be sold as brands and for instance, it enables them to build their personal brands, outside the umbrella of their sporting legacy. In addition, India is a home to the best sports marketing such as Nivia, Cosco, Adidas, PUMA, Tyka and so on, that are in competence with global giants. The controversial relationship between sports marketing and athletes has led to diverse changes in the domain of sports culture. It has empowered the significance of associations established between athletes and the people, who perceive them as their role models and it could only be made possible through the culture of branding.

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It has raised awareness about the sports industry over the last few decades and grabbed the attention of a huge audience. This in turn, is equally beneficial for both the athletes and the brands advertising them.  

Sports marketing in India & global competition

India is a representative of massive sports brands that pitch in along with international brands to support and promote Indian athletes with sponsorship deals. The Indian market is flooded with top-notch Indian as well as international brands that have a long-drawn history in the world of sports. The Olympic games are a huge sporting event, which catches the attention of several notable and recognised brands, who want to be engaged and associated with the prestigious event. Therefore, the sponsorship deals & proper sports marketing strategies are essential for boosting the existent relationship between athletes and the brands.

Sports Marketing | KreedOn

India is an abode to numerous small and large-scale manufacturers of sports equipment and products. It is a lucrative business in India to produce a variety of sports goods such as athletic wear, helmets, rackets, sports shoes, balls, etc. to fulfill the requirements of fans and athletes themselves. Many Indian brands have skyrocketed their progress and are equally enticing as the international brands being promoted in India like Adidas, Nike, Puma, Reebok, etc. 

Sports Marketing strategies by Adidas 

It is a German multinational company that was formally registered on 18 August 1949 as Adidas AG, by Adolf ‘Adi’ Dassler. The company is thereby named after him and it is one of the leading sports brands in India. As soon as in 1989, Adidas entered into a licenced agreement with Bata and became operational in 1996 with the establishment of Adidas India marketing Pvt. Ltd. In no time, Sachin Tendulkar became its brand ambassador and empowered the brand furthermore. India has a huge growth market and the brand itself is a great success in India. It promotes and produces multiple sports goods for different games, ranging from football, basketball, cricket, baseball, golf, tennis, kabaddi, etc.

It manufactures a variety of sports apparels for the aspiring people and athletes. During the Indian Premier League (IPL), Adidas sponsored the majestic teams of Mumbai Indians from 2008-2014 and Delhi Daredevils from 2008-2013 besides which it was also an accredited sponsor of Pune Warriors in 2011 and 2012. Other than this, Adidas has backed the Indian Olympics with offering several promising deals to the athletes. One such and recent instance is where the golden star, Hima Das was offered an endorsement deal from Adidas India. It aims at producing high quality athletic products to make athletes perform better along with raising awareness and uplifting sporting spirit in youth. 

Sports Marketing strategies by Nike 

It is an American multinational corporation, equipped with design and development, production and sales marketing of athleisure. Nike is one of the world’s largest suppliers of athletic equipment like shoes and apparels. It was launched on 25 January 1964 by Bill Bowerman and Phil Knight. The brand formally acquired its title ‘Nike’ on 30 May 1971 and it had been a part of India for more than a decade now through its seven years license agreement with Sierra enterprises. It sponsors prestigious sporting teams and renowned athletes across the world. Nike operates in a pristine manner and supports the Indian athletes by sponsoring them. It has been an official sponsor of the Indian Cricket Team since 2005 and it sponsored the Indian football team as well. Nike’s trademark, ‘Just Do It’ captivates the audience and emphasizes the message to never give up.

READ | Sports & Entertainment are Leading the Way for Young India’s Digital Revolution

Other than these brands, Puma and Reebok have also flourished in the Indian subcontinent over the last few decades and are one of the finest sponsored Indian brands endorsed by athletes. They are associated with numerous domestic as well as international sporting events across the world. Athletes are a major source for marketing and advertising of the brands mentioned above. At the same time, it is not surprising that people have a greater fondness of these international brands over Indian brands. Brands are a product of western globalisation. And people should understand the vitality to promote them, for raising opportunities and building concrete ambitions for the youth. 

Brand Promotion during Olympics

Indian athletes are backed by esteemed brands from across the world. Their partnership empowers the Indian youth and strives towards a positive change. It is a crucial strategy to accelerate sporting progress along with raising opportunities. Several brands promote sports culture. They use athletes as a tool to embrace the unrivalled potential of aspirants & their brand promotion. For instance, advertising is the main medium of sports marketing that enlightens the key aspects of a brand in relation to athletes and an aim to build a strong sporting nation.

However, the capabilities of the aspirants are underestimated by their families. Their potential remains unrecognized. But brand promotion provides opportunities for everyone. They use innovative ways to sponsor athletes and educate people for the best of their interests. Apart from the sport brands, Edutech companies like Byju’s and Unacademy also sponsor Indian athletes, which in turn yields positive results for both. The sponsorship deals steal the attention of a large audience. And makes the event a huge success. Both the athletes and brands enjoy the limelight. 

Sports marketing examples: The Unacademy & Sachin ad

Taking the recent Olympic games into consideration, India anticipated its hopes on a 228 member contingent. Comprising 119 athletes to compete in 18 sports. In the wake of the event, top notch brands backed the Indian contingent to represent Indian athletes. Puma being one among the others. It sponsored 18 Indian athletes, showcasing the talent of the country in different disciplines like hockey, table tennis, boxing, badminton, etc. Similarly, digital platforms like moj also supported the Indian team at the Olympics. Moreover, the Indian Olympic Association (IOA) endorsed 11 sponsors including Inox group, Raymond, Amul, Nippon Paint, JSW, SRL diagnostics, MPL and so on.

In addition, the Sony Pictures Sports Network was the official broadcaster of the mega event, which further signed up 11 sponsors. Several campaigns were launched to cheer and assist athletes during the game. Many news channels like ABP news and News18 also succeeded the Indian contingent at the Olympics. The hard work and dedication of all participants and their supporters brought in accolades for the nation. 

Sports Marketing strategies by Thumps up

Brands and athletes: Backbone of the sports industry 

The world of sports is bleak and fragmented without a firm relationship between brands and athletes. The Indian sports industry would not have been the same without the presence of either. It has brought forth tremendous changes in the sports altogether. The two have reached the zenith from a scratch. And are still seeking a way to make India a strong sporting nation. Amidst the pandemic, neither did the athletes give up on their hard work and nor did the brands. Besides, they were equipped on the outfront of the Olympics 2020.

The Olympics provided a platform for upsurging the growth of both the athletes and brands in association with each other. The strong interest from the sports sponsorships by brands surpassed the levels seen at the previous Olympic games. The main purpose behind the whole idea is to evolve and promote sports across India. It is a major tool for raising awareness and opportunities for the athletes. Nevertheless, Indian sports has progressed as the younger aspirants show interest in non-cricketing sports as well. The other sports are acquiring fame and attracting advertisers in a framework of national pride and patriotism. 

READ | How To Build A Successful Athlete Brand & Why You Should Start Building One?

The ever-evolving relationship between brands and athletes is the backbone of the Indian sports industry. There is a fair partnership between the two. It is not just the superior acknowledgement and medal prospects that brands want to be associated with. But they form the unparalleled support system of the Indian athletes. They encompass a vision which is far more than profit-making. They explore the golden opportunities together to bring laurels to the nation. 


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