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One can’t get away from cricket in India, says Adidas’ Dhanashree Sowani speaks to Sowani as she takes us through Adidas’ cricket ambitions in India, their latest campaign #III and what cricket and running mean for them in India

Click on the Image to watch the animated video.

To leverage on the cricket frenzy during the Indian Premier League (IPL), sport wear brand Adidas has launched an interesting campaign -- ‘Cricket is now III’ -- with the shortest hash tag #III.

The thought behind creating the smallest hash tag sprung when the team and its creative agency Cheil India were brainstorming. The hash tag ‘triple I’ (written as #III) resonated well with not just the brand but also for what it symbolises for cricket.

Dhanashree Sowani

Dhanashree Sowani, Director, Heartbeat Sports and Outdoor Business Unit, Adidas India said, “That’s how we decided to launch with that. Firstly, we thought it symbolises well with cricket and Adidas. It is absolutely a short hash tag. Secondly, we wanted to talk about our set of athletes – Rohit Sharma, KL Rahul and Rishab Pant.”

The ‘three I’s’ not only stand for cricket but also stand for the three cricket superheroes. Each superhero has a different magic or super power that the brand wanted to talk about. Sharma was for inspiration, Rahul was for imagination and Pant was for innovation.

The campaign kicked off on the Adidas Cricket Facebook page on March 11 with teaser posts that were followed with a video that established #III, as cricket in three characters. The next phase of the campaign saw the unveiling of the superhero avatars of Sharma, Rahul and Pant through animated posts on social media. The digital film cementing the characters and introducing their role in making cricket entertaining again was unveiled on Adidas’ social media platform.

The video animates the three cricketers and takes one through how they use their different powers. The two-minute animated video done by Cheil India, has a song in the background.

Karan Amin, Head, Digital Creative, Cheil India, said, “Cricket has a massive following around the world and matches are happening almost every day. With so many game formats and so many competitions taking place around the world, conversations on the sport are lost amid many long hashtags being used for matches. Most hashtags have team/country names or tournament names, making them really long. This limits characters for users trying to express their views. To own all cricket conversations online and to unify all cricket conversations under one hashtag -- #III was born. #III is the world’s shortest hashtag, the world’s first hashtag that visually represents the very sport itself as well as the brand (Adidas) in an endeavour to own all cricket conversations online.”

On what cricket means for Adidas in India, considering their global focus is on football, Sowani said, “For Adidas, cricket continues to be a very important sport – the true authenticator for us in India. Despite our global focus which is on running and football, in India you can’t do without cricket and we’ve always believed in that and activated cricket whenever and wherever we can. Every year starts with some tournament and IPL is the best time to start the whole cricket season in a big way.”

Globally Adidas has two key sports – running and football and basketball in some cases. The brand has a big business unit called Heartbeat Sport. And that’s where cricket falls for them globally as well. Heartbeat sports are sports which are essentially the heartbeat of select nations – like cricket for India. Sowani said, “One can’t get away from cricket in India. Coming to what our brand stands for – our founder was keen to service every athlete and every sport. We still live up to that. If I have to compare for instance then Nike has really exited all of these other smaller categories. Cricket of course they have some investment; they don’t do much as they focus more on the global big sport. For us, it’s living to the founder vision of serving every athlete.”

This does not mean that business ambitions will be the same for every sport. “We do have a certain role that each category plays. For us, cricket is really more about connecting more to the consumer, more of a brand driving objective. Our ambitions for the sport are obviously not as big as they are for running or football. So in that sense, we’ve been really realistic. We possibly can’t have everyone wear authentic cricket gear every time and everywhere. We’ve grown up with ‘galli cricket’ (street cricket) and it’s not possible that they wear authentic cricket wear.”

When it comes to the business potential for the brand in India, it is obviously limited and the brand does stay authentic. Their footwear is very strong and they want to focus on that. Merchandise and apparel is there but they face a lot of competition in the local market. That’s when Sowani says their ambition has been very realistic.

Adidas uses cricket more from a franchising point of view. The brand had partnered with Sachin Tendulkar for the longest time – for about 15 years. Then they had Virat Kohli for over three years until they finished the partnership last year. But that doesn’t mean that stopped. “We had invited Sharma and Rahul for a football event, and they played football with as much passion if not more than like they play cricket. They’re true athletes. So that is really where we stand with cricket,” she asserted.

The journey for Adidas Cricket has not been easy. Cricket is bought very differently. The people who want to really buy cricket don’t really go to an Adidas exclusive store and look for that. For that, the channel is ready (mostly wholesale), the smaller and specialists stores where people go and buy. That’s where Adidas’ focus is in this unorganised market.

When it comes to advertising for cricket, the brand will keep endorsing cricket and running as their top priorities in India. And of course, come 2018, the brand is already building a football facility in the capital of the country.

The Animated Video:


Client: Adidas

Agency: Cheil India

Creative Digital Head: Karan Amin

Animation: Girgit Studio

Background score: Neon Light Pictures

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