Tis the Olympics season: What value the Paris Olympics hold for Indian advertisers

Aligning with the Olympics allows brands to associate themselves with values like excellence, unity, and perseverance, which resonate deeply with audiences worldwide

Vishesh Sharma
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New Delhi: Cricket is India’s love language, as seen in countless reels, excited fans swarming Delhi Airport, and the throngs cheering Team India along Marine Drive after the great World Cup final win.  With this passion for cricket among Indian fans, advertising on cricket is seen as something that cannot be ignored or avoided by brands. 

While cricket's charm is primarily regional, the Olympics captivate a global audience, featuring a myriad of sports and attracting millions of viewers worldwide. This global reach allows brands to connect with a diverse demographic. The Olympics symbolise international unity and human achievement, offering brands a chance to align with these universal values. 

As we approach the Paris Olympic Games, kicking off on July 26, 2024, brands have a unique opportunity to invest in one of the world's most celebrated events. Major players like Bharat Petroleum Corporation Limited (BPCL), Reliance Foundation, Adani, Aditya Birla Capital, Yes Bank, Dream Set Go, Herbal Life, EBCO, Borosil, Amul, Puma, Tasva, Inox Leisure, and others have already hopped on the bandwagon.

Following India's impressive performance in the last Olympics, CW Games, and Asian Games, the upcoming 2024 Olympics is poised to draw even higher interest. 

“The Olympics as a property has always attracted interest from advertisers. Beyond the prestige of associating with one of the largest sporting events globally, advertisers can leverage the positive sentiment in India and its growth story in sports,” said Simanta Mahanta, Sr VP of IPG Mediabrands.

According to Siddharth Raman, CEO of Sportz Interactive, there are two key opportunities for Indian advertisers, given the substantial investments by top partners in the Olympic program. “First, creating content with inherent viral potential, leveraging the democratising power of the internet. Second, using the Olympics to craft unique content or stories that stand out and gain visibility. Even a 30-second film can make a significant impact if it has the potential to go viral and resonate globally,” Raman explained. 

Consumers are increasingly discerning about whether a brand is genuinely supportive of athletes or merely capitalising on Olympic success.

Raman insisted, “For brands considering involvement now, it’s crucial to adopt a long-term perspective. This means not just supporting athletes during the Olympics but continuing this support through to the next Olympics. The strategy should focus on a 3-4 year plan with the athlete, rather than only endorsing them when they perform well. Brands need to commit to sustained support to truly resonate with the audience.” 

Opportunity for smaller advertisers 

With patriotism topping the chart among emotions, brands will leave no opportunity to latch on to these sentiments. It is interesting to note that the Olympics represent incredible advertising opportunities for smaller brands as well as shaping the event as an inclusive space. 

According to Raman, "JioCinema will offer bespoke packages for smaller brands tailored to their target markets and demographics. These packages will be more affordable than spot buying during the IPL or World Cup, enabling smaller brands to effectively reach their relevant audiences." 

Echoing Raman’s sentiments, brand consultant Nisha Sampath from  Bright Angels Consulting LLP, said, “Many regional brands can't afford the media spending required for the IPL. The Olympics provide an opportunity to break through the clutter surrounding cricket. With athletes representing their regions and cities, smaller brands can easily leverage this connection. I've noticed many brands in categories like cement and pipes partnering with Olympic celebrities. The attributes these brands want to communicate, such as tenacity and perseverance, align perfectly with the values of these athletes.” 

Going beyond the regular celebrity endorsers 

Successful Olympic advertising requires more than just a hefty investment. From understanding strict advertising regulations and aligning with the Olympic spirit to creating culturally resonant campaigns and engaging a diverse, worldwide audience, there are several key considerations to ensure that brands’ Olympic advertising strategy stands out and resonates on a global scale. 

Advertising for the Olympics, brands need to keep in mind the signs of growing fatigue around conventional film stars and social media influencers. As Sampath perceives it, “A lot of these film stars and influencers are now overexposed, but sports stars continue to remain very high on audience love as well as credibility. People admire the qualities of a sportsperson in action. So, across many categories, the Olympics represents a great opportunity for advertisers.” 

Cricket has shown brands the range of sponsorship opportunities that exist. Every piece of real estate except for the skin such as the back and front of the helmet, the pads, and the jerseys, is enveloped with the logos of different brands. 

Elaborating on the same, Sampath said, “Brands could delve into sports, particularly ones that have repetition and rounds. And they can brand particular shots; for example, if it's a relay race, one particular section of the relay race could be branded by a particular brand.” 

Maximising ROI through advertising on JioCinema and Sports18

Viacom18, having secured the media rights for the 2024 Olympics, will broadcast the event on Sports18 and stream it on JioCinema for free.

To advertise on Sports18, advertisers will have to spend between Rs 1.5 and Rs 1.65 lakh for a ten-second ad, according to sources aware of the ad rates.

JioCinema is selling CTV ads on an FCT basis, ranging between Rs 90,000 - 1,25,000 per ten seconds. For mobile advertising on the 2024 Olympic Games, JioCinema is asking for Rs 250 - 275 per CPM.

Mahanta said, “Viacom 18's decision to offer Olympics coverage for free on mobile and CTV platforms presents a significant opportunity for digital engagement. Advertisers can leverage the social media handles of platforms like JioCinema.” 

Sources told that the cost for an associate partner for the games ranges between Rs 12 - 15 crore, while the cost for co-representing begins at Rs 18 crore and may go up to Rs 22 crore.

Viacom18 is offering around 20 specialised feeds, such as a curated India-specific feed, a world feed, a women-centric feed, and a sport category-wise feed. Advertisers can target specific audience segments during key events.  

“Advertising and sponsorship opportunities could include associating with live broadcasts across TV, mobile, and CTV platforms, potentially including custom content integration during studio shows. However, advertising during individual segments within events may not be feasible,” commented Mahanta. 

“Beyond these, sports portals and news platforms offer additional avenues to engage with Indian audiences effectively,” he added.

Need for media-agnostic strategy

Social media will play a crucial role in Olympic advertising due to the significant presence of Gen-Z, who frequently engage in sporting activities. Brands need to prioritise a digital-first strategy. According to Raman, “The social media platforms that will matter are Instagram and YouTube. That's where you'll see the most consumption from sports fans. Nearly 80% of all engagements from sports fans occur on Instagram.”

Conversely, Sampath advises brands not to overlook traditional mediums such as outdoor ads and pole kiosks to build excitement and encourage people to watch the events. “While social media is important, if you have a star, you'll want to urge people to watch that star perform. A 360-degree approach will help brands gain more mileage,” said Sampath. 

Moment marketing, which involves leveraging real-time events and trends to create relevant and engaging content, can be a powerful tool to increase brand value. Etching its importance in the Olympics, Raman said, “Moment marketing in sports is the ability to be a part of some iconic moments and have a POV on that. But opportunities are plenty if brands can break it down into planning in advance based on the schedule and knowing that India has chances to do well.”

To wrap it up, it will be interesting to see how brands support athletes while capitalising on the event and creating compelling narratives and stories in the middle.

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