Dearton Thomas Hector
The five interlocked rings in blue, yellow, black, green and red are among the most recognizable logos in the world today. As more than 11,000 athletes from 204 countries strive to get faster, higher and stronger in the 30th edition of the modern Olympic Games in London, brands from India are trying their bit to cheer the largest Indian contingent ever to the biggest sporting show on earth.
The Olympics brand is the second-biggest in the world, valued at $45 billion, according to a recent study by consultancy firm Brand Finance. It trails only Apple Inc, which is worth $67 billion. No wonder then that brands from India want to associate with the Olympics in one way or the other.
Samsung India, which launched the 'Samsung Olympic Ratna' programme to provide scholarships to eight Indian athletes who qualified for the London Olympics 2012, is betting big. The company is a partner of the Indian contingent and has announced a reward of Rs 20 lakh, Rs 15 lakh and Rs 10 lakh for winners of gold, silver and bronze medals, respectively. "After Abhinav Bindra won gold in 2008 at Beijing, interest for Olympics in India has been going up. This is giving us confidence to associate with brand Olympics more than ever before," says Rahul Saighal, Chief Marketing Officer at Samsung India.
Special: London Olympics
Amul, the dairy cooperative, is milking the opportunity by becoming the 'Olympic Partner' for the Indian contingent. Amul, famous for its timely and funny print and banner ads, has come up with a special TV ad for the Olympics featuring the quintessential 'Amul girl'. State-run Oil and Natural Gas Corporation is the other main sponsor, while noodles brand Top Ramen and sportswear brand Dida are the co-sponsors.
For the first time in the history of Olympic broadcasting in India, a satellite television channel will have the telecast rights apart from the national broadcaster Doordarshan. ESPN-Star Sports will broadcast the games on ESPN, Star Sports and ESPN HD. "Hero MotoCorp, Tata DoCoMo and Airtel Digital have signed on as the sponsors for the Olympics broadcast. BMW, Nivea and Samsung have come on board as spot buyers," says Sanjay Kailash, Executive Vice President, ESPN Software India Pvt Ltd. "We have already sold more than 80 per cent of the available advertising inventory and we are in discussions with multiple clients to sell the balance available inventory," he says.
Media planners, however, told Business Today that the ad rates are much lower for the Olympics compared with cricket tournaments such as the Indian Premier League or the ICC World Cup. The rates are learned to be in a range of Rs 25,000 to Rs 30,000 for a 10-second slot, compared with the IPL's Rs 5 lakh to Rs 6 lakh.
"The timing of the opening ceremony is a bit off for Indian viewers, considering it is past midnight. But as ESPN-Star is broadcasting it and as there is so much marketing buzz around it, this edition of the Olympics seems to be more exciting than ever before," says Mona Jain, CEO of VivaKi Exchange, a media buying firm.
Even if the brands don't get much leverage out of the Olympics, it might be a symbolic representation of the sportsman spirit. As the father of the modern Olympics, Pierre de Coubertin, said: "The most important thing is not to win but to take part."