It has been more & #BANNER1 & # than five decades since India last qualified for the FIFA World Cup in 1950 or had a significant win at the Olympics. But football still has a huge fan following in the country, especially in states such as West Bengal, Kerala, Punjab and Goa. In fact, if there is a sport which enjoys mass appeal in India after cricket, it is football.
Currently, football fever is running high, thanks to the FIFA World Cup, which will be held from June 9 to July 9, 2006. And marketers are busy trying to cash in on this craze for football.
Nokia will hold a nationwide freestyle football (futsal) tournament, called 'Defend Your Turf', in which the Indian winner will defend the Brazilian boys. Adidas has launched a nationwide search for four kids (aged 8-13 years) who will be the FIFA Fair Play Flag Bearers at the FIFA World Cup.
The Nokia futsal competition, which is being organised by 141 Worldwide, the marketing arm of Bates Enterprise, is set to begin in four cities, Delhi, Bangalore, Kolkata and Mumbai, from June 7. The finals will be held in Kolkata on June 17.
The event will be held in high-traffic youth hangouts, such as Ansal Plaza in Delhi, City Centre Mall parking in Kolkata, Juhu Beach in Mumbai and Garuda Mall in Bangalore.
Nirmallya Roy Chowdhury, AV-P, 141 Worldwide, agrees that this event will help Nokia leverage this year's football fever, but he asserts that this will be an annual event for Nokia. "We plan to make it a bigger event next year. As this was the first year, we decided to play a little safe."
But why football and not cricket which holds bigger appeal in India? Chowdhury says, "We wanted to break away from the clutter, but we also wanted to be associated with an event which appeals to the youth. Football is certainly one event which still drives people crazy."
Devinder Kishore, director, marketing, Nokia India, adds, "This gives us an opportunity to connect with the Indian youth, which Nokia has always tried to do."
In fact, Nokia has also launched a mobile phone, the Nokia 3250, which contains a football game.
As per industry estimates, Nokia plans to spend around Rs 4-5 crore on its futsal initiative.
Meanwhile, Adidas has launched a nationwide search to select four kids who will get the unique opportunity to walk the stadium with the flag in their hands at the opening ceremony of the FIFA World Cup. The search will begin soon in 1,200 schools, under the name, Learning Ground.
That is not all. Adidas also plans to launch an under-16 football tournament, which will be held in seven cities. The grand finale is scheduled to be held in football city Kolkata on May 28.
Andreas Gellner, MD, Adidas India, comments on the initiative, "As a company, Adidas has a long tradition of meeting and exceeding the needs of footballers on and off the pitch. We started working with FIFA in 1970, when we unveiled our first ball for the World Cup in Mexico."
Gellner adds, "India is almost a virgin territory when it comes to football, and these initiatives serve as an opportunity to cement our category leadership in football here with the current generation."
Coca-Cola, which is also a sponsor of the FIFA World Cup, has launched a contest called 'Gyarah Hindustani' on May 11. As per the contest, 11 Indians will get a chance to see any one of the World Cup matches live in Germany, provided they answer correctly the questions printed on the reverse of the label of a 500ml Coca-Cola bottle. The winners also get to enjoy a stay of two nights-three days free in Germany. TV and radio promotions for the contest are already on.
Meanwhile, Nike, the other footwear major, has launched the Jogo Bonita (Play Beautiful) campaign to celebrate the spirit of football. In the five advertisements under the campaign, five values of football are personalised. 'Joy' features Ronaldinho; 'Honour', Thierry Henry; 'Heart', Wayne Rooney and team-mates Rio Ferdinand and Tim Howard; 'Skill' is a duel between Cristiano Ronaldo and Zlatan Ibrahimovic; and 'Team' reflects the typical Brazilian preparation for a match, with Ronaldinho, Ronaldo, Adriano, Robinho, Cicinho and Roberto Carlos playing various musical instruments.
With street markets flooded with fake soccer apparel, Westside, a retail chain, has also introduced soccer wear in its stores to celebrate FIFA fever.
© 2006 agencyfaqs!