India International Sports Summit: 'Successful brands will be the ones that have an ability to foresee the future'

By Mitra Joshi , afaqs!, Mumbai | In Marketing | March 26, 2010
The panellists at the Sports Summit discussed the importance of building brands and repackaging sports for new media formats

On the second day of the India International Sports Summit in Mumbai, the panellists discussed the significance of brands and repackaging sports for new media platforms.

The panellists were Partha Sinha, managing partner, BBH India; Shekhar Ramamurthy, deputy president, United Breweries Limited; Hass Aminian, director, Sportfive Group; and Atul Pande, CEO, Zee Sports Business.

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Ramamurthy started the discussion by stating that the future of sports depends on today's kids; and since Indian kids are digitally inclined, things relevant to children and sports should be established. Otherwise, a whole generation would be lost.

He further stated that brands should always be pertinent on the digital front, because brands are traditional in nature. Also, they use sports to build their image; therefore, the maximum use of technology should be made to reach a wider audience. Successful brands will be the ones that have an ability to foresee the future.

Sinha explained that brand owners always look for beneficial content. Today, the digital world makes content out of live sports, and things are just a click away for people. On another note, he added that demographics are almost an approximation in a country like India. Through this, sports allow people to build affinity groups.

Pande said that the lack of 3G in India is a kind of drawback. However, he added that even though the Middle East is far ahead in digital content than India; proper revenues are still not pouring in. People watch sports on the small device only when the television set is not available. The content is looked at from a long-term perspective.

Ramamurthy articulated that there seems a war between digital and television, but both will co-exist in future. Twenty years back, people thought that the advent of videocassette recorders (VCRs) would kill the movie industry, but nothing happened. The key is complementing and co-existing in the same space.

The TV experience will be seen on IPTV on a smaller device, but time will let brands adopt the new medium in a positive manner.

Sinha gave an interesting insight into the nature of Indians per se. He said that Indians are armchair specialists and love discussing the pettiest of things possible. Since such discussions are not possible on the television set for long; digital media seems an ideal place to carry on such conversations.

Pande furthered the discussion by saying that 35 per cent of total revenues in Europe comes out of sports. In Mumbai, there is a mobile digital club that gives information almost two hours before the IPL match, and the system has received tremendous response from mobile users.

Aminian said that brands are good communicators to the youth.

Ramamurthy averred that streaming and entertainment on smaller device is fine; but sports is a different ballgame. Brand owners are always fascinated by passion, and a sport is all about passion; to translate the same interface on the digital device is elusive.

The panellists concluded that as of now, social networking sites like Facebook and Twitter have changed the scenario, but there is still a long way to go.