Indian cricket team's captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni figured on Forbes list of world's 100 highest paid athletes with earnings totaling to $30 million last year. On the other hand, a bunch of differently-abled athletes have to rely on crowdfunding to support their training to qualify for Paralympics 2016, to be held in Rio de Janeiro. It's no revelation that not all sports in India enjoy the same pedestal as cricket. Some function without even the basic infrastructure.
The Paralympic Committee of India (PCI) has recently received a double blow with the International Paralympic Committee (IPC) handing it a suspension for an internal squabble, and the Union Sports Ministry issuing a show cause notice over the alleged 'poor conduct' of the 15th National para-athletics championship in Ghaziabad in March.
Realising the state of affairs, actor Hrithik Roshan, who owns a lifestyle brand HRX in association with e-commerce platform Myntra, decided to raise Rs. 2 million through crowdfunding platform Keeto for four athletes.
A sale was also conducted on Myntra.com on April 29, in which every penny spent on HRX line of products was contributed towards the cause.
The brand has rolled out a campaign urging consumers to support the cause. Titled 'Mission Paralympics 2016', the video is a part of the brand's campaign 'Defeat Defeat'. The video is over a minute long and features four athletes who HRX is supporting through this campaign. Sharath Gayakwad (Para-swimming), Niranjan Mukundan (Para-swimming), Sakina Khatun (Power lifting) and Rajender Rahelu (Power lifting) are featured in the video, sweating it out and preparing aggressively for the mega sporting event scheduled next year. The video, in the end, appeals to consumers to support the cause.
Each para-athlete's annual expense comes to approximately Rs. 5,00,000 each, and this campaign intends to raise crucial support for the four mentioned above.
The HRX brand was conceptualised by Hrithik Roshan and Afsar Zaidi, founder of Exceed Entertainment, a multi-platform entertainment management company. The brand is pitched as a casual wear brand focussed on fashion and fitness. HRX debuted online in 2013 through an exclusive partnership with Myntra.com, which also manufactures the merchandise.
Exceed Entertainment retails the brand through on-ground stores across the country. The firm targets online sales of 100 crore in the first three years.
Cause and Effect
While experts from the industry appreciate the effort by the brand, they notice that the initiative was not well promoted and lacked effective execution.
"Flash sales need strong marketing support to trigger a real frenzy. There was just one mention on April 27th and not a single mention on Myntra's Facebook page on the date of the event," he points out.
Explaining further, Uboweja notes that HRX, like most other private labels, suffers from a poor brand definition. While it is trying to create a new category called Extreme Casuals, its merchandise is simply casual and the branding says 'fitness focussed'.
"The campaign is directed towards sports. There is complete chaos as far as brand definition is concerned," he notes, adding that it's too naive for HRX to focus on CSR to build its brand equity.
He supports this view with examples of Nike Better World's campaign and the Puma Vision campaign which went beyond a flash sale initiative to convince people that they care for sustainability.
Pratik Gupta, co-founder and director - new business and innovation, FoxyMoron, highlights that, although the thought for the campaign comes from a good place, the brand connect in the campaign is missing.
Gupta lists the essentials for a good CSR campaign, "find a cause that your brand should stand for, the extension of the brand messaging should seamlessly lead into the cause, the cause should be the winner, but the brand should subtly be a part of it; actually do good and activate people (go beyond buying/sharing/liking)."
He believes that initiatives like these are fabulous for other sports, especially athletes. Sometimes, citizens/brands end up doing a lot more for such causes than the Government.