The head of marketing speaks about the sports brand's association with cricketer Harmanpreet Kaur, its latest ad campaign and more.
“As a sports brand, PUMA has always supported athletes. We wish to be a part of the journey of athletes who have done wonderfully and are championing the cause of sport in the country,” says Shreya Sachdev, head of marketing, PUMA India.
Taking the brand’s vision forward, its ongoing campaign aims to bridge the gender gap in cricket. Cricket is not just a sports in the country but has become an important part of Indian culture. Players like Sachin Tendulkar, Sourav Ganguly, Virat Kohli, MS Dhoni and Rohit Sharma have attained celebrity status becoming influential figures with brands flocking them with endorsement opportunities.
In this scenario, last month PUMA launched the first leg of its campaign posting a cryptic teaser video of a player taking position at the stumps and quizzed the audience to guess its next brand ambassador.
PUMA tracked comments of consumers on Instagram, Twitter and its native shopping platforms like Puma.com and retail stores. According to the 5000 responses collected over 36 hours, 80% of the consumers surprisingly assumed the brand ambassador to be a male cricketer.
The brand then followed this up with a video that revealed India’s women cricket team’s captain Harmanpreet Kaur as its new brand ambassador.
Talking about the idea behind getting the cricketer on board as an ambassador, Sachdev mentions, “For us, gender has not played any part while onboarding ambassadors. In the past, PUMA has associated with athletes like Mary Kom (boxer), Savita Punia (hockey) and paralympic athlete Avni Lekhara (rifle shooter). The brand has always been there to support these journeys. The campaign is the brand’s commitment to show that it is invested in the sporting ecosystem,” adds Sachdev.
In the second leg of the campaign, PUMA discloses how a Google search about the captain of the Indian cricket team displays only the men’s team skippers like Rohit Sharma and Hardik Pandya whilst unfairly excluding the women’s team captain Kaur.
Elaborating on the campaign, Sachdev says, “One part of the initiative was to get her on board as the brand ambassador but the most important aspect is to ensure that she gets the same kind of visibility and recognition as a man in her position would get.”
The message that the brand attempts to put forward is that women's sports has a lot to offer and Harmanpreet as a cricketer is an absolute legend, states the marketing head.
“This leg of the campaign was part two of our ongoing crusade in ensuring that women’s sport is celebrated at par with men. Our positioning is that cricket is not just a gentleman’s game. Steps like BCCI announcing equal pay and the upcoming women’s IPL are also great moves in this endeavour,” she adds.
The campaign asks people to write about Kaur with hashtags to create maximum footprints so that Google automatically starts acknowledging her name as Indian cricket captain as well as spark conversations that recognise the prominence of women in the sport.
“It is a wake-up call for people that Google does not show Kaur’s name when asked about the Indian Cricket team’s captain. This is because the search engine picks up its results from the algorithm that it receives from users at large,” says Sachdev.
Since ‘captain’ is a non-gendered term, PUMA believes that Google should show up all captains, irrespective of their genders. This campaign will be PUMA’s ongoing initiative and the brand plans to continue to build on this positioning in years to come, informs Sachdev.