Komal Mehra, head, sports initiatives and associations, Usha International, discusses the brand’s decade-long IPL engagement and how sports have been integral to its marketing initiatives.
The ongoing 2023 edition of the Indian Premier League (IPL), marks consumer durable brand Usha International’s 10th year of association with the Mumbai Indians (MI). Recently, it was announced that Usha is the official partner for the Mumbai Indians. The company’s sports marketing initiatives have been centered on the IPL since 2013.
In an interaction with afaqs!, Komal Mehra, head, sports initiatives and associations, Usha, shares that the company initially wanted to target the Maharashtra market with its MI association. Following the success of this association, Usha also decided to strengthen its association with the IPL further.
Mehra believes that such partnerships need to be recurring in nature for a brand to leave an impact on the viewers’ minds. “It’s an investment which, over the number of years of association, has boosted the brand’s recall. This was one of the reasons we thought of sticking around for the long-term.”
Usha’s marketing strategy this year, on digital as well as television, has evolved, according to Mehra. She explains that Usha is taking a 360- degree marketing approach with the IPL association this year.
The company believes that the streaming of IPL matches on JioCinema, gives brands a chance to filter their audiences better. Highlighting this filtration of the demographic following the action on different platforms, the brand sees a lot of interaction with the youth with the campaigns it runs on its social media handle Usha Play. Advertising on OTT platforms helps it connect with a population over 30 while TVCs help them target potential customers, Mehra asserts.
The brand has shot a TVC with MI players for the 2023 IPL edition to promote its fans. The ad will be released very soon, Mehra informs. Detailing the creative behind the commercial, she says that Usha has a fan called ‘Striker’. The ad features MI batsmen or strikers.
“What’s better than having batsmen Rohit Sharma, Hrithik Shokeen and Jason Behrendorff feature in ad for a product named Striker? The creative for this ad was very apt to market the fan category," she adds.
Mehra says that the company's marketing strategy with the IPL association has evolved on their promotions on social media as well. She informs that in the previous editions of IPL, the company would put out their content on MI's social media handle only. Now, the focus is on developing traction on Usha's own social media handles.
While shooting the TVC, the brand also shot multiple short form content, reels, on social media featuring MI players. "We have some messages from the players where they will be talking about how to stay healthy and fit. Some of this content will also be around players talking about their lives outside the field."
The brand has also come out with multiple contests on their social media handle as well. Mehra says that these contests have helped them better engage with younger audiences, and participants are given MI labelled Usha merchandise. She informs that more such contests would be put out during the season.
Other sports marketing initiatives
Some of Usha’s initiatives include its long-standing association with the Mumbai Indians team, cricket for the differently abled, Ultimate Flying Disc for the lesser privileged, sports for the visually challenged (Athletics, Kabaddi, Judo, and Powerlifting), as well as football.
Talking about how 2023 is different for the brand, in terms of its sports marketing initiatives, Mehra mentions the significance of the WPL on the brand’s marketing agenda for the year. "At Usha, we have been taking strategic steps over the years to eradicate stereotypes by empowering women with various skill sets, whether through our Silai School or via games and sports. Usha as a brand is an avid supporter of women in sports, and the partnership with MI's WPL team has been a step forward in Usha's commitment to empower and uplift the Indian women," she adds.
Its portfolio of products includes items for different genders and personalities. For the brand, the WPL is the right fit, according to her.
“Mithali Raj is our brand ambassador. We’ve always felt that women in sports, need more support. We did a podcast with all the women of the MI team, who shared interesting stories. We’ve heard from all the players about their struggles, how they were not recognised, etc. We always to bring forth the beautiful journeys of these women,” Mehra shares.