The sports brand's MD talks about the recent purpose-driven initiatives, IPL strategy, and more.
A sports-focussed survey by Puma India, and research and analytics firm Nielsen Sports, indicates a huge lag in inspiration in the country to pursue physical fitness, even as the country is witnessing a growth in the adoption of sports culture.
The study dived deep into the country's perception and extent of participation in sports, as well as fitness activities among adults and kids. Based on the report findings, Puma launched a 'Let There Be Sport' campaign, featuring sportsperson Virat Kohli, MC Mary Kom and Sunil Chhetri, to question the conventional mindset that sports is a digression from academics.
Talking about the brand's initiative, Abhishek Ganguly, MD, Puma India and Southeast Asia, says that there's still a deep-rooted mindset that sports is a digression in life and, often, people need to drop sports and focus on more serious things in life, like academics.
"Sports teaches many life skills and is important not just for professional athletes, but in one's daily life too. Our approach has never been to bring the commerciality of selling athletic goods and sports products. Our approach has been to address deeper purposes that enable us to create a platform to engage with the consumers."
Elaborating on the reason behind conducting a survey to uncover various insights, Ganguly mentions, "When you put facts and data in front of people, it becomes an eye-opener to them. The data from the survey suggests that there's a positive correlation between sports adoption and good academics performance."
Earlier this year, Puma released a campaign to bridge the gender gap in cricket. It's not just a sport in India, but has become an important part of the country's culture. Players like Sachin Tendulkar, Sourav Ganguly, Kohli, MS Dhoni and Rohit Sharma have attained celebrity status, with brands flocking them with endorsement opportunities.
Puma launched the first leg of the campaign by posting a cryptic teaser video of a player taking position at the stumps and quizzing the audience to guess its next brand ambassador. The brand then followed this up with a video that revealed India's women cricket team captain Harmanpreet Kaur as its new ambassador.
Ganguly states that it's been the brand’s endeavour to connect and engage with its target audience in a deeper way. Hence, it's important for the brand to create purpose-driven platforms.
"Supporting women in sport is integral with our strategy. It's important for the progress of sports and fitness in our country. It also leads to the overall growth, development and well-being of the nation."
Puma is associated with not just cricketers, but many athletes that represent sports across board.
How does the brand select the players that it wants to partner with? Ganguly states that the brand has a broad-based approach.
"While cricket is a dominant sport in India, we've also partnered with the captain of the Indian football team Sunil Chhetri and the goalkeeper Gurpreet Sandhu. The selection process is to pick the best so that they can inspire people, while also supporting the grassroots, because it's important for future development.”
For the 2023 Indian Premier League (IPL), Puma is the official kit partner for the Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB) team. Ganguly believes that the RCB fandom is strong. Hence, with this association, the brand has been able to establish a connect with the team'’s fans.
"Also, Bengaluru coincidentally happens to be Puma India's headquarter. It's a broad-based association restricted to the pitch as well as off the pitch."
To leverage this association, the brand is using various social media platforms. For example, the brand posted a video on its social media that featured Kohli, with a blindfold on, trying to recognise his RCB teammates.