Usha International, one of India’s leading consumer durables company continues its association with Mumbai Indians, as an official partner for the seventh consecutive year. As part of the association, the Usha logo will be seen on the leading side caps and helmets of MI players and on the mat during match toss. Geared solely to cater to online/TV audiences this year, the stadium will also have massive LED screens running across the perimeter, which will showcase the Usha brand during a couple of overs of the game.
With Covid-mandated restrictions in place, this cricketing season the focus is on creating virtual experiences. Usha has planned a series of activations straddling various digital platforms for growing stakeholder engagement and brand recall – online contests on days when Mumbai Indians is playing, giving consumers a chance to win an opportunity to interact with their favourite MI players through virtual meet and greets. The brand will also launch a unique digital campaign, featuring select players.
In an exclusive chat with MediaNews4U, Komal Mehra, Head – Sports Initiatives and Associations, Usha International speaks on the association with Mumbai Indians and promotions during this pandemic…….
It has been 7 years of association with Mumbai Indians, how did it happen and how has the association been?
Short format cricket was a game-changer when it came into play — it attracted a huge number of viewers, brought into its fold a much larger audience, and became the platform that gave young aspiring cricketers a chance to prove their mettle. Its pace was perfectly suited to the modern day consumer who lived in an environment where multiple things vied for their attention. We, as in Usha, got on board as it aligned with our ‘play’ ethos and somehow everything fell into place for our association with Mumbai Indians, and given that Mumbai Indians has emerged as the top performing team with their fourth win in 2019, we are happy to have partnered them.
The winning attitude, consistent performance, and the sporting spirit of the MI team, are the very attributes we want to instill amongst the youth today, especially in challenging times like Covid-19.
Our journey with Mumbai Indians has only gotten stronger with each passing year and has definitely helped enhance brand salience for Usha. We are proud to be associated with an exceptional team, which has performed consistently and our partnership with the team throughout this remarkable 7-year journey has been a phenomenal success, positively impacting both our business and our stakeholders.
What made you want to associate with cricket especially IPL?
Cricket is not just a sport but almost a religion that is class and caste agnostic and this was a format that was a winner. Its viewers were our target potential consumers and given its viewership, it made perfect sense to associate with it. In fact, this year, viewership is likely to break all records as cricket aficionados are starved for some high-octane live action to spread some cheer amidst the gloom caused by the global pandemic.
At Usha, we constantly look at ways in which we can leverage our sports associations to promote inclusivity and a healthy and active lifestyle spurring us to support many sporting events, not just cricket. Last year, we partnered with Brian Lara to help create more awareness about the advantages to supporting and developing a sporting culture at the grassroots, national, and international level taking forward our Usha ‘Play’ ethos. Our association with Mumbai Indians helps us engage with audiences across all ages and geographies, while driving home awareness about sportsman spirit, active and healthy living, and strengthening brand connect with consumers.
In fact, in the current environment of crisis, we see this as a great opportunity to play an even larger role that will help us build brand loyalty and long term relationships with partners and consumers. It gives us a chance to engage with our audiences in interesting ways that genuinely engage and add value to their lives in terms of gratification both in kind and experiences.
What kind of engagement have you seen in these seven years of this association?
Over the past seven years, this partnership has worked out extremely well for us – it has helped strengthen our connect with consumers and partners alike, both on-ground and on various channels, and together they have had a multiplier effect.
In these seven years, as part of the association, we have launched 360 multi-channel media marketing campaigns spanning TV, print, radio, digital, BTL, and on-ground activations across the country. We have launched multiple TVC campaigns to promote various product categories over the years, organized ‘Meet and Greet’ to engage our business partners, employees, and consumers with their favorite MI players. We have run online contests for our fans, leveraged match toss opportunities and in stadia experience for our stakeholders. Gratification in terms of MI & Usha merchandise and freebies have found huge traction amongst the fans.
Apart from in-stadia branding through perimeter boards and LED walls, the Usha logo has been omni-present on ground, and therefore on all screens, on the helmets and the caps of the MI team players. This presence reiterates Usha’s commitment to encouraging and supporting a game which requires immense focus, strategy and perseverance, further building a top-of-the-mind recall.
Have you thought of associating with any other sport?
At Usha, we believe in supporting inclusive platforms that nurtures and encourages aspiring sportspersons. We have supported various sporting events in the past including National Athletics for the Blind Association and Divyang Cricket, besides college sporting events. We are also building and supporting Flying Disc communities at the grassroots level where we digitally mentor them on coaching, fitness, and how they can continue building their skills and follow routines at home amidst the pandemic to stay fit and maintain an active & healthy lifestyle.
As a brand, currently the safety of everyone associated with us takes precedence over all else and therefore we are not organising activities which involve close contact. However, if there are opportunities which help build the sporting culture via virtual platforms, we will definitely explore how we can support them.
Will the brand be doing any promotional films or other marketing activities?
Coronavirus has created an environment that has no precedent posing a huge challenge to every one of us as individuals and as organisations, and its aftereffect is expected to impact our lives for some time to come. An immediate impact that’s visible is the marked shift in consumer buying behavior and media consumption. It is essential for brands to understand these emerging patterns in order to understand and anticipate consumer needs. Real-time insights and technology that can track and predict consumer interests and needs adapt with agility and pivot business offerings to win the consumer’s trust.
At Usha, we are revising our marketing strategy to focus on long-term brand building within the limitations of the current environment. We have always kept our brand values and customer-centricity at the core of all our initiatives, and will continue to do so.
In this cricketing season, our focus is on creating virtual experiences that will become lifetime memories. Usha has planned a series of activations straddling various digital platforms for growing stakeholder engagement and brand recall; online contests on days when Mumbai Indians is playing, giving consumers a chance to win some amazing Usha products; and virtual meet and greet opportunities for dealers to interact with their favourite MI players. Moreover, we will also launch a unique digital campaign, featuring select players. In addition, as part of the association, the Usha logo will be seen on the leading side caps and helmets of MI players and the mat during match toss. Geared solely to cater to online/TV audiences this year, the stadium will also have massive LED screens running across the perimeter, which will showcase the Usha brand during a couple of overs of the game.