Pepsi, LG score in India

25 March 2011

MUMBAI: Advertisers including Pepsi, LG and Adidas have successfully combined sport and social media to engage Indian consumers.

NM Incite, a joint venture run by research firm Nielsen and consultancy McKinsey, has regularly tracked the web buzz regarding the ICC World Cup taking place in the country at present.

"Some brands have managed to keep their social media campaigns far more dynamic by altering content and stimulus during the course of the tournament," Farshad Family, managing director of Nielsen Media India, told the Economic Times.

Pepsi, the carbonated drink, is an official sponsor of the event, and featured in 17% of relevant brand-related conversations on blogs, message boards and social networks.

In achieving this status, the company has hosted competitions on Facebook for each match in the World Cup, and can now claim approximately 950,000 "likes" on the site.

This has been supplemented by uploading material to YouTube and posting on Twitter, and has already attracted nearly 1,000 followers on the microblogging service.

"This is the first Cricket World Cup where social media has such kind of scale," Sandeep Singh Arora, PepsiCo India's executive vice president, marketing, said.

Although the fact members of these properties currently constitute a minority of Pepsi's buyers, they are also a highly appealing demographic.

"While they form just 1% of our consumer base, they are evangelist or opinion leaders for our brands," said Arora.

Mobile group Nokia grabbed an 11% share of internet chatter linked to the World Cup, despite not being an authorised affiliate of the event.

Its activity surrounding the contest has incorporated rolling out a free widget, in partnership with ESPN, for N8 handset customers.

This tool provides a live news feed, real-time scores and text commentary, statistics, expert viewpoints and video highlights.

Electronics maker LG posted the same total as Nokia, having introduced a limited edition of the Optimus One smartphone to coincide with the World Cup.

Similarly to Pepsi, the company has exploited online platforms to encourage word of mouth, seeing its Facebook fan count rise from 50,000 to 350,000.

"In today's world we need to acknowledge the presence of digital media, especially if the target audience is youth," LK Gupta, LG India's chief marketing officer, said.

Elsewhere, sports brand Adidas has leveraged a tie-up with Indian batsman Sachin Tendulkar, the player generating the greatest amount of internet buzz, to steal a march on official sponsor Reebok.

Tushar Goculdas, sales and marketing director of Adidas India, suggested a long-term approach was now paying dividends, having aided the Adidas Cricket page on Facebook in securing 740,000 followers.

"We launched the pure cricket campaign almost a year before the tournament began, which helped us create a huge fan base," said Goculdas.

Sony, also from the electronics sector, has equally attracted cricket fans without a certified arrangement with the World Cup, out-performing sponsors such as motorbike specialist Hero Honda, oil brand Castrol and online giant Yahoo.

In a parallel trend, wireless firms Vodafone and Airtel registered 10% and 6% shares of interactions respectively, well ahead of the 2% logged by Reliance Communications, a formal World Cup partner.

Data sourced from Economic Times; additional content by Warc staff