NEW DELHI: Some of India's biggest advertisers are seeking to link their products with major sporting events, in an effort to build brand equity with a key target audience.

Alongside this year's Indian Premier League and World Twenty20 Championship – two cricket tournaments – the Hockey World Cup, FIFA World Cup and Commonwealth Games are all attracting considerable popular interest in India.

Companies like Adidas, Castrol, Coca-Cola, Hyundai and Vodafone are all attempting to leverage these opportunities to engage consumers.

Rajiv Rao, national creative director of Ogilvy & Mather, which is working on Vodafone's Indian Premier League campaign, said "we expect more work as two big cricketing events are round the corner."

Harish Bijoor Consults has predicted that expenditure on direct sports marketing in India will reach 2,200 crore rupees ($479m; €352m; £317m) over the 2010/11 fiscal year, up from 800 crore rupees in the 2009/10 period.

The Commonwealth Games, the international athletics contest held every four years, will take around 50% of these revenues, according to the research firm's estimates.

LG India, the white goods specialist, has boosted its overall media budget by a quarter this year, to 300 crore rupees, with a fifth of its outlay currently being allocated to advertising during sporting events.

"This [figure] could double with the growing eyeballs in all the varied sporting events this year. We are looking at 40% sales growth this sporting year," said L K Gupta, the organisation's chief marketing officer.

In 2006, the FIFA World Cup received an audience of 50 million viewers in India, double the total recorded in 2002, and ESPN Star Sports, which holds the rights to show matches, expects a similar uptick in 2010.

Sanjay Kailash, evp, advertising sales and new media, at ESPN Software India, said "with soccer fans growing in India, we expect a viewership of around 100 million this World Cup."

"We have offered sponsorship propositions for the event to all the big advertisers in India."

Adidas, the sportswear giant, intends to heighten its investment in communications by 30% this year, and will launch a multimedia campaign linked to the global football tournament in May.

"We expect revenues to jump four times this World Cup," stated Andreas Gellner, ceo of Adidas India.

Castrol is also increasing its annual marketing outlay by a fifth, and will offer a range of free World Cup-related products to shoppers in India as part of its promotional strategy.

"We will fly our dealers and select customers to watch the FIFA world cup," Ravi Kriplani, coo of Castrol India, added.

Data sourced from Economic Times; additional content by Warc staff