NEW DELHI/KOLKATA: Tired brand marketers in India are turning their attention to the FIFA World Cup in Brazil following their focus on the recent Lokh Sabha elections and just concluded India Premier League cricket tournament.

Even though India is not regarded as a footballing nation, the Economic Times reported that Sony Entertainment, which has the broadcast rights for the event, is selling air-time at rates comparable with one-day international cricket matches.

Navin Khemka, managing partner at media buying firm ZenithOptimedia, explained that "unlike cricket, soccer isn't very inventory-friendly. There's not too much inventory to sell, so whatever inventory the broadcaster has will obviously be sold at a premium".

That said, he expected that prime-time games would attract a lot of interest among a niche audience.

Sporting brands are naturally looking to exploit the month-long tournament. Official sponsor Adidas plans to engage with around 1.5m football fans through pub screenings, house parties, office activations and embassy events. It is also selling a World Cup-specific jersey alongside those of its sponsored teams including Spain, Germany and Argentina.

Rival Puma is taking a similar approach although it is also embracing a more direct route to fans' hearts: managing director Rajiv Mehta said the brand has set up links with pubs and bars in Delhi, Mumbai and Bangalore, so that whenever a team sponsored by Puma wins, the company will buy a round of drinks.

Consumer electronics brands too are hoping to see an uplift in sales as leading TV manufacturers are reported to be pouring Rs 300m into marketing over the next 45 days.

While cricket continues to be the main target for fans and brands in India, a high profile event like the World Cup offers the chance for football to boost its popularity and for the brands associated with it to gain awareness of their role in building sporting infrastructure.

Coca-Cola, for example, has an association with the All India Football Federation which it plans to exploit. "Our programmes and initiatives around the football World Cup will leverage existing partnerships in grassroots football as well as local activations," said Debabrata Mukherjee, vp/marketing & commercial, Coca-Cola India.

Data sourced from Economic Times; additional content by Warc staff