NEW DELHI: At the same time as Vivo, the Chinese phone manufacturer, has spent heavily to retain its sponsorship of the Indian Premier League, global sportswear brand adidas is championing lesser known sports such as figure skating.

The contrasting approaches demonstrate how sport, in all its forms, has become an important marketing tool for brands from all categories in India.

Vivo yesterday secured the title sponsorship rights to the IPL for the next five years with a bid of Rs 2,199 crore – equivalent to a 554% increase on its previous two-year contract, the Economic Times reported.

"The association with the IPL proved to be really beneficial for our brand and it was natural to continue the strong partnership," said Vivek Zhang, Vivo chief marketing officer.

Audience viewing figures for the competition have risen sharply, with Broadcast Audience Research Council (BARC) India data indicating viewership of 1.25bn this year, up 22.5% from 2016.

But Vivo is not restricting its sporting presence to cricket, having also signed similarly long-term deals with the Pro-Kabbadi League and FIFA.

While the phone market entrant has opted to spend big on popular sports like cricket, adidas has chosen to head in the opposite direction: a new digital campaign focuses on Nishchay Luthra, a figure skater training for the 2018 Winter Olympics.

"We want to turn the spotlight on alternate sports and athletes who pursue them in India," explained Sean van Wyk, senior marketing director, adidas India. "There are so many others like him who deserve to be recognized and celebrated."

Over time, the brand plans to highlight the inspiring stories of 10 to 12 athletes from different sports, according to Mint.

"The objective is to create a platform where the not so fortunate but extremely talented athletes can get support and recognition through a mainstream brand's digital assets," said Vijay Simha, group creative director of Cheil India, the agency which pitched the original idea to adidas.

Data sourced from Economic Times, Mint; additional content by WARC staff