New Delhi: A week before the FIFA World Cup starts on 14 June in Russia, Adidas, which has an over 40-year association with the tournament, is planning to give Indian fans an immersive football experience. The sports brand is leveraging digital, outdoor and on-ground activations to connect with fans across cities like New Delhi, Mumbai, Kolkata, Pune, Chennai, Cochin and Guwahati.

“Our FIFA campaign in India is an extension of our global campaign. We have an active fan following of football in India and we want to connect and engage with them," said Amrith Gopinath, brand marketing director, Adidas India.

The brand, for instance, has installed an interactive billboard in Delhi which says “You always need 11 players to make 1 Goal". The hoarding has a football installed with a pulley that requires 11 people to pull it and score a goal. The objective is to celebrate and reward the spirit of coming together for a team sport.

Taking a cue from the obsession with the official FIFA World Cup ball (Telstar 18), the brand has put up a giant 3D version of it in high traffic locations across different cities. It will also be mounting a live 2D scoreboard to keep football lovers abreast with the latest scores of the games in New Delhi, Mumbai and Bengaluru.

Staying away from the television ad blitz, Adidas has decided to screen its global FIFA World Cup campaign across key multiplex screens in the country. “We are targeting our core audience in a niche way," said Gopinath.

The brand has partnered with social media platforms like Facebook, Snapchat and photo sharing app Instagram where fans will be able to create profile pictures with their favourite football players.

Noting that ‘moment marketing’ works best during sport events, Gopinath said that they have partnered with chat platform WhatsApp to create over hundred FIFA related GIFs which can be easily shared on the app. “Our consumer research showed that people are using GIFs to convey their emotions during a match. Football is one such sport where emotions run deep and we want to be a part of the moment when consumer wants to convey the emotions of the game with their friends and family," he added.

Adidas will also create a consumer engagement space called ‘Creators Hub’ in Mumbai’s Oberoi Mall and Bengaluru’s Phoenix Market City where fans can engage with a timed obstacle circuit that will challenge their dribbling and shooting skills.

To further fuel the interest around the game and engage young fans in football fever, the brand will also be organizing a 5v5 (five a side) football tournament in New Delhi, Mumbai and Bengaluru for under 14 and under 16 school children.

Apart from the marketing promotions, Originals, the sports fashion arm of Adidas, has also launched the iconic indoor soccer shoe, Samba in India which is being promoted by its brand ambassador, actor Ranveer Singh.

Samit Sinha, brand expert and managing partner, Alchemist Brand Consulting thinks that Adidas’s media strategy is smart, targeting football-loving pockets in India.

“Their decision to stick with chat platform like WhatsApp is clever because the engagement and direct connect there is much higher than a mass media. Television advertising would have led to wastage," he said.

Naresh Gupta, strategy head and managing partner at advertising agency Bang in the Middle, believes Adidas FIFA campaigns have always made the world sit up and take note. “It’s almost a culture with Adidas," he said.

Gupta said football is no longer a niche sport and has started to garner a loyal following in India. “We are likely to see brands like Vivo, Hyundai and Coke driving the football fandom and make the sport even more mainstream in the country," he added.

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