Of Nike Bleed Blue and the ‘What if?’ question

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My post on the Nike Bleed Blue campaign evinced an interesting question from @beastoftraal. In the ensuing debate, the counter point about the campaign was that its all too easy to make case studies of campaigns that succeeded due to external factors (read, India winning) and that we unfairly bury the effort that goes into a failed campaign. If India had not reached the Quarter Finals, the campaign would have lost its punch and would have been pulled out.

Yes, sure if India had fared badly it would have negatively affected all the sponsors. It would have been silly to see ads where the cricketers do a chest thumping number after an early exit from the tournament. But brands bank on their team doing well…its a risk they fully understand. One also knows that a team’s failure at a sporting event makes a huge dent to the marketing efforts. It will be a double blow if the marketing effort is centered around portraying the team as nothing but winners. In which case, a team’s failure is like a slap in the face.

In India, Cricket and Bollywood have been traditional outposts for celebrity endorsements, both with their own set of pros and cons. When it comes to brands and sporting events, there is an element of risk involved. Especially when it comes to matters of national pride. Ads which portray a cricketer as a super achiever or evoke a ra-ra feeling among the audience had to be pulled out in earlier events – like the 2007 World Cup for example. Remember, the Hoo-Haa India campaign from Pepsi in 2007 which fell flat after India’s loss?

With Nike’s Bleed Blue campaign, sure the impact would not have been this great if India had not won the Cup. If we had not even made it to the Quarter Finals, then perhaps the TVC’s would have back fired. The new TVC, Yards, was showcased first during the India-Pak semi finals. So perhaps that would have been aired later perhaps. In my view, the campaign centered around two things: (a) garner support for Team India from the common man and (b) portray a positive, confident attitude about Team India (at many levels) and Brand Nike. It did not rely solely on portraying a cricketer as a super-hero or convey a ‘We Will Win The Cup’ kind of definitive message. It is maha irritating to see an ad featuring a cricketer being portrayed as a super hero especially after a dismal performance from either the individual or the team. That leads to ‘these guys are only good for ads’ kind of reaction from viewers.

So to come back to the subject – if India had not made it to the Quarter Finals, it would have been a blow to the Nike campaign effort. But a softer blow. What say?


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