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Rio 2016: Firms give a hand to Indian athletes

business Updated: Aug 08, 2016 10:47 IST

Indian sprinter Dutee Chand.(AFP)

Twenty-year-old sprinter Dutee Chand, the first Indian woman to compete in the 100-metre event at Rio Olympics after almost 36 years, did not even have running shoes till last month. Diversified financial services company, Edelweiss Group, heard about Chand’s distress, and its employees ran all across Mumbai just to find the right pair of shoes for her.

Not just brand promotions, companies, including Edelweiss, Amul, Tata Salt and Herbal Life among others, are now extending support to these 120 lesser-known athletes representing the country at the world’s largest sports extravaganza, by offering support, such as life insurance covers, nutrition education, promotion on social media and product packs.

For instance, Edelweiss Tokio Life Insurance, the life insurance joint venture of the group, has tied up with the Indian Olympics Association (IOA), and is offering a life insurance cover of ₹1 crore for each of the athletes representing India. “Our budget for sponsorship this year has increased by 30% to 40%,” said Shabnam Pajwani, marketing head, Edelweiss Group, the principal partner for the Rio Olympics.

“Joining athletes who represent India at international level creates a positive image for brands in the mind of the consumer and increases brand affinity,” said Piyush Pandey, creative director for India and South Asia, Ogilvy & Mather. “Later, if these athletes won fame at Olympics, the companies may use them for endorsements.”

“Over 10 brands have been associated with us this Olympics against just two last year,” said Neerav Tomar, CEO of Infinity Optimal Solutions, which handles communication for IOA.

Tata Chemicals’ brand Tata Salt is promoting the athletes on digital platforms. “Olympics is one place where we can use our brand connect and create mass communication around the event on social media platforms,” said Sagar Boke, head, marketing, consumer product business, Tata Chemicals, which is running the ‘Namak Ke Waastey’ campaign .

While Tata Salt has set aside about 8% to 10% of their marketing budget for Olympics this year, Amul is spending ₹1.5 crore. “We will be using the Olympics logo on our packaging and also in advertisements,” said RS Sodhi, MD, Amul.

Beginning with the Rio Olympics, nutrition products maker Herbalife is mulling a long-term partnership with IOA to identify sports federations for development of sports and its athletes. The company aims to impart nutrition education to athletes.