Do you know why an advertisement with a sportsperson featuring in it has never won a top industry prize in India?
Advertising star Piyush Pandey raised this question at the ‘National Sports Seminar: A Celebration of Indian Sports Journalism’, organised by the Sports Journalists Federation of India (SJFI).
Pandey, the chairman and national creative director, Ogilvy & Mather, promptly answered his own question. “Such ads,” Pandey said, “are strategy-driven and not creative-driven. They tend to capitalise on the athlete’s celebrity status and many times the fact that he does not have anything in common with the product is ignored.
“That’s the reason why an advertisement depicting a farmer (for Fevicol) has won an award but not one featuring a sportsperson.”
Besides Pandey, LV Krishnan, CEO, TAM Media, Prof Ratnakar Shetty, executive secretary, Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI), Enrico Piperno, Fed Cup tennis coach and hockey Olympian MM Somaya spoke on various aspects of sports. The seminar was organised as part of the Tata Indian Sports Journalism Awards 2006, which was held on Thursday.
Pandey, speaking on ‘Sportspersons and Advertising’, felt athletes were more to blame for the average performance of commercials featuring them as they didn’t give due time and attention to the creative part of the ad. “They say ‘I have two hours. Do whatever you have to do within that time’,” said Pandey, who has represented Rajasthan in Ranji Trophy cricket. “They don’t speak to the scriptwriter about their strong points, to find out how they are being projected or whether the ad is using their personality effectively.”
As result of this, Pandey said, such ads fail to make full use of the sportsperson’s appeal.
He added, “In the west, stars and concepts are blended beautifully, like in the Nike ad that showed Pete Sampras and Andre Agassi playing tennis in the streets of New York, or the Pirelli Tyres’ commercial that featured sprinter Carl Lewis. Both used the strong points of the athletes, tennis and running. Instead, in India, we get ads like Sehwag ki maa or the Hero Honda spot featuring a sportsperson (Sourav Ganguly) matching steps with a Bollywood star (Hrithik Roshan), which fail to click.”
Asserting that sportspersons are effective media for promoting products because they are the only effective role models in India besides film stars, Pandey said they needed to show more respect for themselves and see that they are used in commercials in a way that is based on their strengths.
“They need to sit down with the scriptwriter and discuss how they are being projected in the ad,” he said.
Krishnan spoke about how the football World Cup upstaged India’s tour of the West Indies in coverage space and ad revenue while it failed to do so in 2002 during the World Cup in South Korea and Japan when India played against England.
Former India hockey captain Somaya discussed the recent developments in hockey, like the appointment of a foreign physical trainer, the Premier Hockey League and the mushrooming of hockey academies in recent times that, he felt, will help promote the sport in the country.