Nokia bats with SRK, aims to score
Invented in England, improvised in the US, re-invented in Mumbai, born in Kolkata – and funded from Finland.
If cricket is pushing new frontiers, so is marketing.
While the nation is busy discovering Twenty20 cricket played between city-centric teams with baseball-style cheerleaders in the Indian Premier League (IPL), cellphone leader Nokia has found a new way to pitch its brand to the billion-strong nation.
In an unusual twist, it has funded movie star Shah Rukh Khan’s passion play for the Kolkata IPL team hoping that it would form the third angle in a holy entertainment trinity of Bollywood, cricket and its own self.
“SRK, cricket and Nokia are all part of the Indian consumers’ favoured list,” says D.Shivakumar, vice-president and managing director for Nokia India.
“The cricket fan will get redefined. The reason he will tap into cricket will be entertainment-led,” he says, outlining the strategic intent behind the brand that needs to score like a pinch-hitter in a field crowded with smart competitors like Samsung, LG and Sony Ericsson.
The gambit on King Khan is the first of its kind where a company goes beyond paying endorsement fees to its brand ambassador and fund its personal pursuits.
“It is unique. Nokia’s relationship with SRK is symbiotic. And we have always backed innovation. The IPL series is a first-of-its-kind event – we looked at it as a big innovation that will capture the minds of people.” “It’s a long term relationship, not just for one season,” states Shivakumar, saying the money invested is probably the biggest single chunk, without revealing details.
The cellphone giant is also co-promoting the Kolkata IPL team music album, ‘Nokia 2 Hot 2 Cool’ that has five songs exclusively composed for the team by some of India’s leading music artists. The market buzz is that the album cost a little over Rs 1 crore.
Nokia will retail the songs and load them onto its phones. It is offering them with all Nokia 5610 and Nokia 5310 XpressMusic handsets.
What is interesting, though, is that Nokia would possibly not have considered investing in the IPL if SRK had not been there.
“It’s unlikely,” says Shivakumar. In spite of the fact that Nokia’s investment in the first ICC World Twenty20 Cup as one of the global partners paid off hugely. And in 2007, Nokia was a sponsor for the West Indies World Cup and the Champions Trophy in India in 2006.