Udit Mediratta on Budweiser’s extended association with football through Premier League

Budweiser

To leverage the audience affinity offerings that come with leagues such as the Premier League, Budweiser takes a deep dive and explores propositions.

With international football increasing its stronghold in the country and homegrown leagues taking flight, brand interest in the domain is set to grow rapidly over the next few years. This includes direct sponsorships as well as investments to facilitate growth.

Social Samosa gets in conversation with Udit Mediratta, Director Global Brands – South Asia, AB InBev, to get an insider’s account on the experience of Budweiser’s association with the Premier League and LaLiga.

Budweiser’s association with football globally has been a long-standing one. What was the idea behind associating with the Premier League on the Indian front? What was the insight/data point behind this association?

The excitement around football has grown significantly in India over the past decade. Football is now the second most followed sport in the country, with a huge fan following across leagues – both homegrown and international tournaments like the Premier League and LaLiga. Data indicates that the second biggest fan base for the coveted club – Manchester United, is here in India. A combination of these factors has rendered football a huge passion point amongst the millennials of the country, who are constantly seeking newer avenues and touchpoints to engage with the game and celebrate their favorite teams and players.

Our association with the Premier League and LaLiga was driven by an overarching ambition to leverage this very affinity and bring people together through new, exciting innovations, enabling them to revel in the euphoric energy of the game. We have been long-standing partners of the FIFA World Cup, which has allowed us to reach over 3.2 billion consumers and engage football fans across the globe. Given our commitment to football, we saw an incredible opportunity through Premier League and LaLiga to engage with fans not just once in four years but year-round by developing experiences for them to energize them like on-ground screenings, large scale activations, collaboration with official fan clubs across key markets.

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India has a massive and fast-growing football community. Are they different from their global counterparts? How will you engage with this community to leverage the association with Premier League to an optimum level?

Football, in essence, is a global celebration, that has been uniting fans from around the world through the very energy and spirit of the game. While the zeal and anticipation are universal, the differentiating factor is the accessibility that global counterparts enjoy to the game since the biggest leagues have traditionally been hosted in international countries. That said, the landscape in India is now changing tremendously with the introduction of homegrown leagues like the Indian Super League and I-League and the overarching efforts of brands to enliven the sport in India.

To bring the sport closer to fans in the country and celebrate the energy around football with fans locally and worldwide, we have been curating tailored experiences and engaging content not just around the sport but also the players, the Kings of the game. We currently have an integrated campaign currently live across mainline and digital mediums anchored in the brand’s core belief — that it is in all of us to step up and taste greatness, and in so doing be a King. Our recent campaign featuring Sergio Ramos, captain of the Spain national football team and Real Madrid, received widespread appreciation from fans here for celebrating Ramos’ stand-out career as the most capped player ever for Spain and in turn, inspiring our consumers to step up and taste greatness. This campaign celebrates Ramos’ journey to becoming truly one of football’s greats by using the symbolism of his tattoos to showcase his achievements.

At the outset of the Premier League season, Budweiser 0.0 also announced an exclusive collaboration with Star Sports for the 2019/20 edition. As part of this association, we are the co-presenting partner on Star Select SD and HD.

Our other efforts center around providing football enthusiasts an opportunity to come together curating immersive experiences for them. We have been co-hosting large-scale fan parks with Start Sports across eight key markets, to truly enrich the match viewing experience. We also have exclusive match screenings in collaboration with select fan clubs in the country to give users a stadium-esque match viewing experience, facilitating picture-worthy moments with the iconic league trophy combined with engagement activities. Additionally, we are brewing the fervour around the sport through our hero asset, the Budweiser Light-up Cup. We are also running a mega contest that provides patrons with a chance to watch an EPL match live in England, which is truly a reflection of the brand’s devotion towards elevating the experience of the game. We are also exploring other collaborations to celebrate the growing relevance and cultural impact of the game within the country.

Our association with Premier League and LaLiga goes beyond mere sponsorship. We are committed to growing the passion for the beautiful game around the world, striving to provide patrons with all-encompassing experiences to celebrate the sport and the players. We want to empower patrons to ‘taste greatness’ and bring alive the experience of football as much as possible.

What was the idea behind associating with Star Sports Select? How does it help the brand?

With Star Sports Select being the official broadcaster of Premier League in India, it was a perfect avenue for us to elevate our conversations around the game and create top of mind recall among football fans.  As the co-presenting sponsor, we own spots across the league’s 360 games and add to the excitement with co-branded content. This will provide fans with real-time updates and showcase key match moments celebrating the greatness of the players—the Kings of the Game—both on and off the field. Currently, we have our key marketing asset — the film titled ‘Make way for the King’ — live on the channel.

Tell us more about Select FC. How did the idea come into being? How will it help you penetrate the Indian market further?

Through Select FC, the channel’s existing property, we will be curating large-scale fan parks across key markets bringing football fans together, in association with official fan clubs. This gives us a chance to offer consumers a stadium-esque match viewing experience—the atmosphere at these fan parks brews a sense of togetherness, uniting people through their mutual love for the sport or their favorite teams, the chants or the friendly banter and this is something we as a brand aim to champion in all our activations, making the experience more immersive and meaningful.

What is your objective from this association? How will you be calculating ROI on this front?

This is our first year of association with EPL and La Liga, and hence we’ll be calculating the ROI basis the conversations we are able to drive within the football community and how we engage this audience. Our earned share of voice within the ocean of conversations around football will be a key metric to judge our investment decisions.

The increase in the consumption of non-cricket content in India has been phenomenal in the last couple of years. Can you share a few tips for brands in terms of helping them find the right connect and leverage non-cricket sports?

Undeniably, Cricket has captivated a great percentage of the audience. That said, the sporting landscape has changed considerably in the recent past. Dynamic games such as football are increasingly becoming popular and as long-term supporters of football, we want to share our passion for the sport with them by building a strong influence around the game and fostering the community through exciting innovations.

By partnering with tournaments like Premier League and LaLiga on a global scale, Budweiser 0.0 aims to elevate the experience for our consumers here in India by bringing the sport closer to them – through exclusive match viewing parties, activities with official fan clubs and contests where they can win their way to watch the Premier League game live. We want to offer well-curated experiences as well as exclusive content surrounding the behind-the-scenes moments as well as players – the Kings of the game – to our consumers, allowing us to be an integral part of their football experience and celebrate the spirit of the game together.

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How have entities such Indian Super League and I League helped in giving a foothold and presentation to the football community in India?

Certainly. The excitement around the leagues has soared over the years and this has made the sport more accessible in India – providing opportunities to local players to hone their skills and giving football fans a platform to truly witness and understand the nuances of the game at close quarters. Football has always been a passion point for Indians. However, the emergence of homegrown leagues has significantly impacted the manner in which India engages with the game.

What next for Budweiser? Can we expect more sports partnerships?

Our strategy is rooted in engaging with our consumers through their passion points. With our long-term partnerships with the FIFA World Cup, Premier League, and LaLiga, we are looking forward to crafting extraordinary experiences around the sport and energizing the fervor among fans locally and worldwide. Having said that, we will continue to explore new opportunities of our engaging with our consumers and providing them truly differentiated experiences.


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