Puma Cricket’s new ad reveals how India’s most-followed sport has a gender problem

PUMA Cricket has an interesting new insight to share about the most-loved sport in the country. The brand took the social experiment outlook to announce its new brand ambassador.

The recent campaign by PUMA Cricket, based on a social experiment, revealed that the religious following of Cricket in India is gender-biased. While the Indian Cricket team is making a mark on international platforms, but the enthusiasts back home have remained oblivious towards an important group of athletes. We’re talking about the Indian Women’s Cricket team.

Consumers in retail stores across the region and the online community following Puma were stumped with one question — to guess its ambassador based on one hint. 80% of the respondents mentioned male cricketers’ names revealing the gender bias among the spectators of the most-followed sport in the country. After questioning people’s prejudices, the sports company later announced that it has onboarded Indian Women’s cricket team Captain, Harmanpreet Kaur as the new brand ambassador of Puma.

Also Read: Star Sports new ad advocates for recognition of Women In Blue before ICC Women’s T20 World Cup

“This is just the beginning and I am sure this association will encourage a lot of women who dream to make a career in cricket. I look forward to an exciting journey ahead,” said Kaur in a statement shared with the press.

Sharing the idea behind onboarding her in a press release, Abhishek Ganguly, Managing Director, PUMA India and Southeast Asia said, “Harmanpreet is a sporting icon and, with this partnership, we hope to inspire younger generations and help Indian women’s cricket reach greater heights.”

The announcement comes on the brink of increased exposure towards the contribution of female athletes in various competitive sports. Recently various brands have been theming their campaigns around this peg. Most of these brands have been active sportswear brands, broadcasters, and women-focused industries. A global campaign pointing out a female athlete being the top goal scorer in the world had also gained popularity recently.

Ahead of ICC Women’s T20 World Cup, Star Sports, the broadcaster of the league extended its campaign #BlueKnowsNoGender to cheer for the Women In Blue. Its latest advertisement from the campaign talked about how women in sports are not often given due recognition for their work by cricket fans.

A common critique of these campaigns by viewers has been that it has been outward in, instead of the other way. Brands are jumping on the popularity of the rise of femme, instead of having supported them for exposure through the use of their platforms. Women’s cricket has been on the rise since the Indian team has been bowling wonders and striking hits.

The first moment marking this upward trend was a seemingly impossible catch by Harleen Deol, that traveled across social media feeds at lightning speed. Only the ones who saw it, believed it, and a substantial chunk of internet users did. It was covered by international sports publishers and widely shared across platforms such as Reddit, Twitter, and more.

The women’s team’s recent win and investment in IPL have also been grabbing brands’ attention. And it is only the beginning of a new chapter in India’s sporting ecosystem, and as experts in the industry point out this would have an impact on advertising interest too.