Sports has been in the DNA of Tata Group: Vivek Srivatsa, Tata Motors

Vivek Srivatsa

Gone are the days when create a mere spot would suffice. It is now about customizing and engaging. Creating an experience for consumers that compels them to engage and add the product to their basket.

Sharing how can brands use the upcoming IPL season to achieve this, Vivek Srivatsa, Head- Marketing , Passenger Cars, Tata Motors. Srivatsa shares examples of how Tata Motors leveraged sports as a medium to stay ahead of the curve.


#1 – With FY 18-19 starting soon, what are some of the key priority areas for your brand?

We have been on a rapid growth curve; for the last 18 months Tata Motors has grown every
month in terms of volume and market share. Our first priority is to continue the growth
journey this year as well.

We are really focused on sustained growth month on month and significantly gaining market share which means we need to grow faster than the industry. With impact IMPACT design philosophy that started with  Tiago,  Hexa, TIGOR and NEXON we have managed to venture into a new category of customers who are young and affluent. The idea is to increase consideration from this category that in fact will play a key
role in achieving the first objective listed above.

IPL has inspired other sports leagues such as PKL, ISL and PBL. Offering brands creative &
multiple opportunities to leverage sports. Nissin*used trump cards based on kabaddi players
to drive sales.AMFI*has featured several players from the Kabaddi teams to increase
awareness about mutual funds and to reach out to investors.


2#- What is your view on how can the brands ride upon the unique opportunity that sports genre offers?

Sports is becoming a very important expression of humanity. Today people talk about
globalization where we are looking at the entire world with one common thread of humanity,
sports has helped in achieving that.

There is a lot of equality on a sports field, no discrimination – two people competing on a one on one or as one unit . Sports is gaining importance at various levels across the world, there are a lot of good
associations to speak of, Olympics is a huge platform to speak of. It is no surprise that India
is moving in the same direction with IPL, ISL, and so on.

There are a lot of local, rural sports activities which are gaining popularity, the recent direction of Government of India promoting Khelo India to schools is really exciting, its good drive to inculcate sporting DNA into kids as they grow up.

When you look at all of this together, as a marketer sports becomes one of the most important
tools to associate with. The point is that sports is all about challenging yourself on a day to
day basis, not being satisfied with what you have achieved yesterday and striving for more
and that resonates strongly with what Tata Motors stands for.

We have been growing consistently over the period of 18 months that is a good example of not being satisfied with what we have achieved last month and I think there is a very strong fit for Tata Motors to be associated with sports. Sports has been in the DNA of Tata Group for a long time across many sporting activities.

It will keep playing a key role in the coming times IPL 2018 brings into play multi-platform, multi-language feeds. IPL will stream live on mobile, reach Indian homes through 10 plus channels and over 6 languages

 #3- How can the marketers leverage the IPL in its new avatar differently over the previous seasons and gain maximum value? 

We have been associated with IPL in the past, we associated with Zest. We were associated with King XI IPL. At Tata Motors, we see cricket and IPL as a great opportunity. This year on one side we have multi-language, different streams and Hotstar going live but also IPL has become expensive so it’s a mixed bag. It’s a big opportunity to go rural and go deeper into the country.

With multi language feed coming up, IPL is really going to penetrate in smaller towns. It’s one of the biggest opportunities this year and it’s a very good move by the broadcaster to go multi-language with vernacular feeds. We would see more interest from smaller towns apart from the 8 cities which are involved in the game.

#4- How do you think brand custodians can become more creative in leveraging and making their brands stand out among the clutter?

The key is to be able to make content which is relevant across the country. While IPL remains to be a strong property in larger cities, this year it’s going to go much deeper into the country. So, how are you going to make your communication relevant across these demographics, this is a real challenge. Any brand manager who manages to achieve that kind of communication will get their money’s worth

There is a growing focus on non-live content around IPL and other sports leagues, as fans are getting to see facets beyond just the live match. Auction, Pre Post shows, building team rivalries pre match, behind the scenes etc.

Also Read: #Interview Vinit Karnik, GroupM on the evolving sports marketing economy

#5- What is your view on how can the brands ride upon the unique opportunity that sports genre offers can?

Firstly, non-live content is meant to build the franchise brands; world over we have seen that stronger the franchise brand becomes the stronger the sporting property becomes

Non Live Content, building rivalries is a very important tool for the franchise. Overall it makes the game more interactive and drives intent from the viewers. Non Live content is good and very important; it can lead to great amount of growth and traction if done in the right way.

I see the non-live content going two directions one for the cricket lover, cricket purist who would love to hear about the dynamics of the game, teams and players. On the other side it is for the Fan – fan of the franchise! For them the excitement comes from wearing team jerseys, sporting team colors, competing with friends supporting other franchises, watching the sport together as a family. So, I think it is a combination of both which is going to work and IPL being the marketing juggernaut, I am sure both these streams will work very well.


#6- Which campaigns stand out in the way they have leveraged Sports Do you think Indian Brands need more inspiration from global brands? (Referring to how Brands leverage- Super Bowl, EPL)

One association that I really like is the Rolex association with Roger Federer & Wimbledon, to consider that the brand is associated with Federer and Wimbledon for such a long time frame. So I won’t call it a campaign it is much more than that.You have a player association, tournament association, they happen to be the timekeepers for the tournament,it’s quite 360 association around the sport and the tournament

The Rolex campaign and Rolex association is what I personally think has done extremely well. It is long-standing, even if you don’t look at the long time frame, the brand values are perfectly aligned to the tournament.

Indian brands can learn a lot including Tata Motors ourselves. One of the focuses is to find a much better brand alignment with whatever element of IPL we wish to associate with. We should also start looking at quality over quantity because I remember during IPL a lot of ads keep repeating, we should avoid that and look for deeper integrations with the association.

Vodafone’s ZooZoo campaign stands out in most minds as one of the most unique & engaging campaign around IPL


#7- Which other campaigns as per you are some of the most impactful ones on IPL?

Vodafone campaign last year was pretty interesting featuring the elderly couple going on a honeymoon to Goa and how Vodafone helps them to get a way around and manage to be in touch with their daughter. That is really well done, it’s not usual advertising but a different kind of content to look at with an eccentric set of actors and it was entertaining.

#8- What are the typical brand objectives to invest in sporting properties and what metrics are used to measure the success of such a campaign?

The brand objective doesn’t change depending upon the campaign for me it is the brand association with the right kind of customer and also what is the best for the brand metrics in term of awareness consideration and purchase decision. So, the brand metrics are the same, our brand is aligned to the sporting activity and what happens is in return? We get a very focused attention of people who are very likely to buy my brand. For example, I go back to Tiago on TVF, Tiago was supposed to be for exactly the kind of people who were featured in the web series.

Even the kind of usage that happened our customers think that the Tiago as a trustworthy companion, so that worked very well. That is the direction we use for sports concerns/concepts. A car that resonates extremely well with the sporting activity that we do.

Some of the good examples are, with Nexon we associated with Tata Mumbai Marathon where it was the lead car and also the car that transported all athletes. The tagline of Nexon is LEVEL NEX which means it is far superior to any other competitor and beats competitor on various aspects. And we look at the nature of the marathon they are in the same direction where it strived hard to keep improving on what they have done.They compete with best athletes across the world and still come ahead of them.So,forNexon and Tata Mumbai Marathon has worked extremely well. We have taken it forward and we are the lead car for top five marathons in the country. Based on that we realized that running and marathon has a great alignment with Nexonand we are building up on that. The consistency between the brand positioning and the sporting event has to be worked out very well. If we are able to achieve that the then brand metrics which continue to be awareness, consideration and purchase decision will be impacted strongly.

We measure the association in two ways, one is brand KPIs which are considered as brand awareness, recall – there are different words; the other is brand consideration. How many people will buy the car and how many will put that particular car in their shopping baskets?

We also evaluate the phase performance. If you associate with the right property, the associated metrics grow in the right direction and you can see an impact on sales

#9- What are some of the key trends marketers need to tap on to win over new audiences in this ever-evolving sports marketing environment?

  1. Consumer behaviour is changing every day. Earlier consumer behaviour used to be tracked on a yearly basis. Marketers should have a clear understanding of how behavioural economics is changing and adapt brand communication according to that.

2. The media landscape is evolving. The way media reaches consumers is changing even the word digital has become old-fashioned now. The approachhas to go deeper, keeping in mind how to reach customers and what are the right tools to invest upon and the behavioural economics is what I would put a lot of emphasis upon. Understanding consumer behaviour will help in optimizing budgets and also help reach the target audience in the right manner.

3. Digital is a part of the marketing mix, completely integrated. But we also need to be more aware of               how the customer behaves. How their behaviour is changing on a daily basis or their relationship       with  the brand is changing on a daily basis.

Especially in automotive, what Tata Motors is focusing on is touch and feel marketing. It is just not enough to do television commercials or print ads – customers can’t touch and feel the product. People buy cars and automotive only when they touch, feel, and drive it. We are investing a lot of money into getting people to sit in our car and experience it. And the word is experiential marketing but we would like to call it a bit more than that. We want people to touch feel our car and see how beautiful they are, how well finished and how impact design philosophy has transformed the way a Tata Motors car looks.

I would recommend to other brand managers to be clear about their product and one key element of the product they want to focus on. For us, it is to get customers touch and feel the product. These are the two areas I would recommend brand managers to focus upon.

The interview is a part of the series, #BrandsLuvIPL, featuring Top Brand Custodians and Marketers to ascertain the reach, impact and the untapped potential of sports marketing in India with reference to IPL.