We have planned activations straddling various digital platforms for IPL, says Komal Mehra of Usha

Marketing | September 10, 2020 | Interview

Usha International Mumbai Indians Komal Mehra

Usha International, which is set to continue as the official partner for Mumbai Indians in the forthcoming Indian Premier League (IPL) for the seventh consecutive year, is all abuzz about the association. The 13th edition of the IPL will be held in the United Arab Emirates across three venues – Sharjah, Abu Dhabi, and Dubai - from the third week of September, 2020. 
Speaking on the continued partnership, a Mumbai Indians spokesperson said, “Our long-standing association with Usha International exuberates a sense of pride and trust between the two brands. We value our partnership with Usha and look forward to yet another season of cricketing extravaganza with our fans.”

EVENTFAQS Media caught up with Komal Mehra, Head - Sports Initiatives and Associations, Usha International, to know more about her views on the long-term partnership and postponement of IPL 2020. 

How would you evaluate the ROI from the long-standing partnership with Mumbai Indians? 

Our collaboration with Mumbai Indians aligns perfectly with Usha’s brand ethos ‘Play’ which promotes an active and healthy lifestyle. After six years of successful association, it is only fitting for Usha to continue its association with Mumbai Indians, as an official partner. This association gives us a great opportunity to build brand salience and strengthen our consumer connect across categories. In fact, with the onset of the festival season, this cricket league will only add to the festive fervour, bringing some bloom amidst the gloom. 

Our association with the Mumbai Indians team for the seventh consecutive year bears testimony to our commitment to honour and stand by our partners, especially during these tough times. While this is an unprecedented time, rather than think about scaling down, we see it as our chance to play a bigger role in consumers’ lives. How we react to this crisis could fortify our relationship with consumers for years to come.

Did you ever reconsider the association, after the IPL was postponed and relocated to the UAE in 2020?

First postponement, and then a change in venue, and more so closed door matches – yes, these will definitely affect many things, but these are unprecedented times wherein we are all learning and adapting to see how best we can be resilient and overcome such challenges. Cricket fans and cricket-associated brands will miss out on in-stadia experience and on-ground activations, but safety and well-being of everyone takes precedence over everything else. So, brands need to be cognizant of their marketing strategies, and address the larger issue at hand mindfully, rather than seeking opportunistic inroads.

At Usha, we constantly look at ways in which we can authentically engage sports talent to promote a healthy and active lifestyle among all citizens of the country. To take forward this message, last year we partnered with Brian Lara to help create awareness about the importance of developing a sporting culture at the grass roots, national, and international level and take forward the Usha ‘Play’ ethos.

Our association with Mumbai Indians is another route to highlight it, reiterating Usha’s intent to create and support inclusive platforms and equal opportunities in sports. With the number of COVID-19 cases increasing by the day, it could be a while before professional sports leagues could realistically have open door events in India. However, the cricket season kick-starting behind closed doors in the UAE is a great move for the cricketing ecosystem and the brands associated with it.

With on-air and digital being the only avenues to leverage the association this year, are there on-ground elements you had to forgo? How will you make up for those? 

The forthcoming IPL cricket matches herald the onset of the cricket season in India, and are one of the most-awaited sporting events for global audiences. This year, viewership is expected to be the highest ever. Cricket fans are not mere spectators but vocal and participative, therefore it is important to engage with them at all levels. With COVID-mandated restrictions in place this year, the focus is on creating memorable virtual experiences. We have planned a series of activations straddling various digital platforms for growing stakeholder engagement and brand recall – online contests on days when Mumbai Indians are playing, meet and greets. The brand will also launch a unique digital campaign, featuring select players.

With the current situation showing no signs of abating in the foreseeable future, digital acceleration is the order of the day for brands to reach out to consumers using uniquely crafted creative content. We are confident that there will be a high level of digital engagement as fans will be connecting and expressing themselves socially, giving brands a great opportunity to strengthen consumer connect across categories. Our association with Mumbai Indians gives us an amazing platform to leverage and strengthen our consumer and partner connect across categories through on-air and digital platforms.

EVENTFAQS Media caught up with Komal Mehra, Head - Sports Initiatives and Associations, Usha International, to know more about her views on the long-term partnership and postponement of IPL 2020.

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