From Uber to American Tourister, brand anthems flood ICC World Cup pitch

Uber was early to launch a Word Cup anthem
Anthems are the flavour of the season as brands across categories and nationalities are singing their way through the ICC World Cup, hoping to strike the right notes with the billions glued to the games. However, a formulaic approach–with Oppo, Uber, Bingo, American Tourister, Kamala Pasand and scores of other brands espousing national pride and support for the Indian team–could render the efforts futile, making the campaigns indecipherable from each other and open to ambush, say experts.


While anthems have their advantages, they are high risk ventures. If the song and its execution do not capture the moment and the pulse of the nation, it does not provide the brand with the stickiness it seeks. K V Sridhar, chief creative officer and founder of ad agency, Hyper Collective said that not all brands understand the rationale of a cricket anthem. “My advice to advertisers is think for half an hour, act for 10 minutes. But they do it the other way,” he added.


Despite the risk, brands have been reckless with its use this World Cup. Because for many, cricket and music are the pulsating lifelines that run through the Indian consumer landscape and an anthem brings the two together. For Chinese handset brand Oppo, cricket helps create mass appeal while music helps bind the different kinds of customers together around a single string.


Will Yang, CMO Oppo, South Asia said, “Our association with ICC and BCCI has provided us with the best opportunity to engage with audiences from different age groups and establish ourselves as a young brand.” Its anthem, ‘Jeet pe apna haq hai’ (we have a right over the Cup) was composed by the popular musician-duo Meet Bros and the campaign features cricketers Rohit Sharma, Shikhar Dhawan, Kedar Jadhav and Jasprit Bumrah. On TikTok, the video sharing platform, within 24 hours, the campaign generated over a million views.

Ola’s recent campaign gently puts down Uber's efforts

Sandeep Goyal, chairman, Mogae Media says that good lyrics and music could make brands memorable, bestowing them with benefits that last beyond the World Cup. Uber was keen to do just that with its ‘Way-O Way-O’ cheer song. Manisha Lath Gupta, marketing director, Uber India & South Asia said, “Through its anthem, Uber wants to reiterate the magic that happens when people come together.” She believes that the Uber anthem is global and can be used as a brand identifier in several countries, not just in India and that is its distinction. “It also puts fans at the heart of the song, instead of players, thus establishing a connection between fans and giving them a voice to cheer, which is a completely different proposition,” she said.


Uber’s anthem inspired rival Ola to come up with what it calls an anti-anthem. “We did not want to jump on to the offers bandwagon, but continue to give users what they really care about and do what we do best. Hence our campaign video states that we will not dilute the craze for the world cup by swamping the customers with offers but enable them to get to their favourite destination to watch the match,” said an Ola spokesperson.


Puma’s ‘Sock them’ and pan masala brand, Kamala Pasand’s ‘Ek Aur Baar’ (one more time) follow the same path albeit along a more aggressive track. Puma uses Virat Kohli’s familiar belligerence and the latter, India’s previous victory, to set the tone. Experts say that the propensity for anthems is high this World Cup because of the rising need for video content.


For Sridhar, there is a larger role that anthems can play if brands are strategic in their use. It can help brands access the glamour of expensive sports stars through the fans, without having to stretch their budget. “So they make an anthem, take the fans and then find some space in that cluttered cricket space. That is a strategic intent,” he said.


Anthems are also used by brands to imply an official association with the tournament even if there is none said Goyal. “It gives a kind of ‘official halo’ if you do an anthem. It increases the halo around the brand, the general perception around it. It is positioned as a way for the brand to wish the team, but in reality you are sponging off the moment,” he added.

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