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Coca-Cola IPTL: A fine example of brands extracting emotional returns from sport

Anand Datla
FEATURED COLUMNIST
Modified 11 Dec 2014, 13:35 IST
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Fans in Delhi created a great atmosphere for tennis
 

Even in the biting cold of winter, the city of New Delhi turned warm when an avalanche of stars descended on it for the Coca-Cola International Premier Tennis League. Star power and tennis were indeed high on the agenda, but the canvas of sport has stretched far beyond that. The event was another fine reason to celebrate excellence, with plenty of people hungry to consume the show.

One of the reasons why sport is among the fastest growing industries globally is because of its innate connection with human emotion. And clearly, the sponsors who help create the events are beginning to warm up to that idea. No wonder then, that the Coca-Cola IPTL has been christened the ‘Happiness Open’.

It is certainly a tournament where tennis is played, but the core objective is to deliver happiness. As the league travels around Asia, it is offering an unparalleled opportunity for passionate fans to witness their idols and heroes in action. Many may have been rubbing their eyes in disbelief when they saw Roger Federer and Novak Djokovic across the net from each other in Delhi’s Indira Gandhi Indoor arena.

There the stars were, selling happiness to the people that were able to pay top dollar for it. Yes, it was fleeting; a quick set with no-ad scoring doesn’t provide the epic atmosphere of a Grand Slam final. But if that quick set brought with it oodles of entertainment, then why not?

Ask any sports professional and they will tell you that emotion is an important part of their arsenal. They spend countless hours mastering emotion, unleashing it only when they need it. And the spectators feed on that, sending waves of rapturous delight that spread through the steel lining the roof.

Several recent studies have underlined the growing relationship between sport and life. A PricewaterhouseCoopers study has estimated that global revenues from sport will be close to US$45 billion by next year.

Brands are making a beeline to get a piece of this emotional orgy that plays out in arenas around the globe. And Coca-Cola has decided to associate happiness with the tennis league, which is sponsored by them through four Asian cities.

The Coca-Cola IPTL has propagated the idea of ‘happiness’ right from its inception. Aside from being called the ‘Happiness Open’, there is also the concept of the ‘Happiness Power Point’, which has added to the excitement and unpredictability of the tennis on show. The tournament is one big carnival of tennis and life, and the spectators have certainly lapped it all up.

The emotional linkages between sport and people will only grow with time. And so will brands’ desire to associate their products with sport’s emotion, and all its incumbent benefits.

Published 11 Dec 2014, 11:58 IST
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