AdStand: The Olympic Saga

Sports is not a part of our popular culture. There are very few movies that have sports as their theme, even fewer ads that have sports as their central narrative. There have been some movies with sports as central theme and they have done well, but that hasn’t inspired more such movies. Ads have just a few brands that use sports as central theme, even if sports is central theme in their global narrative.

No wonder the TV is muted even as Olympics are here and very few brands have sports as running theme. There are very few brands that are leveraging Olympic as an event or as theme.

Tata Salt and the making of Olympians

The brand that is leveraging sports in an interesting way is Tata salt’s #NamakKeWaastey campaign. It has little tales featuring some of India’s Olympians like Boxer Shiv Thapa, Wresteler Babita Kumari or the Shot-putter IndraJeet Singh.

The narrative if the whole campaign is very engaging. The story of struggles, hardwork, dedication of what makes a champion is very well told. Each film ends with a short action from the person’s chosen sport makes it very impactful. While I am not a fan of the hashtag the brand has used, the whole campaign is commendable. The digital campaign running along side has similar theme with many more sports people lending their support to the campaign adds to the whole campaign.

Edelweiss and Olympics

There is a lot happening on the sports front in India actually. Olympic Gold Quest is a long running programme that supports upcoming sports people. It gets the sportsperson financial support to follow their passion. Edelweiss has been one such company associated with the programme. They have released a kind of anthem making the whole country back the athletes. The #IamTeamIndia spot

This is a montage of people of all walks of life coming together to announce #IamTeamIndia. The spot could have become iconic, if only they had infused far greater energy into the commercial and made it like a true sports commercial it would have done the brand a world of good. Still it’s a good effort from a brand that is not a regular advertiser.

JSW’s #RuknaNahinHai is a winner

JSW’s spot on Olympic sponsorship of the girl who ran when she was happy and ran when she was sad and ran when she wanted to win is absolutely delightful. This is the kind of story telling that goes deep into the real motivations of the sports people and tells the hard choice they made in life. If there is a campaign that will be remembered even after the games are over, this will be remembered

Nike: not the Da Ding but the Unlimited You

If there is a brand that leverages the iconography of sports from pop culture then it is Nike. In India though, they haven’t cracked the code. Sadly they have fallen prey to celebrity endorsement (as against sport star endorsement). In India they took 8 of top sports stars and made them a support cast to Deepika Padukone. The same brand has created an inspirational commercial that has an almost locker-room style pep talk to a nursery full of babies who ultimately grow up to be the world’s superstars. This one has Serena Williams, and a host of basketball stars that practice their regular stuff and go about doing their regular stuff.

Everyone is going way too far is what the ad says in screaming motivational style. It shatters the age old baseline and brings in Unlimited You to celebrate the power of human endurance.

In India JSW has trumped Nike, not just in story telling, but also in really working hand in hand with the sportsmen and sportswomen.

Sports is not dominant in pop culture, yet the story needs to be told

As JSW shows the way, even if sports is not dominant narrative in pop culture, its role has not been diminished. There are people who tie their shoe laces and go out to run. There are wonders like Deepika Karmaker who come out and make India proud.

Its brands like JSW that are showing the way

As always the original was published at

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