Dhanu Saini is a young cricket enthusiast who has been serving Kheer (Indian style pudding) whenever India won a cricket match. From the age of 13 she has been collecting pictures, articles and all kinds of clippings about Team India. “I lived in a hostel back in college. Whenever India played I would bunk class and go sit in the canteen to cheer for my team. I was the only girl there. I used to tell everyone if India wins, I will make Kheer for them. And I did. Every time India won a match.”
For her #BleedBlue means only one thing – The Indian Cricket Team. “The nation comes together. If there is a match, there is only one colour you see: blue. And that blue represents the Indian Cricket Team. India is so diverse in so many aspects. But when anyone says cricket, you think of unity, you think of #BleedBlue.” Dhanu is one of the millions of Indians for whom cricket is a religion and the Men in Blue are the gods.
Nike, the single most valuable sport brand which has put its money behind some of the world’s biggest names in sports, is also associated with the Indian cricket team for the ongoing ICC World Cup 2015. Nike’s association with Indian cricket team goes back to 2005 when it signed on a five year deal worth $45 million, which got spiked after India lifted its second World Cup in 2011. With India trying to retain its World Cup, Nike chipped in as the official kit sponsor and Star India, the jersey sponsor.
Around mid-January, a month before the ICC World Cup, India’s official team jersey was unveiled. Nike, the official apparel sponsor of the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI), crafted the latest Team India uniform in a bold new design with some of Nike’s global apparel innovations to help the team perform at their best.
— Nike Cricket (@nikecricket) January 18, 2015
At the launch BCCI revealed that inputs were taken from Captain Dhoni and Vice-Captain Virat Kohli in the new design of the jersey and kit. The new team jersey displays a new shade of blue and the modern technicalities to suit players, something Nike is well-known for. Talking about the design innovation, the strands that are drawn in the front are of our national flag which has the 24 lines in the Ashoka Chakra. Keeping the environment in mind, each kit by Nike is made out of an average 33 recycled plastic bottles.
Bollywood actress, Deepika Padukone was roped in to sport the new team India jersey. In a candid pictorial captured by renowned photographer Bharat Sikka, Deepika and fellow cricket devotees from around the country share their passion for sport, cricket and Team India while wearing the new Team India jersey.
— Nike Cricket (@nikecricket) February 14, 2015
“The minute you think of blue, you think of cricket. And Nike has managed to capture that. Now that we have the World Cup coming up, you can actually feel the atmosphere changing, you can feel that people are gearing up. The Bleed Blue campaign is one of those things that really help sort of elevate that entire experience. I think blue equals cricket,” added Deepika while sharing what Bleed Blue means to her.
Blue is the color that the Indian team has donned in the limited overs game. With a young Indian team under the captaincy of Dhoni, trying to retain the World Cup, Nike wanted to discover what does #BleedBlue mean to them. From ex-cricketer Kapil Dev, who won the first world cup for India to entrepreneur Anand Ahuja, a fashion blogger, to the Indian National Women Cricket team, everyone had a story to share.
Kapil Dev – Indian Cricket Legend: “Passion. You must have passion to play for your country, yourself and your families. This passion is what carried me through. To the next generation of athletes, dream big and when passion takes you onto the national stage, that is when you #bleedblue.”
Indian National Women’s Cricket Team: “#BleedBlue for us is about going out there and representing this great nation, about trying to meet all of their expectations. Very few women are fortunate enough to wear the blue and the tri-color and what greater honour can there be than carrying your country’s name across your chest?”
Nengneihat Kom, Boxer: “There are no shortcuts. You have to work very hard to succeed. I give my 100% for my country whenever I am in the ring. The same as what our cricketers do when they’re on the field. The opportunities are immense. Sports can give you the chance to represent your country internationally and make your country proud. The fact that I am representing my country drives me. Representing my country – that’s what #BleedBlue means to me.”
While these stories captured eyeballs on social media, the Twitter account of the brand built conversations around #BleedBlue by asking cricket fans to share their story. Influencers were the happy ones to get a free Indian jersey to sport during the ongoing ICC World Cup.
Missing the social media push
Nike’s effort to share stories beyond cricketing legends is an awesome effort. India is a cricket frenzy nation and there would be millions of stories waiting to be told. At a time when other brands are focusing on other forms of promotions, Nike has taken the storytelling route which is a worthwhile effort.
How else would one know what #BleedBlue means to a female model or a golfer or a musician. Besides in an effort to find out #BleedBlue stories, Nike has also showcased how Team India has come to represent the passion and dedication of those who are willing to work hard, make sacrifices and do whatever it takes to make the most of their potential.
Like in the case of Kaveri, art history student who always watched the games with her dad and in this process not only did she understand the game but also her dad. “I always watched the game with my dad. It was my way of bonding with him. I didn’t just understand the game better, but I understood my dad better. #BleedBlue is about everyone with different interests and wants coming together to support and believe in one thing.”
— Nike Cricket (@nikecricket) March 15, 2015
Armed with these stories, Nike has been able to bring together a diverse nation that wants to support and believe in one thing, that is cricket. However, the same effort was missing on digital and social media. Other than posting these stories on Facebook and Twitter, initiating one or two odd conversations and retweeting the influencer tweets, the social media leg had nothing much to do with the campaign. May be the zeal of #BleedBlue was missing on social media.
Image credit: Facebook