Dance to the Samba

Tear gas in the morning, fireworks in the evening. It was a day of contrasts in Brazil as the country opened the World Cup with clashes between riot police and protesters in Sao Paulo, before wild street celebrations when the “selecao” beat Croatia 3-1 after coming from behind.

The fireworks that exploded over the mega-city after each goal for Brazil made the tear gas and clashes just up the road from Corinthians Arena seem so much more distant.

Bars overflowed with people into the streets. Pharmacists switched their stores’ televisions to the game. Fuel station workers sat on plastic chairs, watching a flat-screen TV tied to the back of a car.

After months of violent protests over the $11 bn cost of hosting the World Cup, some who watched the victory with 300 others in a Sao Paulo street bedecked in yellow and green banners voiced hope such victories could tame the street rage.
Even as the mood in Brazilian streets changed from a conflicting to a conciliatory one, there were celebrations and enthusiasm worldwide including India. Many products and services, starting from consumer durables to FMCG are jumping into this global celebratory bandwagon, but it again seems the IT channel is keeping itself aloof from this world’s largest sporting carnival.
While many of the tech vendors (especially the MNCs) are taking advantage of this hoopla, the important question will be can our partners take advantage of this frenzy to bolster their businesses. One can argue partners do not have much influence on this; it will be more the impact of the marketing campaign of a particular brand. While that is true to a large extent, the partners too can have impact, especially at a regional level, depending on areas like Bengal or Goa where football is more popular.
And thanks to the global reach of TV sports channels, icons like Messi, Neymar, Ronaldo and Suarez now more or less transcend all regions aspirations; obviously leveraging these brands or even the hype around telecast could mean better business for our partners. As the World Cup goes on and excitement builds to a crescendo, this could mean more football mania; it is now up to the partners to leverage this mania skillfully to improve their toplines and bottomlines.
Partners should immediately jump into this bandwagon; align better with the vendor marketing campaigns; insist for more schemes leveraging football; and most importantly do some aggressive marketing on their own to pass the ball better, using a football metaphor. The Samba is bound to get more entertaining in Brazil, but only then its tunes will sound music for Indian channel partners.

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