Post Thumb
Deepak Gulati

For marketers, sport is a huge opportunity to engage with consumers across the world. And while traditional advertising can give a brand its desired reach, content marketing surely has the highest potential when it comes to engagement and reach.

Content marketing being an integral part of auto parts company Bridgestone India’s marketing strategy, the brand has brought its global content-led campaign ‘Chase Your Dream’ to India around the Olympic Games.

First unveiled a year prior to the 2016 games, it highlights the pursuit of performance that Bridgestone shares with the Olympic Movement and honours the commitment necessary to stay on course to realise one’s dreams.

The campaign video:

As part of the initiative, sportspersons Padma Vibhushan MC Mary Kom (Boxing), Padma Bhushan PV Sindhu, Padma Shri Srikanth Kidambi (Badminton) and Padma Shri Sakshi Malik (Freestyle Wrestling) talk about the struggles and tribulations they faced on the road to their success in a highly inspiring and motivational campaign that Bridgestone India launched.

Talking about the campaign, Deepak Gulati, CMO, Bridgestone India, “Through this association, we hope to cut across boundaries and connect with our target consumers in a special way. We are calling out a billion cricket fans to come and support Indian athletes who are chasing their dreams and bringing laurels for the nation. We believe if the hard work, passion and challenges of a sportsperson are no different across the sports, then why should the support be any different, be it cricket or any other sport. We should support and motivate our athletes to eventually help India become a holistic sporting nation.”

Gulati that sports signifies performance and endurance, which is core to the brand’s products, including tyres. “Our association with sports personalities helps us connect with our target consumers in a very special way, cutting across the boundaries of specific sports and relating to the core spirit behind every sport. I believe the ‘Chase Your Dream’ campaign is effective as we are keen to invest in improving the sports culture in India,” he added.

To share these athletes' stories with the people, Bridgestone India created a microsite and to drive engagement, the brand is generating a lot of user-generated content where they are asking people to tell and share the story of their struggles as they successfully chased their dreams.

Bridgestone Corporation, headquartered in Tokyo, became a Worldwide Olympic Partner in 2014 and a Worldwide Paralympic Partner in 2018. The company has global rights to the Olympic and Paralympic Movements through to 2024, a period that includes the Olympic and Paralympic Games Tokyo 2020, Beijing 2022 and Paris 2024.

Gulati believes content marketing has been King and will be so for the foreseeable future. He said over the last year, the role of content marketing has become ever more powerful. “It is one of those marketing tools that allowed us to stay connected and engaged with our consumers despite everyone being confined to their homes. Social media has been a key enabler for brands to drive engagement with targeted consumers.”

“At Bridgestone, we understand the power of content marketing and have a well-crafted content strategy that helps us drive higher engagement with our customers and improves their understanding of our offerings. We invest significantly in content development, not just in terms of costs, but time and effort in understanding the consumers in order to make relevant content, because that is the key to a successful content strategy. Content marketing has evolved with changes in consumption patterns moving from static posts over social media platforms to video, voice, etc. It aims to entertain as well as inform.

Last year, the brand launched a two-and-a-half minute film titled ‘Heroes of the Road’, which was a tribute to truck drivers who worked relentlessly through the lockdown to ensure essential supplies are not disrupted. Along with that, the brand is present across several knowledge platforms to engage with consumers through content around its product category.

Bridgestone’s first choice of distributing content is digital. Gulati said, “We have already seen some of the key automakers taking the digital route to promote the brands and maintain social distancing. The sector too is taking the digital route to reinforce the brands’ presence online. Looking at the customer sentiments, it is extremely important for the auto sector to be a part of the content marketing game as the consumers prefer digital platforms for research and purchase these days and this trend will continue.”

Gulati said content needs to be relevant, engaging, and impactful, and in line with your brand purpose. He said, “Any innovative content should address the core philosophy of the brand and should be based on thorough research. Customer purchase journeys are becoming shorter but more involved, thanks to the democratisation of information. They want to know more and understand more about the products, and they are looking for credible recommendations.”

During the pandemic, to keep consumer engagement going, Bridgestone created content around safety aspects that the brand had brought about at all dealerships. The brand leveraged its athletes on board to create content that encouraged consumers to stay at home and stay fit with exercise regimes given by the athletes

Gulati said, “The pandemic compelled us all to rethink our marketing strategies while keeping safety and health of our people above all commitments. Our marketing messaging and strategies were adapted based on demands of the changing times. Be it any function of the business, the pandemic has taught us to be more agile and responsive to the ever-changing market and consumer needs. There have been several changes in consumer behaviour over the last year.”

In general, health and safety have been of paramount importance in the consumers’ minds and therefore contactless buyer-seller arrangements, personal mobility, and everything digital, whether for education or entertainment, has seen a huge impetus, Gulati said.