Hockey has been the ‘unofficial’ national game of India ever since the country in 1928, won its first Olympic gold medal. Until 1960 it remained unbeaten in the Olympics, winning six gold medals in a row.
Now, a week before the Odisha Men's Hockey World Cup gets underway in Bhubaneswar The Drum spoke with Vishal K Dev, commissioner-cum-secretary Odisha Tourism and Department of Sports and Youth Services about how the games will lift the region.
Odisha Tourism, host partner of the World Cup kickstarted marketing activities in July when it unveiled the ‘Odisha by Morning, Hockey by Evening’ campaign in London during the Women’s Hockey World Cup. Recently, Bollywood actor Shahrukh Khan confirmed his participation in the opening ceremony and featured in the World Cup anthem video sung by Oscar winner AR Rahman.
On how sports events like the Hockey World Cup can be leveraged to push tourism Dev says: "We strongly believe that the World Cup will put the state on the global map as a prominent ‘global sports destination’. Last year, when we organised the Asian Athletics Championship and Hockey World League, the state received a record footfall of both national and international tourists. This year we aim to surpass that. Plus, for tourists, there are lot of options to explore in the state from ecotourism to religious tourism to Buddhist tourism among others.”
Apart from a tourism campaign, the state also launched two specific campaigns to promote hockey in the country.
Dev elaborates: “Through the campaign titled 'Heartbeats for Hockey' we wanted to woo people to support hockey through music, entertainment, fashion, sport and panel discussions. The digital campaign starred the national hockey team urging people to pledge their support for the game.”
The government also launched an on-ground discussion platform called 'Hockey Adda' to further amplify the campaign. ‘Heartbeat Canters’ were sent across selected cities in India to promote the world cup. Meanwhile, the World Cup was promoted at various tourism events and roadshows in both India and abroad (PATA Malaysia, WTM London, India Travel Mart). Odisha Tourism further took to OOH to resonate the campaign message.
Dev further highlights the importance of brand association during events. He says: “We signed an MoU with Oyo Rooms to increase the inventory of rooms on its platform and endeavour to take on board the hotels and home stays in Odisha to accommodate enhanced demand during the tournament. We also signed a content partnership With TripAdvisor to boost inflow of tourists ahead of the Hockey Men’s World Cup Bhubaneswar 2018.”
The state also signed 11 MoU’s with companies like Tata, Aditya Birla group, Reliance Foundation, Jindal Steel Work (JSW) among others. The state further implemented an engaging social media strategy to engage with fans via quizes and giving out hockey sticks and match passes as prizes. Also, radio promotions were done across various cities in India in partnership with Red FM.
Dev also said: “The city has undergone massive beautification and become digitalised for the upcoming World Cup to engage locals and visitors.
The city has implemented a non-motorised transport system (NMT) for the ease of people coming over for the world cup. Around 100 e-toilets are being set-up in the city so that sanitation situation is taken care. The city under its 'Bhubaneswar Me WiFi' aims to make the city accessible at key places while it has also gone cashless with the introduction of 'Odyssey card'."
Bhubaneswar Municipal Authority further under its Street Art And Murals Project (STAMP) brought together artists and volunteers to paint the city’s largest wall murals along a 40km road network to promote the World Cup.
A unique Public Bicycle Sharing System under the Bhubaneswar Smart City Limited (BSCL) is also set to launch as part of which 2000 GPS installed bicycles will be provided at docking stations across the city. Bhubaneswar Development Authority has further signed a partnership with Clean Air Asia for sustainable smart environment ahead of the world cup.