With an estimated 120 million players around the world, cricket is reportedly the second most popular spectator sport in the world.  As much a passion for South Asians as hockey is for Canadians, cricket is not just a great game but a driving force of social change breaks down barriers, creates lifelong friendships and largely defines “fun” for its avid fans.

Interestingly, Canada is not alien to cricket.  It has a long association with the sport dating back to 1785, when the earliest known matches were played at île Sainte-Hélène in Quebec. The Canadian Cricket Association (now Cricket Canada) has been in existence since 1892. In 1989, Canadian cricket made history when over 40,000 fans watched a match at the Toronto Sky Dome. Today, Ontario has 47 clubs, 92 teams and over 1380 registered players, not to mention the largest South Asian diaspora who grow up playing cricket and bring their love of the game with them.  Nationally, South Asian Canadians are a 1.7 million strong community, 68% of which are first generation with a median age of 33.

Canadian companies that spend millions of marketing dollars behind NHL, NFL, MLB and NBA, to connect with mainstream audiences know how well sports marketing works.  Emotional connect with hockey is no less than cricket for South Asians and the cricket realm provides immense opportunities for brands to reach out to this booming consumer segment and win over minds and hearts.

One such event is the ICC Champions Trophy, a One Day International (ODI) cricket tournament organised by the International Cricket Council (ICC).   This eighth tournament in this series will be played in England between June 1 and June 18 2017.  Magnitude of this event can be gauged by the fact that compared to FIFA World Cup 2014 Final, that received television viewership of 1.2 billion; the ICC Champions Trophy 2013 Final received 1.8 billion television viewers!

Cricket influences followers and fans well beyond TV, with social media nearly as fierce a battleground as the tournament arena itself.  The 2016 World Twenty20 saw record-breaking social media activity – close to 9 million tweets – an increase of 122% per match tweets from the IPL (Indian Premiere League) just a year earlier.

Similarly, the ICC World Cup 2015 “Mauka Mauka” – meaning “chance” (of winning) in Hindi – video campaign went hugely viral as it successfully ignited cricket passions of most South Asian fans across the world.  Just after 12 hours of going online, the ad already had over a million views with total views crossing 12 million.  At the same time, Facebook engagement crossed 6.2 million and Twitter following reach 1.1 million.  The campaign was so successful in engaging audiences that it set off a series of user generated content including dozens of spoof videos and memes that stacked up millions of more views.

Video: Star Sports: Mauka Mauka (India vs Bangladesh) – ICC Cricket World Cup 2015

The upcoming tournament presents Canadian companies with a huge opportunity to leverage traditional, online and social media for a cricket driven campaign that could create an enduring emotional connect with South Asian audiences.

Statcan estimates South Asian population, the fastest growing ethnicity in Canada, to reach 3.2 to 4.1 million by 2031, fueled largely by high influx of new immigrants.  Partnering with specialists who not only understand these “new” consumers but also how cricket tugs at their heartstrings, can open up for marketers an unprecedented dimension of opportunities that are distinctly stimulating, engaging and effective.

Visit here to connect with us to understand how your brand can leverage cricket is one of the tactics to reach out to South Asian audiences.

Photo Credit: Top Photo by the Hindustan Times