Zilliz recently caught up with Ambar Aneja, the Chief Executive Officer and Co-Founder of Six5six Sport, who has recently penned down a three-year deal with Indian Super League side Kerala Blasters as their Kit sponsors. Having the experience of working with the Kochi-based club previously in 2018, Six5Six is reuniting with the Blasters to weave a new tourney. In an exclusive interview with Zilliz, Mr. Aneja shared his insights and thoughts on the partnership and much more.
On being asked about how the deal cracked and what were the reasons why KBFC chose them, he said
” A couple of reasons, Nikhil from KBFC and the team would be more apt to answer this but on a collective perspective, it’s important to build an identity around the team and represent the team in the best possible manner. The discussions from the start were very simple; to do it in a way that represents the club as well as the brands’ design ideology and take our time and do it right. Our company is a fairly young company and KBFC, as a club they are 6-7 years old but as an organization, they are young, youth-driven, focusing on the youth both on-field as well as the kind of people they have on board.”
He added that the youthfulness brought in the synergy to brainstorm and was able to understand what the club had in mind.
Kerala Blasters have had numerous sponsors in the past and on being asked about accommodating the brands elegantly in the jerseys, he said
“That’s a problem that we’ve always faced, everyone including us has dealt through. This time we are launching both options for the fans, for which we’ve got approval from the club as well. We will launch an option that is just gonna be the title sponsor and the kit manufacturer logo on the right side. Even though the players won’t be wearing it, there is an option that it will be available for sale. The fans will have an option to choose whether to go with the one with all the sponsors or they can go with the one with the kit manufacturers logo.”
Talking about bringing freshness to the table, he said
“In terms of different kinds of merchandise, I think you can expect a lot. I will not reveal anything but there will be a fair few different options to choose from for any consumer, whether you are a casual KBFC fan or a hardcore fan.”
Talking about the quality of the merchandise, the young entrepreneur assured that with the experience of working in the field, with ISL clubs and the India national team, you can feel the quality when you see it. He added,
“You will see the immediate shift happening, the way the product is perceived, received and the quality once you feel it in your hand, I think everyone will be able to find the difference between what is happening in the ecosystem currently and what we are bringing to it.”
With a massive fan following for the club, there are also instances of a shortage of jerseys for the fans. On being asked about tackling this concern, he said
” One of the reasons why kitting deals in India have not worked well in the past is because of the shortage of time. When you sign a brand a month or two months before the season, there is not too much time left for the brand to plan for the entire season more credibly to ensure availability. We have a good four and a half months before the season starts and we are already planning. We are gonna launch the jerseys for sale at least 40-45 days before the season starts and everyone is going to get a chance to wear them. We are also in talks with a few partners on the ground in Kerala so that we won’t be restricted online. But those are just discussions right now and are hoping to finalise a few. We will make sure that it is available for everyone and anyone. That’s ts the thought process.”
Talking about the pricing, Ambar shared some insights as he quoted
” Affordability is a challenge in a country like ours and with a club like KBFC, which is so hugely popular, we are gonna make sure that the merchandise is available but at the same time, we have to ensure that we can provide the quality. So it will start at about nine hundred rupees and go up till about two and a half thousand depending on the product. One edition of the jersey is gonna be 999 and one edition is gonna be 1499.”
Assuring on the quality he said
“if anyone is not happy with the jersey we put out, I will refund them myself and take the product back. That is my guarantee.”
The art of buying duplicate jerseys are always troublesome for the manufacturers and talking about that he said
” I don’t think that we can ever stop that from happening. At the end of the day, the message that we and the club want to put out is that every time you buy official club merchandise, it automatically benefits the club. Because there is a deal structure in place, which enables the club to earn from the merchandise sales. Our only message to the fans is that if you can genuinely afford it, if you can give back to the club that you call your own, then go ahead and buy the official merchandise .”
Ambar is confident about the partnership and feels optimistic about what is coming ahead.
” All of us are extremely excited by the prospect of building that identity and I think that is the reason why KBFC entrusted us in the first place. So, it’s gonna be a good season and a good couple more seasons beyond as well.”
The pandemic has been a bane and boon for all of us and talking about the sales in this situation he said,
“It helped to get people to be comfortable with purchasing products online and it is one of the things that we always focussed on was to ensure direct to customer channels for us. It has in a way changed the customer behavior to be comfortable with buying products online and we see that driving a lot of our sales going forward. Especially because the situation is still uncertain on the grounds whether about the third wave or any subsequent wave with the cases still rising and coming down all the time and having that in place is gonna be very very critical given that the league is happening on the ground in Goa.”
Amber told exclusively to Zilliz.