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    After years of steady patronage, corporate India is showing signs of cricket fatigue and the country's maiden Formula One race next month looks like being the immediate beneficiary

    Indian companies have long loosened the purse strings for cricket while responding frugally to other sports, ensuring the cricket board remains a rare national federation that does not accept government grants. "My feeling is that it's going to change, at least for motorsport," Mahindra and Mahindra marketing and automotive senior vice president Vivek Nayar told Reuters.

    "You have the most prestigious motorsport event coming to India next month and I know there will be a change in perception after Oct 30 (race day)." Nayar's company will supply the official intervention and support vehicle to the Buddh International Circuit, helping transport marshals around the track. The 2010 world championship enjoyed a 527 million global television audience but Formula One is seen in India as a niche sport, followed primarily by youngsters.

    That is precisely the segment Indian telecom giant Bharti Airtel was looking for, said CEO (India and South Africa) Sanjay Kapoor. "We wanted to establish the brand as pro-youth and dynamic. After all, 65 percent of our population is below the age of 30," Kapoor said after his company bagged the title sponsorship, reportedly at a price of $8.5 million (5.37 million pounds) for a three-year period. "Formula One is very relevant at this juncture when we are trying to transform our business and trying to be a global brand. It fits very well with our overall strategy."

    That strategy has meant dropping a high-profile cricket tournament like the Champions League Twenty20. Airtel has turned its back on a title sponsorship midway through a five-year deal they had landed in 2009, reportedly for $40 million."While creating the right mix, some of the old sponsorships would get dropped and some new would come in. It's part of man
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