Shaw Wallace & Co. Ltd. is banking on golf, cricket and possibly basketball to build equity for its various brands. The third of the four-leg Royal Challenge Grand Prix golf tournament kicked off in Chennai on Christmas Day, and the company reiterated its commitment to the sport and its aspirations for its flagship whisky brand. The company has committed Rs 50 crore to golf over the next five years.
Its strong beer brand, Haywards 5000, is linked with cricket, and the company had also planned to tie up with the West Indies team for the World Cup. It is currently re-negotiating the deal, and has World Cup promos for Director's Special Whisky, Royal Challenge beer and Haywards 5000 beer. It is also looking at linking with basketball next year, as the sport is gaining in popularity.
Seeing an opportunity in golf, the company tied up with the Indian Golf Union (IGU) and the International Management Group (IMG) last year. It is now the title sponsor of the $300,000 Indian Open and the Grand Prix - which is an official event of the Hero Honda Golf Tour and supported by Pepsi, Air Sahara and Ten Sports.
The tournament is backed by a multi-media campaign, comprising two TV spots and press ads, created by Lowe. The company plans to spend Rs 10 crore annually, with about half that spend going towards the Indian Open in March; each of the Grand Prix events requires a spend of about Rs 25 lakh, excluding the media spend.
According to sources in IMG, corporate spending in golf has grown by about 200 per cent in the last three years. IMG has been working with the IGU on the Indian Open since 1998, and has entered a five-year title sponsorship agreement with Shaw Wallace. Currently, excluding media spend, there is between Rs 10-15 crore in golf; major sponsors include Hero Honda, the liquor companies, airlines, MNC banks and auto companies.
IMG is working at making golf, which is often regarded as an elitist sport, more appealing to the masses, and more exciting to audiences. Typically, followers have skewed to older and male, but that is changing with the universal popularity of Tiger Woods, the entry of younger players and well-known celebrities like Kapil Dev and actor Madhavan, and the improved performances of Indian players on the Asian circuit.