Delhi is at its best during winters and corporate India knows that all too well. Outdoor sporting events form an integral part of marketing activities today and Golf is one sport corporates have taken to like Fish to water.
Consider this: HT Golf 2002, Hero Honda Masters 2002, Women’s Era & ITDC’s Winter Golf 2002, BT – Am Ex Pro AM 2002, The Royal Challenge Indian Open, all took place in the past few months and the list is still incomplete. So what is it that makes corporates spend mega bucks on this sport? Says Barun Das, GM Marketing, Business Today “The popularity of the sport in corporate India combined with the match in Business Today’s audience offers us a perfect platform to reach out to our target audience.”
American Express, which has been the title sponsor of the event for the past few years find the association very fruitful. According to Mr. Rajiv Ahuja, Head Corporate Communications, “Golf today is seen as an avenue for strength to build up the existing relationship and building the new ones with the corporate as well as the readers at the golf course.”
“American Express has also had a history of being associated with Golfing events worldwide and this events fits into our strategy. Our association with the sport has also been strengthened with Tiger Woods as our official spokes person” adds Ahuja.
“The idea of course being Imagery association and relationship building with key clients” Das adds. Though it doesn’t come cheap. The promotional value attached to the BT event has been pegged at around Rs 70 lakhs. But given the fact that Living Media owns most of the media vehicles, which were used to promote the event, the promotional costs are more notional.
There are distinctions between the events though. The BT American Express has the distinction of being the only Pro-Am Golfing event that is recognized and accredited by the Professional Golfers Association of India (PGAI) and the prizes too ensure serious competition. A trip for the 2 best individual players to represent India in all England Club Championship at St. Andrews, Scotland where all expenses paid by Famous Grouse comes as the first prize. Three winning teams also go to Cairo, London and Dubai for a 4 day visit courtesy Marriott Hotels and Emirates.
Similarly the Royal Challenge Indian Open, which tees off from March 13-17, 2002 is being brought back to the Delhi Golf Club after a gap of seven years. However, this tournament will continue to offer US$300,000 in prize money with US$50,000 going to the winner, making it the richest golf event in this part of the world. It is to feature 100 pro golfers from 25 countries and more than 40 of the top Indian golfers. Rishi Narain, Director, Golf Business-South Asia of IMG which is organizing the Royal Challenge Indian Open, commenting on the trend of more and more corporates endorsing Golf says, “For the first time in the century-old history of golf in India, Shaw Wallace will not just sponsor the Indian Open but also tie-in a program that encompasses a series of national events as well as significant efforts to make premier quality golf equipment accessible to aspiring golfers and also educate them on the sport..”
Growing corporate interest has brought in more money for the sport and it''''s professionals. Caddy pros like Mukesh Kumar are earning upwards of Rs. 20 lakhs per annum from prize money alone and above this there are endorsement assignments from companies like Lacoste, Adidas, Dunhill. Narain of IMG further says that increasingly media marketers are utlizing Golf and gives the example of Telegraph which sponsored a Golf tournament in Calcutta in February and he forecasts a 50% growth in the coming year in the number of Corporate sponsored Golf tournaments. It is very clear today, Golf is an opportunity, which the marketing professional can’t afford to ignore at all! It delivers a very niche audience comprising mostly of decision makers and people who have a very high influence in whichever environment they operate in and that too very effectively.