Hero ends its long innings of cricket sponsorship

author image CarTrade Editorial Team
Saturday 16 February 2013, 00:11 AM

Hero MotoCorp Limited (HMCL), India's top two-wheeler manufacturing company, has ended its cricketing ties and decided to focus on other sporting events such as hockey, shooting and athletics. This decision has been taken by the company's top management, after being associated with Indian cricket for more than two decades. HMCL was the erstwhile sponsor of the Mumbai Indians cricket team during Indian Premier League (IPL) and also for major International Cricket Council (ICC) events.

However, a few key elements of brand association still remain. Virender Sehwag continues to be its brand ambassador. The current decision of disintegrating from Indian cricket is seen by industry experts as a strategic move. Reportedly, HMCL was the main sponsor of the Hocket India League (HIL), which ended in first week of February 2013. The company holds a four-year contract with the International Hockey Federation for sponsoring all the hockey events in India.

As per brand expert and author Anjali Chauhan, Hero shall continue to make its presence felt despite the dissociation. She said, “Hero is a mammoth brand, and if there is a brand which can snap ties with cricket and still survive, it’ll have to be at the scale of Hero. The cricket advertising space is definitely getting cluttered, so either you’re present there in a huge way or not present at all. At the same time, I feel this is a bigger loss for cricket than for Hero.” One of the motives could be to move towards other sports, as the dominance of cricket goes down in the current Indian sporting landscape. This move could also help the company stand its own ground against the clutter of other advertisers.

Focusing on other sports may also help the company attract a greater number of rural buyers. 46 per cent of its domestic sales were from the rural market during the last fiscal year. Sponsorship in other sports is also less expensive than the cricket.

There are mixed opinions about the new strategy adopted by HMCL. Some feel that the company should have tested the waters before making a leap into uncharted territory. Others feel that it may just be a way of expressing the changing Indian mindset. It remains to be seen as to whether targeting rural markets would help improve sales, but if this strategy succeeds, the company may just rewrite the complete history of Indian branding.

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