The Indian auto industry may be going through a massive downturn. But that is not stopping some of the bigger players in the market to spend money to promote their brands in a big way.
On December 1, The Festival of Speed (FOS), is being held at the Buddh International Circuit in which over 40,000 spectators, including many top personalities and celebrities, will be present. And a number of companies like Triumph, Motul are lining up for the show.
The CEOWORLD magazine spoke with Sanjay Sharma, Head of JK Tyre Motorsport on the vision and execution of the Festival of Speed and how they get a city like Delhi that treats literally all sporting events with disdain excited.
The FOS will also see India’s first racing league being unveiled, which will see F1 racers and India’s top drivers, right from Narain Karthikeyan, Gaurav Gill and, the Maini Brothers competing for the first time.
- JK Tyre has been in motorsports for over 30 years now? What was your plan for taking this route?
Motorsport is probably the most potent platform to test tyres in real conditions. Our involvement in it has helped us in reaping a lot of benefits, allowing us to continuously update our products to offer the best possible tyres for their passenger or commercial vehicles. Thanks to its competitive nature, motorsports also inspired us to pioneer the technology used in producing high-performance tyres that are capable of running in treacherous conditions & at high speeds in racing and rallies.
More importantly, motorsports was a perfect brand for our company to showcase JK Tyre as a youthful brand while also talking safety. To put it simply, motorsport was a testing ground for our own products and the feedback from drivers and teams helped the company in continuously updating them, giving supplementary data to our R & D team to improve the products on a regular basis.
- How successful have you been in achieving your corporate goals by promoting motorsports?
Motorsport is driven by technology and is a combination of man and machine; they win or lose together. Similarly, as products, tyres are all about technology. An activity of development of tyres which two decades ago was a nine month process from conception of the product to hitting the market but today thanks to the involvement and learning from this treacherous activity as recent as couple of years back, a truck racing tyre which is considered in our product categories the ultimate test of technology was conceived and raised by JK in 40 days. It also gives us an image of a young adventurous brand because speed here is the glamour and adventure is demonstration.
- What were the advantages in opting for this, rather than going to direct marketing?
The primary advantage was that we were able to portray/ demonstrate the strength and quality of our tyres on all kinds of terrains and in the most demanding circumstances and direct marketing is just another branding exercise.
- Apart from helping the sport at the grassroots level, you have supported a number of drivers in their journey to the top level. How satisfying has this been, especially in terms of ROI?
A: An important part of our goal when we became involved with Motorsport was to develop the sport and support its sportsmen, and not just use it for product development. Today we are proud to state that 90% of Indians flying the national flag internationally are in one way or the other been a part of the JK Tyre development program. When the Indian National Anthem plays on an international podium, it is indeed a proud moment for us.
- What is the level of investment over the years? How has it grown in the recent past?
A: We have a standard benchmark but it varies year on year. With growth of business, about 20% of the total advertising budget is allocated for this activity and within that 50% is spent on infrastructure development and the balance 50% on practicing the sport. So it’s quite substantial.
- What is the philosophy behind the Festival of Speed? What kind of spends are you looking at?
FOS is a conglomerate of various verticals which have gained success in their own formats, starting from 150cc bikes to 1000 cc super bikes to a Indian Formula 4 to Internationally acclaimed X1 Formula cars, from Indian domestic champions to ex F1 drivers. We have stunt shows the kind of which India does not see. All this is a one of a kind experience and therefore the weekend is termed as JK Tyre Festival of Speed. On the sidelines, the JK Tyre CCI Parliamentarians Rally also concludes at the Festival of Speed. We promote road safety through this.
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