Anil Thakraney: No Sahara for hockey

19 Oct,2011

Must say I am quite confused why the Sahara Group would want to invest in Formula 1, an extremely niche, up market, Page 3 sport. Sahara, at least to my mind, has always had the image of being the aam aadmi’s organization, and their association with Indian cricket for all these years is par for course. And suddenly, out of the blue, they tie up with Mallya’s UB Group, and invest a whopping $100 million in the F1 team.

Yes, every corporate has the right to decide where it parks its monies. And I can understand Mallya’s interest in F1, not just as an extension of his own flamboyant, high profile personality, but because of all the booze brands he owns. However, in Sahara’s case, the F1 investment seems a bit out of character. Almost like a ‘wannabe’ decision, so to speak. How much value they’ll eventually get out of the association remains to be seen. And am not sure if Sahara will acquire the image they probably desire.

But the real pity is this: One sport that’s crying out for serious investment in India is hockey. Not only is it our national game, it’s a sport that connects with the masses. It may be dying because of little support from the corporate sector and the sports associations (the players have to demand meager prize monies when they win big tournaments!) but it’s still the aam aadmi sport. And this is where a company like Sahara ought to have shown interest. Not just for noble reasons, but also because they can own hockey, promote it, and make it their own. And capitalize on it once the popularity grows again. In any case hockey, in terms of branding, connects well with Sahara’s image. (By the way, I am aware the group has pitched in with prize monies on occasion for the hockey players but it’s not the same thing as owning the sport.)

The hard truth is this: US$100 million may have been invested. But F1 in India will always be perceived as a UB Group event.




PS: Must read. An open letter to Barkha Dutt by a blogger. Good points on why social media needs to be taken seriously.



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One response to “Anil Thakraney: No Sahara for hockey”

  1. Akshat says:

    For the same reason you would want to question another popular brand’s association.