Friday, June 11, 2010

Commonwealth Games yet to excite sports marketing firms

The Commonwealth Games (CWG) are only a few months away, but clients of sports marketing agencies do not appear to be queuing to get a slice of the advertising pie.

There are multiple opportunities in terms of sponsorship sales, sponsorship activation, ticketing, corporate hospitality, ceremonies, athlete management, advertising and communications, and new media. However, Hiren Pandit, managing partner of GroupM ESP, says, “None of our clients has shown any interest in the Games so far. Post-Games, there will be some sports celebrity projects, but not on a large scale.”

Indranil Blah, sports head, Kwan, concurs, “The Commonwealth Games have been surrounded by many controversies, including political interference and being over-budget. This has kept companies sitting on the fence.” Blah says his agency has received queries from a mobile handset manufacturer, a mobile operator and an FMCG company to gauge marketing opportunities during the Games. But nothing has been finalised yet. “Once the event draws nearer, companies may seal the deals,” says Blah.

The Games committee is targeting almost Rs 1,600 crore from brands participating in the Games alone. If it is able to exploit new media, like the recent deals by IPL with Youtube (Google), vRock and July Systems, it can expect business well in excess of Rs 2,000 crore, say analysts. Yet, only two companies have confirmed their association with the Games — Coca-Cola, which is the official beverage partner, and Hero Honda. The remaining comprise public sector units like the National Thermal Power Corporation, Air India, Indian Railways and Central Bank of India.

Agencies see more opportunities in corporate marketing accounts than sports celebrity management. “In India, only cricket celebrities sell. Recall, Abhinav Bindra- and Vijender Singh- endorsed marketing went off within six months of the signing,” points out Blah.

Moreover, while corporate marketing deals fetch an agency 10-15 per cent commission of the deal, celebrity management gives them only 5-10 per cent of the signing amount, which is not huge in case of non-cricket celebrities. Agencies also believe the Organising Committee (OC) has not been very active in marketing the Games as it was more occupied with infrastructure issues. A separate division dedicated to marketing opportunities would have helped, they reasoned. IPL, for instance, has a separate team to handle marketing deals.

Another reason is that the sponsor rates are considered exhorbitant considering the return on investment (RoI). The OC, for instance, has categorised sponsors as lead partners who will get sponsorship worth Rs 100 crore each, while partners would get Rs 50 crore worth of sponsorships each.

An executive of an agency, not wishing to be identified, argues, “If you compare the rates with IPL, IPL3 charged Rs 25 crore for ground sponsoring, which is way below the Commonwealth Games rates. Besides, IPL gives great value. In case of the Games, there’s no clarity on exposure it will give to the sponsors.” He adds that the management committee must re-package the deal to increase RoI and attract private companies.

In other countries, companies avail opportunities thrown by such events in large numbers. Rajesh Aggarwal, president, Dentsu India, says, “The recent experience at the Vancouver Games has clearly shown the potential of large format sports events to connect with the population of the host country.”

Noida police train SWAT team for Games security

To ensure foolproof security measures for the guests visiting Gautam Budh Nagar during the upcoming Commonwealth Games, the Noida police have decided to have a Special Weapons And Techniques (SWAT) team in addition to the team of commandos being trained for the October event.

The police chief of the district believes the SWAT team will strengthen the security arrangements during the Games.

Talking to Newsline, Ashok K Singh, Senior Superintendent of Police, Gautam Budh Nagar, said the SWAT team will be trained at the district police lines.

“We have shortlisted 25 candidates for the SWAT team. The training of those selected to be part of the elite team will be more rigorous than normal commando training,” SSP Singh added.

The police chief said training will be conducted with specialised and high-technology weapons, such as AK -47, Insas rifles, Glock pistols and bullet-proof shields to name a few.

“We are going through a list of the high-tech weapons available with the UP Police. For example, using of bullet shields is an art which has to be learnt through rigorous training,” added Singh.

The training of the selected SWAT commandos will be conducted under the guidance of the Aligarh police SWAT team. It is the only district in UP that has 20 well-trained SWAT commandos, Singh said.

“I had gone to Aligarh to check the level of training the SWAT team there had. I was impressed with their reaction time and use of high-tech weapons,” SSP Singh said.

“Considering the importance of providing adequate security to the international guests and the potential threat to the spectators and players, the team will prove worthy in training our SWAT team members,” the senior police officer said. The Noida police is already training 30 commandos, who are being guided by experts from Manesar training camps.

Regarding the difference between the SWAT and the commando team, SSP Singh said the SWAT team will get more high tech weapons for specialisation.

Traffic police to be at full strength before Games

The Delhi Traffic Police will reach their sanctioned strength of 5,500 personnel before the Commonwealth Games (CWG) slated for October this year.

"We would reach our sanctioned strength of 5,500 personnel before the CWG," Special Commissioner of Police (Traffic) Ajay Chadha said.

Currently the traffic police have only 4,417 personnel against its sanctioned strength.

According to Chadha, the help of local police would also be sought in maintaining smooth traffic flow on the dedicated CWG traffic lanes.

About 5,000 volunteers are also to be drafted to assist in maintaining smooth traffic during the Games.

Haryana ready with 7,300 hotel rooms for CWG

About 7,300 hotel rooms are ready in Haryana against its commitment of providing 6,700 hotel rooms for accomodation purposes during the coming Commonwealth Games.

''The Haryana government has delivered more than what was promised,'' said Gurgaon Deputy Commissioner Rajender Kataria, who is also Nodal Officer for Haryana districts falling in NCR region.

He said the number of hotel rooms in Haryana was likely to increase up to 7,500 by the time the games commenced.

As per a decision of the Central government, tax concession would be extended to those hotels, which would be ready by July 31. This concession would continue during the next five years.

The tax concession would be given only to one-starred to four-starred hotels.

Mr Kataria today held a meeting with the owners of hotels constructed or under construction in Gurgaon, Faridabad, Rewari and Sonepat districts of Haryana and enquired about the problems being faced by them in completing work related to Commonwealth Games. He ordered the officers concerned to redress on priority basis the problems of the hotel owners.

He said full cooperation was being extended to the hotel owners in completing all kinds of formalities without any hassle at the earliest. All the officers of the departments concerned had been directed to clear hotel related files immediately. If any owner of the hotel faced any difficulty, he could directly meet him.

Mandatory Dope Tests for Delhi

ALL Uganda teams for the 2010 Commonwealth Games will be subjected to mandatory drug tests and counselling
before they leave. The Games are due in October, in New Delhi, India.  Dr. James Sekajugo (pictured left), a member of the International Olympic Committee (IOC) and Commonwealth Games medical committee, disclosed this while briefing the national rugby 7s team at Imperial Royale Hotel in Kampala yesterday.

"You must know that these Games are recognised by the IOC and doping control is mandatory," Sekajugo stated. Sekajugo also added that athletes will also go for voluntary HIV tests. Sekajugo explained that all athletes will be monitored medically and also advised on nutrition for purposes of high performance at the Games. Local rugby union vice chairman Steven Ojambo commended Sekajugo for the lecture.

He promised a continued and cordial relationship with the Commonwealth medical team. "Our target is to qualify for the Olympics and that can be realised when we perform well at the Commonwealth Games," Ojambo observed. Rugby Sevens and golf were last year added to the list of disciplines to be competed for at the Olympic Games.

Traffic police to deploy over 1,000 volunteers during Games

Come Commonwealth Games (CWG) and the Delhi Traffic police will deploy more than 1,000 volunteers to maintain a smooth flow of traffic during Oct 3-14.

“We would be deploying around 1,000 volunteers on Delhi’s road during the Commonwealth Games,” Special commissioner of police (traffic) Ajay Chadha told reporters.

He said the volunteers will be provided an arm band, T-shirt, cap and certificate each. “They would also be deployed along the CWG dedicated lane,” he added.

Asked if the volunteers will be provided any special powers, Chadha said: “Only violation notices and chalan (fine) booklet would be issued to them.”

Delhi Metro’s citizen forum to have 1,000 members before Games

The Delhi Metro is planning to nearly double the number of its Citizen Forum members before the October Commonwealth Games in the city.

The forum sensitises Delhi Metro rail passengers about the need to behave courteously with fellow passengers besides emphasising on the importance of etiquette, discipline and cooperation.

They also inform Metro officials if an unidentified bag or suspicious commuters are found in the Metro. These members play a crucial role in helping thwart terror incidents in the Delhi Metro.

“There are around 400 members in the forum at present and we hope to raise the number to 1,000 before the Games. The new ones should be regular commuters,” a Delhi Metro Rail Corporation (DMRC) spokesperson told IANS.

The forum was set up in September, 2009 with 130 members.

The volunteers in the Citizens’ Forum are from all age and social groups like students, doctors, retired army officers, teachers, businessmen and senior citizens. They have been given badges to identify them and trained in various important aspects of Metro operations by the DMRC.

“It has been a great success so far. We are holding meetings every two months to discuss plans and preparations for the Commonwealth Games. Yesterday (Thursday) also the officials and forum members discussed plans for the Games,” the spokesperson said.

He said the next meeting will be held in August.

The members are asked to furnish a photograph, identity proof, besides filling up the forms for the purpose. They are in turn given direct contact numbers of senior Metro officials with whom they can get in touch in case of any incident.

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