United Breweries Ltd today announced the 6th edition of the most awaited horse racing extravaganza of the year – The Kingfisher Ultra Indian Derby 2021. The equestrian racing event is set to take place on March 28th, 2021. Owing to the restrictions imposed on events towards the congregation of people, this edition of the Ultra Indian Derby will be a closed-door affair, with no ticketing for the general public. The event however will be available for all via live streaming on SEA based Sports Tech business, 1 Play Sport’s Facebook and YouTube handles and further amplified across digital platforms.
RWITC have undertaken stringent measures to ensure all required safety precautions are followed at the venue. A very limited number of people largely involved in organising and providing coverage to the event are being allowed into the venue, at this edition of the event. Strict social distancing measures will be maintained to ensure that the Kingfisher Ultra Indian Derby is conducted in a very safe environment.
Speaking on the occasion, Gurpreet Singh, Head Marketing, United Breweries Limited said, “The Kingfisher Ultra Indian Derby is the most prestigious equestrian racing events of the year. In a normal year we would have had a packed house with sports, racing and fashionista aficionados coming together in large numbers and showing their unending support to witness the majestic event in full fanfare, including entertainment that would have kept everyone engaged late into the night. This year the teams are working together to ensure a safe environment for those conducting and covering the event so that we are able to bring to our patrons an immersive racing experience via 1 Play Sport’s Facebook and YouTube handles.”
In an exclusive chat with Medianews4u at the event, Gurpreet Singh, Head Marketing, United Breweries Limited, spoke about Kingfisher Ultra’s association with the Derby, the marketing initiatives for 2021.
The Derby 2021?
We are elated, satisfied that we are doing this, we weren’t sure a couple of months ago what one can do and can’t do. It would have been easy as a sponsor to say let’s not do it this year and save the money but we have come to an understanding with RWITC with overall lower cost let us all bring this together let’s not take a break; notwithstanding the pandemic the devastation that has caused to everybody, in general to sporting events in particular it was important for us also to be seen that we are able to, with the help of the government support, with the sponsors support, conduct sporting events while enforcing all these norms. We don’t have to shut down everything. It was important for RWITC to also show that we have partnered with them in a way which is collaborative, symbiotic and we are conducting the races this weekend, following all the norms and yet bringing the racing excitement to the community to the patrons through a digital format which I think is quite exciting and engaging.
We tried this with the Bangalore Derby and as sponsors and we saw what online can do and actually spoil you. A simple example, I used to love going for cricket games at the stadium and as youngsters we didn’t mind a heat and a crowd and pushing and elbowing and we got to our stand and enjoy and I still do it but what cricket telecasts has done on TV in a manner which has easily spoilt the audience. You can watch it from the comfort of your house with so much else going around the telecast with analysis, the technology, that is used to showwhat’s going on it just makes the viewer very excited and I think the Derby and horse racing has taken the step in the right direction I truly believe that going forward this will continue to become a hybrid model.
2021 is seeing lot of sports activity coming back on ground. As a major sponsor your thoughts?
I think all the stakeholders, the government, the people who conduct sporting events and the sponsors who are involved have come to the realisation that while the pandemic is on we are expecting people to stay indoors a lot more but for us to do that we need to give them some entertainment of the live sporting format and the appointment viewing format to keep them hooked to their TV screens and stay home. Otherwise the tendency is there to flout some rules and step out when you are not supposed to and it’s undesirable. The fact that they have managed to do this experiment with cricket and many other sporting activities I think it’s a very positive step towards the right direction and if you see that even in the stadiums, they have experimented with some crowd and sometimes with no spectators.
The fact that the sporting events are taking place and it is keeping large number of people engaged sitting in their houses you actually help the community and if the racing community can do the same where the people who are conducting the race can keep themselves completely safe and do this on the regular basis. The patrons don’t need to come out and actually watch it on digital. I am not particularly saying that I am a proponent of people should sit at home and watch, but in these testing times we need to do it. I think the opportunity will be there tomorrow to be present physically or the option of watching it from the comforts of your homes.
What would be Kingfishers marketing initiative for the Derby?
For this Derby race day because we are engaging digitally, all our pre promotions are also happening in a digital format and on the race day we have put together a panel of well-educated, well versed racing enthusiasts who know the world of racing so that they can bring in the analysis, pre-race as well as during and post-race in a very engaging manner to keep the viewer’s entertained and excited. Of Couse it can’t replace entirely the physical presence and enjoying the races but I think they will do the best they can in these circumstances.
Other than tying up with an esport agency for your telecast of the Derby have you reached out to any TV channel for the telecast?
In this particular event we have not tied up with the television channels. I think TV channels also need to see the opportunity of what racing as a community can deliver to them where there are large numbers of people are involved, eventually the telecast will bring in the large numbers and sponsors as well. I am hoping that the TV channels will see logic in this and come forth like they cover cricket, football, hockey and so many other sports they will start covering racing as well and not pass on the entire cost to either the RWITC or the Bangalore turf club whoever it might be or to the sponsors, because that’s not the case with the technology-driven company to see it as an opportunity to invest, grow their community and eventually it will benefit our self.
Did you think of approaching any popular OTT platform?
In this particular case since we had tied up with the digital platform we didn’t and couldn’t reach out but the TV channel could have been non-competitive unfortunately this year we couldn’t have one yes but that is something we should try to do.
Your Focus for 2021?
The start of 2020 was very difficult for us, as our businesses are in the space of beverages of alcoholic and non-alcoholic. The alcohol business was completely shut down for the first quarter, in the second quarter in a calibrated manner and it started opening up. The summer season is very important for beverage companies so… you can imagine how much it might have affected us. Our Quater1&2 results were not very good, Quarter 3 there was a little bit of rebound and hoping for a good quarter 4 results. But we are how do I put this… we are optimistic but we are also cautious and with that cautious optimistic approach we are going into the next financial year 2021-2022, we will be careful on how we will spend our money, and we will spend our money where we think it has the best return for the buck.
Reality is advertising etc. plays a bigger role there, sponsorship takes a bit of a backseat but with certain associations like the Derby which is now a 30 year old association. This association has seen a growth for such a long time and we didn’t want to just completely let go. Also the IPL is around the corner we sponsor 5 teams and we will be continuing with that association.