Cycle Pure– the brand has established as much a connect with cricket in the past one decade, as it has been the synonymous to agarbathies – incense sticks – in India for seven decades now.
An association that started more by a default than design during the 2004 India-Pakistan series, is now travelling the international cricket destinations across the globe. In the past one decade, majority of the international venues to host the Indian cricket team have witnessed the presence of brand Cycle Pure Agarbathies. The bonding has grown so deep that stating ‘Cycle Pure spreads fragrance of Indian cricket’ will not be an exaggeration today.
At NR Group, the corporate name behind Cycle Pure Agarbathies, marketing philosophy also means benevolence, celebration and support.
Agarbathi to aerospace conglomerate NR Group recently drew attention with their Brand Lia’s ‘KHUSHBU JO VISHWAS JAGAYE’ campaign featuring Indian Women’s Cricket Team Captain Mithali Raj and India’s first female amputee mountaineer to conquer Mt. Everest Arunima Sinha.
The group through its charity supports the education of visually challenged girls, owns a team in the Karnataka Premier League, backs a cricket team and a number of national and international sporting stars. All this is part of social responsibility.
What about sports as an expansion of business of the NR Group? Arjun M. Ranga, Partner, NR Group, & Managing Director, Cycle Pure Agarbathies, is not averse to the idea. But, he shares candidly in an interview with insidesport.co that this is not in the company’s scheme of things, at least for now. He discusses about the NR Group’s sporting association and the outlook around the sporting industry. Here are the excerpts:
InsideSport: NR Group’s association with cricket has been there for over a decade now. Your presence is noticed at off shore venues during Indian cricket team’s tours. How will you describe this association and how has cricket and Cycle Pure Agarbathies helped each other over the period of time?
Arjun Ranga: Our brand was established in 1948 and we have been part of the country since 70 years of Independence. Over the time we realised that cricket is one activity when nations comes together and prays together. We wanted to be there in cricket as it unified the nation irrespective of language, race or background. Like cricket is common to everybody in a same manner prayer is also common to all. We believed we can establish a very strong connect through cricket. Our first sponsorship for cricket was during the India- Pakistan series in 2004 and that too by default. We were there because the main sponsor backed out a day before the series were to start. And now that association has been very fruitful for us.
IS: Your relationship goes beyond sponsorship in cricket, with you owning a franchisee in Karnataka Premier League and also your support for the Tiger Cup Cricket Tournament. Is there any chance the NR Group will be venturing into sports business anytime soon?
AR: No, not really. We are not looking for any opportunity as of now. It requires a lot of time and efforts to build a new venture. But we are committed towards the growth of sports culture in the country. With so many sports leagues currently active, the business of sports has a potential to grow but as I said we are not looking at it as an opportunity. Maybe one day we will.
IS: Brand Lia recently enrolled Mithali Raj and Arunima Sinha for their marketing campaigns. What we see here are two women who represent two different sports, one very popular and the other too adventurous. So, what was the propagation for the campaign?
AR: The idea was to build a campaign that truly represents our brand Lia. It is a modern product. As a brand it is youthful, exuberant and full of hope and energy, personifying all that is good and great about this country. We wanted to recognise the women achievers, who stood the test of time and fought against all the odds. Both our brand ambassadors depict greatness, dedication and hard work. But most importantly, ‘hope’, which is what our brand stands for.
IS: Your relationship with sports also goes beyond cricket. You are the sponsors for Pro Kabaddi team Jaipur Pink Panthers and you also support various players like Joshanna Chinappa and other tennis players. What is your take on this?
AR: Cricket is on the national level but others are all on the regional level. In the kabaddi league, we do sponsor Jaipur franchisee as Mr. Amitabhh Bachchan is our brand ambassdor and we have very good relations with him. Also, Rajasthan is an important market for us and kabaddi has mass affect. Other than this, all our support is philanthropic to Mysore local players. We believe that sportsperson build stronger nation and that is the reason we support them. And as an industry based in Mysore, we also feel that it is our responsibility to give back to the city.
IS: As we can see, with Vivo committing around Rs 2200 crore for IPL sponsorship and then Rs 300 crore for Kabaddi. Star buying the media rights for Rs 16347 crore, it looks that the sports sponsorship market is going to be an expensive proposition. As a brand, do you still see that there is enough value for money?
AR: We have been in cricket for around 10-12 years now and we will continue to support India cricket, if not in India then maybe overseas. We were the first ones who took the third umpire branding and now it has become a very successful product. I feel that investment around sports is always a marketing tactic that we will continue to do.
Apart from being major sponsors at various cricketing tournaments across the world every year, Cycle Pure Agarbathies also became widely popular for ‘Pray for India’ campaign during the 2011 World Cup.
The group is also dedicated towards organizing golf tournaments of national repute at regular intervals in and around Mysore. It offers aspiring sporting enthusiasts a platform to hone their skills as well as to witness and learn from established professionals. Today, Cycle Pure Agarbathies has become a pillar of support for sporting talent in the Karnataka region.