What is Hero Motocorp and Why Are They Sponsoring A Golf Tournament?

imageThe current sponsor of Tiger’s World Challenge Tournament is Hero Motocorp, an India-based motorcycle and scooter manufacturer. Tiger serves as their international brand ambassador.

Americans likely won’t be familiar with Hero, because as far as I can tell their bikes are not sold in the United States. Several articles said Hero was scheduled to begin US sales in 2016, but my online search has failed to turn up any dealers. (addendum: ads during the current tournament suggest it will launch in the US in 2018)

For the curious, here’s the short story of Hero:

Hero dates to 1956, when it was started as Hero Cycles by two brothers, Dr. Brijmohan Lall Munjal and Pawan Munja. By 1975, it was the largest bicycle manufacturer in India. In 1983, the company signed a joint agreement with Honda of Japan, becoming Hero-Honda. That agreement ended in 2010, and the Hero Group has subsequently purchased Honda’s shares.

Hero Motocorp is currently the largest motorcycle and scooter manufacturer in the world.

Association with Tiger Woods is not Hero MotoCorp’s first excursion into golf. The company has been the sponsor of the Indian Open Golf Tournament since 2005. It also sponsors field hockey and cricket tournaments.

I have wondered, though, why Hero, a motorbike company, would sponsor golf tournaments. The best I can think of is that golf may be an aspirational sport for its customers in India and other parts of Asia (southeast Asia). If so, the sponsorship strategy may be along the lines of “people aspire to play golf; people aspire to ride a Hero.”

Company marketers may also believe (correctly or incorrectly) that golf is their entree to a different sort of bike rider in the United States. I don’t think they’re going to sway Harley, Indian, or even Honda riders by trying to break into the recreational riding, motocross or biker gang markets. They might, however — especially with their scooters — find a more genteel and open audience.

The “We Ride” ads they’ve been running on the Hero World Challenge broadcasts put that theory to the lie, however. Those ads clearly are aimed at a more macho crowd.

I do hope they open outlets in the US. I have long wanted to buy a scooter for short trips around town. I like this one from their catalogue:

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