NDTV, Malaysia Tourism board look to capitalise on F1 fever

MUMBAI: Malaysia - Truly Asia! With Narain Kartikeyan joining the Formula One team of Jordan, F1 fever is on a gradual rise in India.

In order to capitalise on the excitement and lure Indians to Malaysia, the Malaysia Tourism Board has announced a tie up with news broadcaster NDTV. One of the races takes place in Sepang Malaysia from 18-20 March 2005.



NDTV is all geared up for a heavy promotion across its three channels (NDTV 24x7, NDTV Profit and NDTV India) from 28 February. Speaking to, at a corporate do on 22 February, NDTV CEO Raj Nayak said, " We will be conducting a Speed to Sepang Contest. Viewers get the chance to win an all expense stay in Malaysia to see the race . Advertisers are already showing interest in F1 and the sport will grow in popularity faster than people think. Till now it has been all cricket.

"However with Kartikeyan and Sania Mirza in tennis doing well sponsorship money will go to these sports. Of course a lot will also depend on how these two fare as the year goes on."



Nayak added that in 1997-98 when he was selling ESPN Star Sports, Kingfisher sponsored a F1 car. "They must be kicking themselves that they did not continue with the sponsorship. There is a need for corporates to encourage sports other than cricket. We at NDTV will put our best foot forward. In the promos you will see shots of Kartikeyan as well as what facilities Malaysia has to offer. While we would love to use Kartikeyan as a promotional tool he is very busy travelling. We might also tie up with Fosters for cross branding in pubs and restaurants."



Malaysia Tourism Board representative Manoharan pointed out that Malaysia is a tourists' paradise. " In 2003 we had used Celina Jaitley and got a 1000 visitors from India. Last year because of the elections in India the number of people travelling to Malaysia came down. This year we are targetting at least 2000 visitors from India for the race. If we reach 5000 we will be over the moon. Overall we are looking at 120,000 visitors. In 1999 when we started we got 80,000 visitors.

"We chose NDTV because of its reach and the fact that people that can afford to spend watch the channel. I am sure that Indians will cheer Kartikeyan on and if given a chance they would visit our country. It is cheaper than Europe and also the plane ticket cost is cheaper than some domestic flights in India. Hopefully we will be able to get Celina again though I understand that she is busy making films. If we cannot get her then we will look at roping in another Bollywood star."

The Sepang International Circuit (SIC) organises and promotes the 2005 Formula One Petronas Malaysian Grand Prix. Manoharan added that in India the board promotes its customised packages among corporate sponsors. This marks a change in strategy from a few years ago when their promotions revolved around creating awareness about the country and what it offered. The board has initiated dialogue with 60 sponsors. Emailers are one important promotional tool for the board. The board has also in the past used channels like CNN for a cross regional promotion. Print insertions will also appear in select Indian publications urging people to visit the country.

"For Formula One attendees there will also be a Gala dinner. We expect several thousand attendees. The proceeds will go towards helping the victims of the Tsunami natural disaster."

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