The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Caught & bowled: Fab Four fuel Hero Honda Ambition

New Delhi, Oct. 8: Hero Honda has snagged the brat pack — Virender Sehwag, Mohammad Kaif, Yuvraj Singh and Zaheer Khan. The two-wheeler maker, an official sponsor of the World Cup tournament to be played in South Africa in February, has brought the young and exciting cricketers of the Indian team on board as brand ambassadors.

The Fab Four — along with team captain Sourav Ganguly — will feature in the ads for its latest motorcycle model: the Ambition. Hero Honda is extremely cagey about saying how much they had to fork out to bring the top cricketers to feature in the ads.

Atul Sobti, senior vice-president, marketing and sales declined to say how much they planned to invest in the ad campaign. “It will give a lot of leverage to the new product Ambition by giving the image of a powerful and efficient motorcycle. The powerfu-e-l bike will be well represented by the leadership qualities, power and the capacity to face any challenges,” he added.

The current ad for Ambition is pretty tame; it shows an important file reaching a destination in time because of the power of the motorcycle. “It does not properly appeal to the customers about the power and efficiency of the product. ‘Team Ambition’ will be much better suited to represent the product,” sources said.

Hero Honda is hoping to crank up sales of Ambition because of the endorsements by the top cricketers during the World Cup when cricket fever will be at its highest.

One major advantage is that none of its rivals will be able to use cricketers to endorse their products before and after the World Cup because of the ambush marketing clause that the International Cricket Council (ICC) has worked into the players contracts.

The issue had sparked a row when it was raised just before the ICC champions trophy in Sri Lanka in September but was resolved after a stand-off between ICC, the cricket boards of several nations and the players.

Hero Honda plans to increase its market-share to 50 per cent this fiscal and is targeting sales of 10,000 Ambitions a month. Its share dipped from 48 per cent to 45 per cent.

The 133 cc Ambition generates 11 bhp of thrust, which has been kept low in order to improve fuel efficiency. It has been placed in between the 125cc and 150cc motorcycle categories to draw the maximum clientele. The bike accelerates from 0-60 kmph in only six seconds.

While launching the new campaign with the cricketers, Hero Honda is also drawing up plans for a couple of ads with the other brand ambassador, Hrithik Roshan.

Hero Honda’s association with cricket goes back to 1993, when it sponsored the Hero Cup. It was the official sponsor of the recent ICC Champions Trophy in Sri Lanka and will have the same status for the ICC World Cup in 2003.

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