Exclusive: Dr Munjal on his role in changing the future of sport through sponsorship

Dr Munjal has partnered with the Dubai Desert Classic to signal a new dawn for one of the UAE's marquee sporting events


Leslie Wilson Jr

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Dr. Pawan Munjal with Rory McIlroy. — Supplied photo
Dr. Pawan Munjal with Rory McIlroy. — Supplied photo

Published: Sun 29 Jan 2023, 8:22 PM

Dr. Pawan Munjal confesses to being a big fan of sport due the impact it has had on promoting a healthy lifestyle and its attractiveness for future generations.

The CEO and driving force of Hero Motocorp, one of the world’s largest two-wheeler manufacturers based in Delhi, India, is a man on a mission.

As part of a larger plan to grow Hero’s sponsorship portfolio around his affinity for golf, Dr Munjal has partnered with the Dubai Desert Classic to signal a new dawn for one of the UAE’s marquee sporting events.

During an interview with Khaleej Times, Dr Munjal discussed sustainability, further sponsorship opportunities and the overall evolution of sport’s brave new world.

Q. Can we ask you to tell us about how you reached your sponsorship of the Hero Dubai Desert Classic and what has the partnership been like so far?

A. Hero has been engaged with sports, including golf, for more than two decades, and has seen the footprint expand to Middle East, Europe and the United States. Hero and the DP World Tour (formerly the European Tour) have been collaborative partners in this journey for the long-term – Hero and DP World came together for the Hero Indian Open in 2005 and the relationship has grown and strengthened with each passing year.

The two latest events – the Hero Cup and the Hero Dubai Desert Classic – are an extension of our engagement. We are delighted to be associated with this iconic event, which has been a flagship event in the Middle East and part of the Desert Swing.

The Hero Dubai Desert Classic has a rich legacy and its history goes back to the times of the origin of Hero itself. The Middle-East is also an important location for us in terms of business operations and the presence of a large Indian diaspora. So, it is almost natural for us to be here.

Q. What led you to choose this partnership in particular, what makes the Dubai Desert Classic attractive to Hero MotoCorp?

A. The Dubai Desert Classic is an iconic tournament and brings with it a rich legacy. Hero MotoCorp has rapidly grown into a global brand with a footprint in more than 43 countries across multiple continents including Asia, Africa, Latin America and Middle East. Moreover, this region holds a special place in my heart, as I unveiled VIDA, Powered by Hero – our new emerging mobility brand in Dubai in March 2022. Our association with the DP World Tour and this tournament therefore, is a partnership that we value immensely.

Q. What parallels can be drawn between your sponsorship of cricket, football, and golf?

A. Hero MotoCorp has been one of the largest corporate promoters of multiple disciplines of sports – including golf, field hockey, football and cricket – and sportspersons around the world for decades. For the past seven years, we have also been a major participant in global motorsports with our Hero MotoSports Team Rally. As we speak here, the FIH men’s World Cup field hockey is ongoing in India and Hero MotoCorp is the leading Global Partner of the world body. Our associations are aimed at promoting the spirit of fair play and sporting ethos. We also continue to drive innovation in sports to attract new audiences.

Q. Now that Hero MotoCorp sponsors three heavyweight golf events, the Dubai Desert Classic, British Open and British Masters included, what new fields or opportunities do you see as the growth potential of your sponsorship portfolio?

A. As we discussed, our association with marquee sports, especially golf, has continued to grow over the decades and we have evolved our partnerships with the changing scenarios. As golf grows in terms of formats, players, venues, and fan base, we will see the emergence of newer channels to interact and engage with the sport. For instance, from primarily on ground activations, we now have an equal or higher number of activities being done on the digital channels. This presents us with exciting opportunities to reach a much wider and more diverse set of stakeholders. Similarly, our innovative events like Hero Challenge, Hero Shot and the recently concluded Hero Cup are all examples of our efforts to take the game, and our association with it, to the future. Our vision will continue to be the promotion of sports and sportspersons, only the tools and formats may evolve. We are already bringing innovative properties to the sport and will continue this endeavour.

Q. Is environmental sustainability something that moves you?

A. I am truly delighted to see the focus on Sustainability at the Hero Dubai Desert Classic. I am personally committed to Sustainability and this is also a top priority area at Hero MotoCorp. We are all responsible for the only planet we have, as individuals, corporates, societies and nations. At Hero, Sustainability is at the heart of everything we do and it is encouraging to see that there is increased consciousness and action across the world in this direction. At Hero, we are aiming to be 100% Carbon Neutral by 2030, and have 100% Waste Neutral and 500% Water Positive facilities by 2030.

Q. The focus of automobile manufacturing is based on technology and where speed of execution is vitally important. Do you see any similarities in golf?

A. Innovation is at the core of everything that we do at Hero MotoCorp and we have extended this spirit of innovation to Golf as well. Hero MotoCorp’s vision is “Be the Future of Mobility” and just like in business, we are poised to drive the sport towards the future too. We had the One-Hole-Knockout Hero Challenge on the DP World Tour and the Hero Shot at the Hero World Challenge. These are examples of innovations that have become very popular among players and spectators alike. The Hero Challenge, in particular, has drawn in more youngsters to the game.

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