Name of Publication Place of Publication Date of Publication
The Financial Express New Delhi Dec, 1,1997

Mint-O horses around, and Nestle isn't amused
Manjari Raman

If it's polo, it's Mint-O. On November 30 1997, Mint-O, the mint without a hole from Candico, sucked the maximum mileage possible from sport sponsorship, by lending its name to the Arena Polo International Challenge for the Chief Minister of Delhi Cup, between teams from India, England and Pakistan.

By sponsoring just one day of the six- day,  third Coca-Cola Indian Arena Championship, Mint-O has had a field day scoring against the competition, Nestle's Polo, through an aggressive print and radio campaign titled : "Mint-O sponsors Polo "

''it was the synergy between the sport, arena polo, and mint which prompted the sponsorship"

into competition's brand that prompted the sponsorship. Instead, it was the synergy between the sport - arena polo, which is as distinct from polo as one-day cricket is from a test match - and the mint. Arena polo is a livelier, faster and more spectator-friendly  sport than polo, and according to Khaneja, tastefully matched the  brand attributes of Mint-O - "an adult brand, which is cheeky and fun. "Adds Kant "We wanted to get involved in a sport where the cost of entry was low, which was unconventional and catching the public fancy." 
Tongue firmly in cheek. Candico first launched a series of salvos starting November 25 in the capital's leading dailies.  The Hindustan Times and The Times Of India.

The four- flavour attack was splashed generously on banners and hoardings across Delhi : 'Officially, the winning taste. Unofficially, the better mint' : 'Mint-O presents the most exciting form of polo yet' : '30th November'97. The day Mint- O sponsors polo and finally. 'Polo lovers hold your breath. ' Grins AK Khaneja, Senior Manager Brands and Relationships, Candico. "It's basically poking fun in a hole-some manner."

More horseplay followed on the radio. Ambience Advertising developed a 30 second spot on FM that spoofed Zee TV's Colgate Top Ten's leading anchors Pankaj Kapoor and Satish Kaushik who in turn, lampoon small town, north-Indian males, to popular effect.
      Once again, the message  through the peppermint patois : Mint-O sponsor polo. Says Pradeep Kant, Vice President, Ambience, "The film song countdown programme has very high rating in north India. Secondly, the two characters  in the  show have fundamentally the same brand value as Mint-o-they are fun and spunky. So it was a perfect match."

According to the Candico management, it wasn't just the lure of punching hole's

   Enter Adhiraj Singh, owner of Delhi based EquiSport, which brought arena polo to country three years ago. Laughs Singh, "The reason for sponsoring was not their love for arena polo but primary to stress that Mint-O sponsor polo." Interestingly, six months ago, Singh claims he informally proposed to Nestle to sponsor the arena polo championships for 1997. Says "I told them that  you have taken the name Polo, from the game, just like Volkswagen has borrowed it from its cars. But Nestle just didn't seem interested."
    To garner exactly how well the Rs 20 lakh Campaign minted brand recall, Candico will now be initiating a feed   back drive this week, which will cover customers, retailers and traders. But bucked by the initial response, Candico is seriously exploring lending its name to the sport on a regular and national basis - though the event was covered for two hours on DD, Candico restricted the campaign to the North. Equisport, for example, is also  considering   asking Candico to sponsor a league tournament spread over a few month in arena polo,instead of current week-long championship event.
        Pertinently, mint was not melting in Nestle's mouth last week. When contacted, the Nestle's stable cried neigh, and firmly declined to comment on a competitor's strategy as a matter of corporate policy. For now at least, first chukka of the second peppermint pun wars goes to Mint-O.