New cricket season shows no sign of recession

<img border='0' align='left' title=' ' src='' class='caption'> As the new season of the international cricket commences, the sponsors queue up for a price of the action. As always the question is where's the recession?

Updated: September 11, 2009 13:52 IST
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New Delhi:

As the new season of the international cricket commences, the sponsors queue up for a price of the action. But as always the question is where's the recession?

Various companies have lined up to have a piece of the cricket and cricketers to give a boost to their products. Birla Sun Life Insurance is the latest corporate to join the cricket sponsorship brigade. And soon, you will see Virender Sehwag, Yuvraj Singh, Rohit Sharma and Suresh Raina in their ads on your TV sets.

"We have four cricketers who have seen various days of their life. Early days, heady days and sometimes a miss. So we've got them in their true form, in their vulnerable self, where they talk about their true selves, not just about their successes but about their fear as well. That's what they tell us in these commercials," said Ajay Kakar, Chief Marketing Officer, Aditya Birla Group Financial Services.

But the deal didn't come cheap. At a reported 2.7 crore rupees a year for the foursome, this insurance brand will be hoping for much more than assuaging fears. It's a big year for Indian cricket, with series at home against Australia, Sri Lanka and South Africa. Then there is the Champions League T20. So it's cricket for India all the way until May.

So it is ensured that even in these recessionary times, there has been no impact on the demand for the cricketers. Advertising revenues are set to register a negative growth of 5 per cent. Advertising around cricket and cricketers has seen an increase of an amazing 60 per cent over last year pegged at about 1200 crore this year. Driven largely by the telecom sector, like 50 crore rupee man MS Dhoni's who makes about 40 of those from endorsement and 3 crore from Aircel alone.

"Telecom is still today in a very preliminary stage. There are 4-5 players coming in, in fact less properties and more players. As far as advertising is concerned, there are too many players and not enough properties and they all want to expand. So, they haven't stopped spending, and in fact because of competition, their advertising spends have gone up. So all big tickets are telecom," according to Shashi Sinha, CEO, Lodestar Universal.

It's exactly what IPL 3 hopes to cash in on. The broadcasters for the league are looking to hike advertising rates by 19 per cent, selling a 10 second spot for 4.75 lakhs. It's clear that India might be making waves in other sports too, but as far the bucks and the bulls are concerned, there's only direction they're running to.

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