Poor performance, packaged IPL, hit cricketers

<img border='0' align='left' title=' ' src='http://www.ndtv.com/convergence/images/thumbnail/ver1/y/yuvraj09.jpg' class='caption'> A streak of poor performances in the last few months has hit Indian cricketers' image hard as the brand ambassadors.

Updated: November 18, 2009 10:34 IST
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New Delhi:

A streak of poor performances in the last few months has hit Indian cricketers' image hard as brand ambassadors, with their rates falling between 25 and 50 per cent, according to a report.

According to a Business Standard report, the drop in the rates is due to the fact that the advertisers are reluctant to sign new deals with the cricketers.

Sports management companies agree that cricketers are losing their attraction for advertisers and in the coming years cricket endorsements will decrease considerably.

"A player is hot for a season but all it takes is two non-performing series and the negative baggage comes along. I reckon that by 2012, cricket endorsement in India will come down to 5 to 7 per cent of the total endorsements, from the current 20 to 25 per cent," said Anirban Das Blah, managing director, KWAN, a sports management company.

While cricketers are losing value, cricket certainly is not feeling the heat. And if companies are to be believed, it's the Indian Premier League (IPL) Twenty20 tournament that has turned the endorsement business upside down.

"Sponsoring an IPL team will cost you Rs 3 crore to Rs 4 crore and that means you get all the members of the team to endorse your product as part of the contract (though they have to wear the team gear and at least three of them have to be together in the advertisement). That is much cheaper than endorsing just one player," said a senior executive of a leading soft drinks manufacturer.

This has made it difficult for sports management companies to get new endorsement contracts for their players.

"IPL has taken away the high-reach platform. If a cricketer endorses a particular brand category (say Bharti) and it is part of a city team that in turn has signed with a competing category brand (say Vodafone), well, then the brand he is endorsing is in a fix. During the IPL matches, Bharti cannot leverage its endorsement," said Latika Khaneja, CEO of sports management company Sports Collage.

That is because the brand loses its exclusivity over the player since the team sponsor can also use him for its own advertising. So, while Yuvraj Singh and Virendra Sehwag endorse Pepsi products, they had to wear the Coke logo who was the team sponsor of Punjab and Delhi, for which the two play respectively.

The only major cricketer to have signed on for a new brand in the last six months is Yuvraj Singh, according to the industry sources. He is believed to have signed an advertising deal for an energy pill for just Rs 1.5 crore, almost half of what he commanded a year ago.

However, Sachin Tendulkar and MS Dhoni are unperturbed by the cut down and still command a premium. While Tendulkar takes Rs 4.5 crore for a deal, Dhoni charges Rs 3.5 crore. The likes of Rohit Sharma and Gautam Gambhir haven't signed individual deals in the last few months.

Also, with cricketers playing virtually throughout the year, non-availability is becoming another issue.

"A cricketer has to spare five to eight days for a brand endorsement. If he signs for 10 brands, that's 50 to 80 days. Who has the time with so many back-to-back tournaments? As a result, cricketers are quoting a high price but companies are not renewing contracts," says Sonu Lakhwani, VP, Percept Talent Management.

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