afaqs!

No endorsements for BCCI rule

By , agencyfaqs! | In Advertising | April 10, 2007
The BCCI, with its move to curtail endorsements by cricketers, has sent shock waves through the media and advertising industry. Its decision is being described as unjustified and irrational by many. In this report, agencyfaqs! gets media veterans to sketch the future graph of brand endorsements


It's been & #BANNER1 & # one day since the BCCI announced its move to curtail the number of endorsements by cricketers, following on from the abysmal performance of the Indian cricket team at the ICC World Cup, 2007. The rule, if passed, will break the trend of marathon endorsements by cricketers and reduce it to three per player. While it has caused the jaws of cricketers to drop, even the advertising fraternity is rolling its eyes. After all, out of the Rs 220 crore spent on sports stars, Rs 180 crore goes to the men in blue.

According to Anirban Das Blah, vice-president, Globosport, cricketer endorsements have a share of about 20-25 per cent of the overall advertising pie. BCCI's move will decrease this to 10-15 per cent over the next few years. He indicates that while it may appear that cricketers are the cynosure of all eyes, over the last three World Cups, there has been a shift from cricketer endorsements to endorsements by Bollywood and regional stars. "The huge emotional volatility associated with cricket", he says, is responsible for the shift.

With the cricketer granted just three endorsements by BCCI, only big advertisers will be able to lure him to sign on with them. "The creamy layer of advertisers (the top seven brands) in the country will not be affected, as they have the monies to snag any cricketer they want," says Harish Bijoor, CEO, Harish Bijoor Consults Inc.

He says that the big brands already have long-standing contracts with cricketers of their choice. Prashant Singh, business head, Ogilvy Sport, agrees with Bijoor: "Even if this rule comes into force, it will not have any serious effect on advertisers in the coming three to four years, because most of the contracts, almost 70 per cent of them, have just been renewed." He cites the example of Sourav Ganguly, who, after his exile, signed three new contracts spanning the next four years.

So, it is really the smaller brands that will suffer. "It is Emami, Boroline and Brylcreem which will have to bear the brunt, while biggies such as Pepsi, Reebok and Hutch will walk away relatively unscathed," Bijoor says. However, Singh points out that a positive outcome will be that that with this restriction, hitherto ignored cricketers will be more sought after.

These medium and small advertisers will scout for other alternatives such as entertainment industry celebrities and other sports celebrities and use them instead. "While Bollywood will remain a major attraction, Tamil, Telugu and Bhojpuri film celebrities will be considered by small brands," Blah predicts.

Singh of Ogilvy Sport doubts whether other sports will make better headway because of the BCCI move because advertisers are already cashing in on names such as Sania Mirza. "Though there is potential in other sports such as golf, tennis and football, these will have to become mainstream, because for an advertiser what matters are a sport and a sportsman with a following."

This doesn't, however, spell complete disappointment for cricketers. "Cricketers could also see their best interests and accept only multi-brand companies, so that they can shuffle within its portfolio with a secure bulk of cash flowing in," Bijoor says.

Jagdeep Kapoor, chairman and managing director, Samsika Marketing Consultants, makes the point that brands will benefit. "Seeing a cricketer in two or three ads as compared to watching him in 15 ads will lead to greater recall and less confused consumers," he says.

Could this in any way impact the following of the game in India? Bijoor thinks it is possible that the sport may suffer, contrary to BCCI's intentions. Dhoni, he says, is known for his cricketing image as well as an image outside of cricket, which is larger than life, created through the kind of ads he features in.

"There are people out there who come to watch Dhoni in a stadium subconsciously because of his king-size persona, which is as integral to him as the game itself. Less visibility in ads could even mean a lesser crowd at matches," he cautions.

Very few really support the restrictions or even think that the ban will sustain itself, as advertisers and cricketers' representatives, they are sure, will fight it out in court. But what really comes across is that the advertising industry certainly has the 'extras' to turn to in such a case.

2007 agencyfaqs!