Cricketers put managers in fix
Players' bad performance in World Cup has put the brand managers in a uniquely uncomfortable position.Updated: Apr 01, 2007, 18:28 IST
India's cricketers may have gone hiding after their dismal show in the ongoing World Cup but their business managers are a worried lot that long and continued bad performance can hurt endorsements.
"If the team continues to perform badly, in the long term it is going to be a problem. There will be an erosion of their brand values," 21st Century Media Managing Director Lokesh Sharma said.
Sharma, whose firm handles the account of Indian skipper Rahul Dravid, said the forgettable show by team India has put the business managers in a uniquely uncomfortable position.
"The World Cup being a long-drawn affair, viewers are constantly being reminded of India's poor performance by their absence. In the past, a bad performance is made to forget quickly with a good performance in another series, which is not happening now," he said.
He, however, reiterated that Dravid still holds his ground as far as brand equity is concerned. "People and his clients have accepted his performance. There has been no erosion of his brand value," he said.
Preeta Singh, CEO Percept D'Mark, which handles the accounts of Sourav Ganguly and Yuvraj Singh, predicted there would be a recalibration of cricketers' brand equity in the short-term.
"The short term is going to be a challenge as there will be a drop in investment in cricket after India's performance in the World Cup. Since value of players is linked to the eyeball, the poor performance of the players has resulted in the drop of viewership," she said, however, adding that in the long term cricket would continue to attract investments.
Singh said as a fallout of India's performance in the World Cup, contracts with players could now be more closely linked with performance and tenure may become shorter.
The managers are desperately waiting for India to undertake the Bangladesh tour in May after the World Cup, where they can hope to redeem some pride and players to recoup lost brand equity.
"If they win in Bangladesh, people in India will start watching cricket again," Sharma added. Some managers, however, believe that players should be valued on the basis of their performance against quality opposition.
"Performance is the first test and everyone should wait for the team to perform well. Ethically, the idea should be not to pitch in for new endorsements. Until India goes to England we should wait for their performance," Globosport Vice-President Marketing Anirban Das Blah said.
Blah, whose company manages the account of speedster Zaheer Khan, said at the moment there was not much a celebrity management company could do.
"I don't think any new discussion will happen in the next couple of months," he said, adding firms should not run after money at the cost of performance and create artificial hype.