Bollywood is giving the Men in Blue a flurry of bouncers. And the sad articulation of this can be gauged from the debated price tag of cricket god, Sachin. The man who last signed on World Tel for Rs 100 crore may have to settle for a lot lesser when his term ends this year.
Sources say Sachin's endorsement fee has crashed from an average of Rs 4 crore per deal to Rs 2.5 crore. Indian cricket is in a mess and the absence of any buzz around cricketers may be one reason behind all this. But the other reason is the unprecedented run that Bollywood has had this year. The film industry has churned out 12 hits at the box office throwing up a fresh crop of endorsers from Bollywood.
John Abraham, Saif Ali Khan, Zayed Khan, Shahid Kapoor and even Malika Sherawat are already being preferred to Yuvraj Singh, Virender Sehwag and Mohammad Kaif. Even the halo around Sachin is fading. The rise of film stars on the marketers' popularity charts can be seen by the number of endorsement deals they have signed in the past few months.
The largest advertiser, HLL, has signed eight new film stars this year for brands which includes Lux. Two more are expected to join in. Samsung, known for using cricketers for its products, has now roped in John Abraham for mobile phones.
Shah Rukh's AirTel deal has been extended for another year just as Salman's contract with Red Tape shoes. Even the not-so-young Sanjay Dutt has signed a Rs 5 crore deal for endorsing a television channel. Innova recently signed on Aamir Khan as its brand ambassador. Hyundai's looking at Sania Mirza for Getz. While filmdom is troubling cricketers with its reverse swings, new sports stars are also adding to their discomfort.
All this may bring down cricket stars from their commanding position and they may have to compromise in the emerging scenario. Gone are the days when sports stars settled for a hefty fixed-amount in long term deals, says an industry watcher. “They will now be offered a smaller fixed component and other potential revenue generating options,” adds a senior executive in a celebrity management firm.
Adds another, “Endorsement fees of cricketers will not be the same again even if their fortunes move northwards.” But there are those who believe that cricket is a religion in India and the position is unlikely to change. “While it may not be a good idea to use a cricket star on the day the team loses, the sport still symbolises the aspirations of a vast majority of Indians,” says Subhinder Singh Prem, MD, Reebok India.
The drop in Sachin's endorsement fee is being attributed to the star's almost year-long absence from the cricket field. “The guy needs to announce his fitness with a good knock and he'd move up the charts again,” says a marketing company which has been using cricket stars for long.