The chase for budding cricketers is becoming tiring for sports management companies. With increased demands being made by the savvy slew of cricketers, traditional sports management companies are looking at more stable pastures - good old Bollywood celebs.
Firstly, signing a cricketer means getting embroiled in the big bad world of cricketing politics, and signing a young star implies paying a minimum guarantee fee depending on talent. What irks sports management companies is having to pay fees to the not-so-successful cricketers out of the commission earned from one rocking flagship cricketer present in their bouquet.
The alternative is simple and something that Percept D' Mark has been doing with its Celebrity Management Services for some time. However, it is now stepping on the gas by signing on Bollywood stars such as Mallika Sherawat, Kareena Kapoor and Ayesha Takia.
On the other hand, Globosport, traditionally associated with sports management, recently signed on nearly the entire team of the Bollywood hit Rang De Basanti. With Saif Ali Khan already in the bag, they have added Kunal Kapoor, Siddharth and Soha Ali Khan.
Sports marketing companies charge 10-15% commission from the players and most companies have one or two stars while the others make up the numbers. There are examples wherever you look: Collage Sports Management has Virendra Sehwag, Gautam Gambhir, Dinesh Karthik and Dinesh Mongia while Globosport has Sania Mirza, Rajyavardhan Singh Rathore and Zaheer Khan.
On the other hand, Percept D'Mark has Yuvraj Singh, Saurav Ganguly, Sreesanth and fast-bowling sensation from J&K Abid Nabi. The list is illustrative of how there are not more than one or two sports stars in each bouquet, with others on a conditional minimum-guarantee clause.
Meanwhile, the image of Bollywood celebrity management is definitely changing from the wheeling-dealing secretary who manages everything from directors to brand endorsement. “Bollywood stars need professional brand managers and corporates prefer dealing with us,” says Globosport V-P (marketing) Anirban Blah.
The fact that Bollywood stars don't ask for minimum guarantees also helps. While both Bollywood and cricket are unpredictable, the fortunes of Bollywood celebrities do not depend on just 11 slots. “Bollywood brands are realising the need to constantly evolve,” says Percept D' Mark V-P (marketing, celebrity management services) Rajiv Kumar.
The likes of Atul Kasbekar's Matrix are managing to brand and market John Abraham way above his box-office appeal, and the likes of Percept and Globosport are pitching the same line. The likes of Collage Sports Management are constantly looking at other sports as well, especially shooting.
Latika Khaneja also manages the Amjad Ali Khan family that means an extremely niche branding exercise. “I don't have that kind of reach in Mumbai, but I keep looking at other avenues,” says Khaneja. Gameplan, on the other hand, is looking at producing a Bengali film that stars Raima Sen amongst others.