‘Business part of IPL franchisees may be outsourced’
D. Murali and Kumar Shankar Roy
Chennai: We have seen liquor baron and Bangalore Royal Challengers’ franchisee owner Dr. Vijay Mallya unceremoniously sack Charu Sharma as the Chief Exceutive Officer a few days ago. While that may be for cricketing reasons, the business of teams involved in the Indian Premier League (IPL) is no less significant. Big teams funded by huge war chests of moolah need to be managed well to deliver returns on investment. Can the franchisees do it alone? One expert thinks, ‘No.’
“Since the IPL had to be turned around in record time and because egos were larger than budgets, huge captive teams were hurriedly put together. However, the franchisee owners are bound to realise that with the next IPL being so far away, they do not need monoliths to manage the event. The business of the franchise is going to be outsourced through specialists and organisations with their ear to the ground,” feels Ms Latika Khaneja, Director of celebrity management firm Collage Sports Management, New Delhi (www.collageindia.com). Trust this professional to know her business! She has managed master blaster Virender Sehwag and the newest pace sensation, Ishant Sharma. Business Line posed a few questions on the changing landscape of cricket as a business post-IPL. Read on…
Excerpts of the Q&A.
Do you think the role of celebrity-managers like you has been dented by the IPL with its franchisee model? After all, they have deep pockets and connections too. They could get sponsors and virtually drive you guys out of work!
With the cricket space experiencing huge upheavals and dynamic motion, the question was bound to arise about the role of celebrity managers and the paradigm shift in the industry as it has existed till now. How does IPL change and influence the business of cricket and what might be the possible opportunities and threats arising from the upping the ante on cricket? The question can be answered only by first understanding the macro business of ‘cricket marketing’ and the role of the celebrity manager.
Is it? So what’s this cricket marketing all about?
Cricket marketing has thrown open a sea of opportunity in the area of sponsorship marketing which manifests itself in a Formula One like situation as the number of sponsorships that can be stuck on all personal effects of a cricketer, and that can be encompassed in a television camera. This is further enhanced by opportunities to do on-ground marketing at all cricket venues with a bigger and better opportunity of multiple-viewership within a shorter time span.
As a marketeer is there some team in the Indian Premier League that has a right business model?
Yes. Shahrukh Khan’s Kolkata Knight Riders have blazed the path on the possibilities of this kind of maximisation of return-on-investment (ROI) and next year’s IPL is going to emulate his revenue model especially since the television ratings have confirmed the popularity of the format.
But the moot question remains. Ain’t you guys such as sports management companies facing a survival battle here? If Knight Riders plays well, sponsors naturally come to them. If not, they still have people to fund them and party…
See, it’s not like that, I will explain. Since the IPL had to be turned around in record time and because egos were larger than budgets, huge captive teams were hurriedly put together; however, the franchisee owners are bound to realise that with the next IPL being so far away, they do not need monoliths to manage the event. The business of the franchise is going to be outsourced through specialists and organisations with their ear to the ground.
For a sports marketing company this is a climb up in the value chain and will provide a more permanent proposition than management of stars. Marketing will turn local with smaller propositions like boxes and myriad opportunities for small businesses like restaurants and boutiques to get mileage out of the dream team being in their city for a two-month period. This would eventually help the greater cause by getting the locals to meet their team and reinforce emotional affinities.
So, sports agents still have a chance? What can you guys offer?
With the Board of Cricket Control in India (BCCI) omnipresent in all the larger deals related to cricket, sports agents have always existed in spite of the system rather than in tandem with it.
The strength of an agent is in the personalisation of marketing and the creation of a brand proposition around the persona of a cricketer. There is ample testimony that the public at large wants to watch great cricket; and Shane Warne, Adam Gilchrist, Sanath Jayasuriya and Glenn McGrath are the main draws of the matches and the media eye.
With so much of cricket, companies will soon see a value proposition in juxtaposing these stars with their brands. Using city affinity and the combination of players a mind-boggling array of permutations and combinations emerges from the IPL picture that begs to be woven into a unique selling proposition for a brand in a market suffering from the fatigue of seeing the same faces in every campaign.