Indian companies are spending almost Rs 100 crore (Rs 1 billion) on cricketers from India as well as other countries for endorsing their brands as the countdown begins for the World Cup in South Africa in February 2003.
Experts said the money was almost three times what companies had spent on cricketers during the last World Cup in England in 1999.
Though the amount paid to each cricketer remains a closely guarded secret, industry sources said Sachin Tendulkar charged Rs 8-10 crore (Rs 80-100 million) for a three-year contract, while Sourav Ganguly's fees for an annual contract were around Rs 2 crore (Rs 20 billion). An annual contract with Sehwag could cost up to Rs 1 crore (Rs 10 million).
"These cricketers are easily earning around Rs 100 crore through these endorsements," Jagdeep Kapoor, managing director, Samsika Marketing Consultants, said. The money is at least thrice what we saw in the last World Cup, Percept IMC managing director Shailendra Singh said.
While LG has signed up all the 14 captains of the participating teams, Pepsi, apart from eight Indian players including Sachin Tendulkar and Saurav Ganguly, has roped in the West Indies' Carl Hooper, England's Nasser Hussain, South Africa's Jonty Rhodes and Australia's Shane Warne.
Seagrams has inked pacts with eight international cricketers including Wasim Akram, Jonty Rhodes and Marvan Atapattu. Sahara already has the entire team under its banner.
Sehwag has been recently roped in by Himalaya Drugs, Adidas and Mayur Suitings.
Many more are going to join the bandwagon soon. Even a company like South African Breweries, which does not believe in celebrity endorsements, is trying to rope in some cricketers as its brand ambassadors.
The new feature this time is that a large number of foreign cricketers have been roped in. Companies feel tying up with the international cricketers gives them an international positioning. Bikram Basu, marketing manager, Seagrams Manufacturing Ltd, said: "Tying up with international stars lends an international appeal to the campaign."
Experts say companies are making a beeline to the cricketers, thanks to the recent good performance of the Indian team at a time when Bollywood, the only other saleable brand in the country after cricket, is doing badly. Few films have done well on the box office and there is no superstar of the stature of, say, Amitabh Bachchan.Lokesh Sharma of 21st Century Media, who manages the accounts of Mohammad Kaif, Rahul Dravid, Parthiv Patel and Reetinder Sodhi, said, "The increase in the number of cricketers endorsing brands is directly linked to the popularity of the game. This establishes cricketers as icons with the potential of becoming brand ambassadors."