Last week, the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) announced that the Indian women’s cricket team and members of the men’s cricket team would receive the same match fee.
After this announcement, we reached out to experts to find out if this announcement will put pressure on brands to also increase their endorsement fees for cricketers.
Agnello Dias, Creative Consultant, Founder and Former Creative Head, Taproot Dentsu
Approval fees are driven by pure commerce. Even among the male players on the team, there is no tie as there is no correlation between what BCCI pays individuals and the value of the endorsement. Metrics are solely driven by fans and eyeballs. So no, I don’t see brand mentions following suit.
Anisha Iyer, CEO, OMD India
In order for brands to invest in higher sponsorship fees, promotional efforts to showcase women in sports need to see a massive upsurge. Our country needs to focus on better promoting women’s cricket and getting people to invest in it first. Lacking the same level of popularity as GEC stars or male cricketers, female cricketers will attract little attention. This needs to change, and we need to ask ourselves if we are doing enough as a country to give them the attention they need to stand on a level playing field.
While it is true that over the past few years we have witnessed a dynamic shift in the perspectives of brands and viewers, and that women in Indian sports are being brought to the forefront, there is still a lot of work to be done. when it comes to giving them the attention and appreciation they truly deserve.
We must play an active role in drawing attention to women in sport and recognizing their hard work and commitment. Only then will brands start to see the value of making higher recommendations that work to the benefit of female cricketers and women’s sport as a whole.
Chandramouli Nilakantan, CEO, TRA Research
While equal pay for men and women in a game is a matter of equality, good governance and a bit of optics, the sponsorship fees paid by brands are pure business. In the latter case, negotiations are difficult on both sides and therefore I do not see that the BCCI match fee will have an impact on the women’s cricket team endorsement fee. That said, the Indian women’s cricket team has performed very well and well deserves to get better endorsement fees for sure.
One thing the BCCI’s decision will have an impact is that all women’s teams playing in leagues in other sports will be under pressure to pay women’s teams to match similar fees as men’s teams.
Divya Karani, CEO, Media – South Asia, dentsu
BCCI’s decision signals more than just equal pay! It signals equality. Equal access, equal opportunities, equal rights and dignity. And a culture of equality creates endless ripples in our way of life.
Harish Bijoor, Brand Guru and Founder, Harish Bijoor Consults
Equal pay is a fundamental right for the women’s cricket team. In terms of brand endorsement funds, I don’t think it will have an impact. Brands and brand funds do not know political correctness. They will go where the eyeballs reside.
Jogesh Lulla, Chief Operating Officer, Cornerstone Sport
What BCCI has done is incredible! Hopefully this will have a chilling effect on all other sports as well.
Their endorsement fees, however, are decided based on the athlete’s category and popularity. In some categories, women are paid much more than men and vice versa, so it’s not a one-way street. The visibility and reach of sports for women is what will eventually lead to increased athlete popularity, impacting their endorsement fees.
Melroy D’souza, Chief Operating Officer, Professional Management Group (PMG)
No, I don’t think brands will be under pressure to increase sponsorship fees for female cricketers. BCCI has taken this good step as it is the governing body of cricket in India and by giving equal pay it recognizes that the efforts put in by male and female cricketers are equal.
However, brands are not obligated to do the same. As the popularity of male and female cricketers is different, brands will reward celebrities based on their popularity and not because the governing body does.
Although with the announcement of the Women’s IPL I think there will be more brands using female cricketers as brand endorsers as their popularity will increase as their exploits on the pitch become more visible.
Mohit Joshi, CEO, Havas Media Group India
The conversation around equal pay is topical and universal. In the world of sport, the change in BCCI policy appears as a historic turning point where female athletes not only receive their due, but also reflect a change in mentality where they are valued like their male counterparts. Marketers should recognize this opportunity to make female athletes into brands – in a sense, creating an ecosystem that goes beyond pay-token lip service.
Take, for example, the number of mentions, for brands and products across all industries, that we see among male cricketers – the names instantly come to mind! Now consider the brands and products endorsed by female cricketers – we need more time to think about that. This reflects the overlooked potential of women, not only as athletes, but also as influential brand ambassadors.
The industry is buzzing with change, and as an advertising conglomerate, we’ve made a meaningful difference by changing our policies and ecosystem to not only include more female professionals, but to create an environment where they can thrive. Likewise, we need to transform the way female athletes are viewed, giving them more visibility through increased endorsements which, in turn, will have a positive and organic role model effect on budding sports stars. We need to trust in the uplifting power of female representation in sport and tactfully harness it in marketing so that it becomes a win-win scenario for all.
Ramakrishnan R, Co-Founder and Director, Baseline Ventures
It’s good for sports. What you earn on the field is pure sweat reward. Men and women give the same effort and it is therefore a good initiative on the part of BCCI. However, one should not compare gains on and off the pitch.
This is a good populist measure by the BCCI. But it is a monopolistic decision unsupported by economic realities. Men’s cricket is several times larger than women’s cricket. The salary must be proportional to all income and not only a function of social equality – this is the economic reality.
Amendments are based on individual negotiation. Advertisers will pay for the hit their money gets from fame.
Sanjay Tripathy, Co-Founder and CEO, Agilio Labs
BCCI must aggressively increase the number of domestic and international matches for female players. Additionally, all matches played across age groups and levels should also be considered.
Their is still a huge differential on contracts. The BCCI had announced the annual player contracts of female cricketers in May this year. The pay categories looked like this:
Category A (Rs 50 lakh), Category B (Rs 30 lakh) and Category C (Rs 10 lakh). A month earlier, the Council had announced the contracts for male cricketers. In their case, there are four categories, instead of three, with players in the highest ‘A+’ category earning Rs 7 crore (excluding match fee). Other categories included ‘A’ (Rs 5 crore), ‘B’ (Rs 3 crore) and ‘C’ (Rs 1 crore).
Female tennis players are perhaps the only female athletes to earn as much as their male contemporaries. The four major Grand Slam tournaments – Australian, French, American and Wimbledon – men’s and women’s have won equal prize money since 2007.
Brand endorsement is a different ball game. It is different for every celebrity or cricketer based on the following three points:
Attractiveness of cricketer – The endorser must be attractive to the target audience in certain aspects such as physical appearance, intellectual abilities, athletic skills and lifestyle.
Credibility: defined here as the perceived expertise and reliability of cricketers
Brand reach and appeal: What is the reach and compatibility between the brand and the cricketing audience.
The reach and appeal of most female cricketers is sure to grow with higher exposure, number of matches and women’s IPL expected to start from 2023. So the approval figure by next year will certainly be double or more for successful and visible female cricketers. It may not happen immediately, but you will see the change within the next 6-12 months.
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