They might have beaten their fancied Indian counterparts and unexpectedly took their team to the second round of the ICC World Cup, but most individual Bangladeshi cricketers have a long way to go before they land lucrative endorsement deals.
To achieve that status, the team will have to defeat India once more in next month’s Test and one-day international series, says Samrat Dasgupta, general manager of Grey Advertising Bangladesh Ltd.
While some enquiries have come to the Bangladesh cricket board for co-sponsorship of the national team following their five-wicket win over India, for individual deals to emerge, the performance has to be repeated. “It all depends on the India tour,” Dasgupta said in a telephone interview from Dhaka. “There is a lot of interest in some players, there’s a general feeling of excitement, but it’s a wait-and-watch situation right now.”
Some members of the Bangladesh team do endorse products. Last year, Reebok India signed three of Bangladesh’s leading players—Mohammad Ashraful, Habibul Bashar and Shariar Nafiz—for an undisclosed amount. The three-year agreement, which Bashar later described as “lucrative”, is still the biggest for Bangladeshi players. One of Grey Bangladesh’s clients, the Brac Bank, has team coach Dav Whatmore, an Australian, as its brand ambassador. But apart from these two deals, there is no significant individual contract in Bangladesh cricket.
The team as a unit, on the other hand, is already becoming a brand, a cricket board official said. Last November, the board awarded live coverage rights for all matches in Bangladesh until 2012 to the Singapore-based Nimbus Sports International for Rs239.4 crore ($57 million), a record.
The official sponsor of Bangladesh team is GrameenPhone—the largest mobile phone operator in the country for approximately Bangladeshi taka three crore (approx Rs1.8 crore) in a two-year deal. The firm has backed the team for several years, but there could be others now interested.
For instance, said Azizul Kabir, who manages the board’s official website, Apollo Hospitals Dhaka has made enquiries regarding possible co-sponsorship. “It’s early days yet,” Kabir said.
Meanwhile, Pepsico India will be launching the TV campaign for the sports drink Gatorade in May, but it will not be around the Indian cricket team’s tour to Bangladesh. M.K. Machaiah of Group M, the media buyer company that handles PepsiCo’s account in India, said, “The May launch for Gatorade is just a coincidence.”