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Betting on sports

Betting on sports

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Nadia Kardame
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Betting on sports - July 25th, 2007

Betting on sports
Sports is being hailed as the latest differentiator in the advertising business. Media buying houses are busy opening separate divisions for sports marketing to grab a front-row seat

In the reams written on cricket, arguably the most controversial has been a syndicated column by former cricketer and star commentator Sunil Gavaskar. But last month, the column and the entrepreneur behind it made not the sports section, but the business pages. Communication agency Madison World, along with Selvel Outdoor Advertising, acquired a dominant stake in Professional Management Group (PMG), India’s first sports management agency set up by Gavaskar in 1985.

Sam Balsara, chairman and managing director, Madison WorldMadison’s chairman and managing director Sam Balsara has big plans— beyond syndicated columns and media content, he plans event sponsorships, custom sporting events and management of sports personalities.
The takeover of PMG came on the heels of another announcement from Percept D’Mark (India) Pvt. Ltd, which has been selling the business of cricket for a dozen years. In May, it started a separate division called PDM Sports to exclusively market cricket and other sports. Plans are under way to spin off PDM into a separate company.

Despite managing or marketing sports for years, several media firms, advertising agencies and public relations companies are starting new sports management divisions with separate identities. While there’s little agreement on the future of cricket sponsorship, everyone seems to agree that the overall sports market will only continue to grow and that it warrants separate treatment from other media properties.

“It’s the right time to invest in sports,” says PDM Sports chief operating officer (COO) Roland Landers. More global companies are entering the country, money is pouring into sports, and sports investments are offering strong returns, he says.

Khaneja, who represents cricketer Sehwag, says the new sports entities are only into marketing, not into managing sportsForeign-based sports management firms such as Havas Sports of France are also entering India, posing competition to local companies on their home turf. The new outlets say they do not feel threatened, but that sports marketing and management require specialization and an innovative approach.

“If you say these new divisions are being set up by the agencies because of the new entrants, it is not true,” says Prashant Singh, business head of Ogilvy Sports, itself a new outfit floated by advertising agency Ogilvy & Mather. He credited the tremendous growth in media across the board for making sports so lucrative.
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