The coronavirus pandemic has brought sport to a standstill and in this lockdown, The Bridge has been conducting webinars with prominent stakeholders of the sports industry in India.
In our latest interactive webinar session, Rahul Trehan, Vice President of IOS Sports & Entertainment, shared his thoughts on the various aspects of athlete management.
Trehan revealed how it is the women athletes who have been getting more endorsements than the men over the last two years. When asked if it was easier to convince brands when it’s a male athlete rather than a female one, he replied, “Nowadays, it’s actually easier to get a brand for a female athlete. In fact, this has been the case for the last two years. We have seen Hima Das, Mary Kom, Manika Batra and Mirabai Chanu signing more deals than their male counterparts.
“Mary Kom is a prime example. From 2018 till now, we have signed some major deals for Mary which includes global deals like Bridgestone, Puma, Nestle and then, Maruti, HP Printers and some regional brands including Ankit TMT etc.”
— Rahul Trehan 🇮🇳 (@imrahultrehan) September 4, 2019
Trehan explained while it’s easier to get brands for the popular athletes, they have managed to get a number of deals with lesser-known athletes like boxers Simranjit Kaur and Lovlina Borgohain.
“For Simranjit Kaur also, we did deals with two global brands — Adidas and Haier, Lovlina Borgohain with Adidas. Simran’s story is quite an inspiration… she lost her father 3 years back and now she is the only earning member of the family. When her father was alive, family income was only Rs 100 a day….so when we pitched brands they were really impressed with her,” he said.
Trehan spoke about how the company’s helped Hima Das get an endorsement with global sports apparel brand Adidas. “We signed Hima back in July 2018, just before Asian Games. At that time, I was meeting her almost every day and talking to her, trying to get to know her. Of course, there were many stories in the media already but I wanted to know the real her. That is when I found out something very interesting.
“Hima’s first running spikes were bought locally, at some 700-800 rupees. However, Hima had always been attracted to big brands, she loved them. She had written Adidas with a pen on her first shoes. It struck me and after the Asiad, when she came back to India, we prepared a proposal. There were other sports apparel brands who wanted to sign her, but everything worked out with Adidas in the end.”
He further discussed in length the nitty-gritties of athlete management, how you have to cater to an athlete’s every need and not only helping them get endorsements. Indeed, for every athlete the requirements are different, but at the end of the day, it all really comes down to helping them with whatever they need.
Since the outbreak of Covid-19, however, the situation has changed vastly. Athletes, who are used to training extensively round the year, have been forced to stay at home. Brands are not approaching as much as they would in normal times but Trehan believes the situation will get better. He explained how the brands have shifted to digital influencer marketing. IOS has worked out deals with Cult.fit, Tata Tea, Poker brand and Tiktok for a few of their athletes.
They have also been actively closing some webinars for brands as a motivational session with their athletes. “Queries are more now for digital campaigns. In the last one week queries have increased, I hope situation will be better in June first week with the sports marketing sector.”
Trehan also gave valuable advice for budding athlete managers. He said, “To be a good athlete manager, you have to be very transparent…you have to be very hard-working. And, most excitingly, you have to be on duty 24×7. You don’t get any Saturday-Sundays. Your athlete can call you anytime, any journalist can call you regarding the athlete, most events are during the weekends. But I have been a journalist, I have worked in PR, but this is the most exciting and interesting for me.”