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Indian players pricey, brands chase Aussies

business Updated: Oct 16, 2007 23:27 IST
Saurabh Turakhia
Saurabh Turakhia
Hindustan Times
Highlight Story

After the title of Twenty20 champions did wonders for Indian cricket stars like Yuvraj Singh, Sreesanth and MS Dhoni among others, it is now time for Australian cricketers to lap up brand endorsement deals.

Many international companies are noticing that Indian stars are already over-booked and are tapping stars of other nations. Examples are Brett Lee (who was signed on by Timex as early as 2003) and, more recently, Ricky Ponting.

Perhaps it may also not burn the pockets of these companies as much when compared to payouts they may have to make for Indian stars.

Valvoline Cummins, a joint venture between US-based Ashland Inc and Cummins Sales and Services, a subsidiary of Cummins India, has signed on Australian cricketer Ricky Ponting as its brand ambassador for promoting the brand in Australia and India.

Commenting on the association, Ricky Ponting told HT, “I normally choose offers that I find exciting and innovative. Valvoline is a global brand and I personally find a lot of synergy between me and the brand.” When asked about the tenure and the value of the deal, Ponting dodged the question but confirmed that “it is a long term-deal” lasting for more than five years. Ponting is also the brand ambassador for ING Vysya Bank in India through a three-year deal.

Throwing more light on the deal, Naveen Gupta, director, Ashland, said, “The thought of signing on an Indian cricketer as a brand ambassador did occur to us, but since Valvoline is an international brand and Indian stars are already over-booked, we went ahead with the deal with Ponting. Moreover, there is a synergy between Ponting and Valvoline Cummins through factors like leadership, dependability and passion.” Valvoline globally competes with players like Castrol and Elf. Ponting will be used through various marketing activities across media like point-of-sale and print.

Harish Bijoor, CEO of Harish Bijoor Consults, remarked, “While many Australian are popular in India, the converse is not true. Except for Sachin Tendulkar, there is no Indian cricketer with a global appeal. Dhoni can be a potential contestant. In comparison, players like Lara or Shoaib Akhtar have a larger acceptance.”

However, Santosh Desai, CEO of Future Brands, had a slightly different opinion, "Popular Indian cricketers will definitely be paid more. Ponting hardly has any pull in India. This may also be true because of the fact that while cricket may be a popular sport in other nations, in India it is certainly a religion,” he added.