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Cricketers' brand value crumbles

india Updated: Jan 16, 2012 09:37 IST
Himani Chandna Gurtoo
Himani Chandna Gurtoo
Hindustan Times
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The defeat at Perth can cost MS Dhoni and his boys dear, literally and ‘figuratively’.

Media analysts, brand experts and sports marketing agencies believe the abject capitulation of the Indian cricket team Down Under will shave off about a fifth of their brand endorsement values.

Captain Dhoni could be worst hit, with brands likely to rework endorsement contracts in the wake of his unexpected hints at taking an early retirement from Test cricket.

"The defeat will definitely hit hard the sentiments of the brands attached to Dhoni and other players," said Santosh Desai, chief executive officer, Futurebrands, a brand management consulting firm.

Brand experts said the defeat will erode cricketers’ endorsement fees by about 20%.

“Companies have started reconsidering the extension and renewal of agreements for further endorsements,” said Navin Khemka, vice-president, ZenithOptimedia, an advertising and media-buying firm that manages Toshiba, a brand endorsed by Sachin Tendulkar.

Dhoni has recently hinted that he may prefer not to play Test cricket after 2013, two years ahead of the next edition of the 50-over cricket World Cup.

“I am afraid, Dhoni’s endorsement values may drop to the pre-World Cup levels or even lower after his hints on retirement from Test cricket,” said Santosh Sood, a brand consultant and former chief executive officer of Rediffusion Y&R, an advertising house.

Dhoni currently charges about Rs10 crore a year from each brand that he endorses — double what he was earning before India won the Word Cup last April.
Dhoni’s brand agents, however, stood up in defence of their prized client.

“Dhoni has asked for a break and he is being honest,” said Arun Pandey, president, Rhiti Sports, the agency that handles the Indian cricket captain’s brand engagements. “What else can a brand expect from their ambassador — a truthful and honest person.”

Other players’ brand managers echoed similar opinion.

“One defeat does not matter to the overall career of the player,” said Harish Krishnamacher, senior vice-president, World Sport Group, an agency that handles brand endorsements of Sachin Tendulkar and Gautam Gambhir.

The defeat would most likely prompt companies to go easy on inking long-term brand endorsement contracts with players, experts said.

“The brands that were contemplating signing new contracts will go easy,” said Sam Balsara, chairman, Madison World, an advertising agency and brand management firm.