It's official. Team India's batting sensation Virat Kohli has beaten master blaster Sachin Tendulkar, who retired from cricket last year, in the ad game.
Kohli's endorsement rates have surged by 40% in the last six months. According to the latest data from TAM Media Research on top 10 sports celebrities in 2013, Kohli trumped Tendulkar in terms of commercial time on air last year.
For the entire year, the Delhi lad occupied the first spot on the list of top 10 sports celebrities as per ad volumes on television, followed by skipper MS Dhoni and Tendulkar. In 2012, Tendulkar was in the numero uno position followed by Kohli and Dhoni.
Kohli had already surpassed other sports celebrities in endorsement earnings when he signed a Rs. 10 crore contract with German sportswear brand Adidas last year. Now, he is running shoulder-to-shoulder with Bollywood superstars in the "endorsement fee" sweepstakes.
The 25-year-old cricketer's annual endorsement fee has risen meteorically since last year. Till 2012, he used to command Rs. 3 crore per brand annually, which shot up to Rs. 6 crore in the beginning of 2013.
"Kohli's endorsement fees have risen by almost 40%, considering his consistent performance and iconic status," said Bunty Sajdeh, CEO of Cornerstone Sports and Entertainment, the agency that manages Kohli's endorsement deals.
The sports star is currently endorsing 12 brands against 15 brands last year. This includes Clean and Clear, Adidas, Munch and Red Chief.
"We are becoming very selective in choosing brands," Sajdeh said. "After considering the brand profile, expected media spends and strategies, we are deciding the associations."
Brand experts attributed the rise of Kohli's brand value to his ability to connect with the youth. "Virat inspires our core target audience of young aspiring athletes and passionate fans," said Tushar Goculdas, brand director, Adidas India.