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Who?s selling what this season

Last week, Mahendra Singh Dhoni was roped in as brand ambassador of Reliance Communications Ventures Limited.

india Updated: Mar 28, 2006 03:59 IST

Last week, Mahendra Singh Dhoni was roped in as brand ambassador of Reliance Communications Ventures Limited. The buzz is that the Ranchi smasher has agreed to endorse Reliance products and services for a whopping sum that’s between Rs 4 to 6 crore. And that’s not all. As Yudhajit Dutta of Gameplan — the sports management company that handles Dhoni — says: “With BPCL, Videocon and Orient Pspo, Dhoni is inching towards the crore-plus club of cricketers as far as the endorsements are concerned.”

New season, new deals

Cricket season is in full swing and happy days are here again for our cricketers. Win or lose, their iconic status will keep ensuring plum deals. Indian captain Rahul Dravid has a new lifestyle product to sell this summer, and a leading business house is trying to rope in Irfan Pathan. Pathan’s endorsement deals range from Rs 80 lakh to a crore.

Brand war, the next level

Taking the marketing war to the next level is sportshoe giant Reebok, which has signed new players for branding after Nike walked away with the official sponsorship of the team. Says Reebok MD, Subhinder Singh Prem: “We have Harbhajan Singh, Irfan Pathan and RP Singh now, besides Dhoni and Dravid.” And since Nike is the official sponsor of the team, Reebok is trying to brand the bats of individual players and shoes.

It’s a young world

Indeed, in a season when Sourav is out, Sehwag is mostly out of form and Sachin is down with shoulder injury, the young guns seem to making hay. S. Sreesanth and Abid Nabi (yet to debut for India) have already been signed by Percept, who are also all set to sign Munaf Patel. “The younger cricketers have fire in their belly and attitude,” says Sanjay Kacker of Percept D’Mark. Gameplan has signed rising star Piyush Chawla. Another future hope, RP Singh, has been lapped up by 21st Century Media.

Performers will reap it rich

Of course, all will depend on results. If the team keeps winning, investing in these young cricketers will pay dividends — more so, as the year ahead is full of tournaments. “Marketing agencies are interested in youngsters,” says Kacker. “Endorsement deals can fetch anything between 15 to 20 lakh for Sreesanth. It’s a busy schedule ahead — besides regular series, there’s the Champions Trophy followed by the World Cup in 2007. After the World Cup, several veterans (he means the likes of Sachin and Kumble) may retire. So, if these youngsters perform well, the sky is the limit for them.” For young RP Singh, deals range between Rs 8-25 lakh.

In that sense, says Kartikeya Rao of 21st Century Media, signing on youngsters is “a gamble”. Agrees Latika Khaneja of Collage Sports, which manages Gautam Gambhir and Virender Sehwag: “Four of five rising cricketers you sign may flop. But it’s a risk you have to take.” After all, signing them on after they become superstars could be a costly affair.

First Published: Mar 28, 2006 03:59 IST