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Brand Endorsers, Part I: What happens to Sachin now?

The first of a three-part series that looks at Sachin Tendulkar, Salman Khan and Ranbir Kapoor, each of whom has been in the news. First Sachin: Does Tendulkar need to re-position himself to be more relevant to brands post his retirement from one-day internationals? afaqs! asks the experts.

Brands could not have wished for a better ambassador. He's beyond controversy, trusted and idolised by millions across demographics, with equal sway over the mass and class. Ever since he stormed into the hearts of millions of Indians with his debut in 1989, Tendulkar has been a favourite of brands, from cola giants to health drinks to even financial services.

Sachin Tendulkar

Brand Tendulkar has a unique appeal. Beyond his records, he represents the aspirations of middle class India, and for years has managed to retain his clean image and connect with the masses, riding on his consistent dedication and passion for the game.

Will he retire from the hearts of cricket-lunatic Indians just as he has retired from the shorter format of the game? Some opinions.

Alok Bharadwaj, senior vice-president, Canon India

There are two things. One is age and the other is stature. With age and the entire legacy attached to him, he has created a stature for himself. I do not think there will be any drop in the stature. He also represents strong values. But, relevance to the brands is something which is dynamic. It is important to know what the brand wants and the target group.

I do not think Sachin Tendulkar consciously does his branding. His actions do the branding for him. Hence, his brand image is cultivated out of the outcome of his actions and perception. He only works to make himself play cricket пїЅ that is what he does.

When we opted for actor Anushka Sharma and did not renew our contract with Tendulkar, we had certain things in mind. We were looking to shift our plans and have a more youth connect. I feel Bollywood has a better connect with youth.

Alok Bharadwaj
Kiran Khalap
Indranil Das Blah
Jitender Dabas
Ashish Khanzanchi
Dheeraj Sinha

Although he is not exiting the sporting world now, his relevance to more youthful, technology, contemporary and fast-changing brands will diminish.

Kiran Khalap, founder, Chlorophyll brand & communications

First of all, I don't think a human being can be a brand, contradicting the common belief of celebrities being brands. It is more of these entire set of associations that the person is linked with. For Sachin Tendulkar, this has been controlled aggression, middle class morality and winning.

Luxury brands somehow won't go well with him. Probably that is the reason why Tendulkar's, the fine-dine place that he launched, didn't fly that well. On the other hand, Tendulkar's street food would fly off well.

I feel his brand value will depend on how well he is able to reinvent himself. For example, something like what Madhuri did for herself. After her comeback, she has started endorsing an anti-ageing cream and a toothpaste brand, as her smile continues to be effervescent. Master of reinvention is the king.

Indranil Das Blah, Kwan Entertainment & Marketing Solutions

The true impact of his retirement will be felt after he retires formally from Test cricket. Tendulkar stands for stability, performance, excellence and statesmanship. He does not need to change himself too much.

In fact, now that he is no longer accessible to the market through a popular format of the game, he will be a priceless commodity. He could focus his attention on working with real-estate brands.

He could also endorse some national-level brands in telecom and FMCG.

In fact, endorsing a mother brand more than individual brands would be perfect for him.

Alok Saraogi, head, brand and marketing communications, Ashok Leyland

Every icon needs to reinvent himself and Sachin Tendulkar is in a very strong position to do exactly that. This could be in the form of his own product range, similar to what he struck with the Future Group. Toothpaste brand 'Sach' was co-created by the cricket icon Tendulkar and Future Group. He could also launch his own apparel range.

Brands in healthcare and children's products would be perfect for his image.

His brand value will certainly get affected in the short run, but it is important for him to play his cards well. However, he is certainly not going to remain the Rs 100 crore brand for long.

Jitender Dabas, executive vice-president and head, planning, McCann Erickson

The move has been almost expected. There is a certain sense of loss but you have to consider that his recent performance hasn't been good. All celebrities and endorsers have a finite life. In fact, Birla Sun Life Insurance's insight on 'Jab Tak Balla Chal Raha Tab Tak Thath Hai' holds very true for cricketers.

In fact, the criticism for not opting to retire was hurting his image. Now, after this sudden announcement, he will be missed.

I feel that the lifetime equity of Sachin Tendulkar is like that of Don Bradman. To me, he is a symbol of paramount excellence. There was a sudden emotional outpouring on social media platforms such as Twitter and Facebook after this announcement. It was like a reconsolidation of emotions. From a performer every day, he will become a symbol of excellence.

Tendulkar will now be perfect for brands such as Johnny Walker and BMW. I don't find a need for him to reposition himself. People will reposition him as someone who stands for long-term excellence. Now that he has stopped playing, he becomes iconic, higher order and above criticism.

However, because he will not play actively, he won't be a part of everyday conversations. In that way, a lot of brands won't be able to use him.

Ashish Khanzanchi, national creative director and vice-chairperson, Publicis Ambience

Sachin Tendulkar is a hero who stands for a lot of things. He will always remain an icon. But, generally I believe in 'out of sight is out of mind'. Take Ajay Jadeja, for example. He was this popular, flamboyant cricketer and even if his exit hadn't been controversial, his image would have faded.

I feel that Tendulkar's value as an endorser has gone down for the past five years is now steadily diminishing. He has also been going out of circulation and is no longer connecting with youthful brands.

However, I must add that Tendulkar's fan following will last for at least three-four decades. He could explore ads for youthful brands such as Pepsi and Airtel, going beyond cricket. For example, like Amitabh Bachchan in the kite-flying film for Pepsi.

Dheeraj Sinha, head of planning, Grey, South and Southeast Asia

Obviously, he will lose out. His relevance will decline, too. Brands that wish to connect with the youth in the 15-20-year age group, can't use him as an endorser. The shorter format of the game was more youthful as compared to the longer form. Hence, the task for him is to make himself relevant to the other category of brands.

The classic case is that of Amitabh Bachchan, who repositioned himself as a patriarch as compared to his 'angry young man' image in the earlier days. Today's youth connects with Mr. Bachchan as someone who is mature, intelligent and a father-figure. They may not have been able to connect with his earlier image.

Marketers and brands are very flavour-driven and they stick to those endorsers who have done something spectacular at that point in time. Many brands might start dropping him as an endorser.

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