Sachin Tendulkar has been a constant on television for over two decades now - either blazing away on the cricket field or endorsing products. With the announcement that he would no longer step on the field in India colours after his 200th Test match next month, the entire country, indeed the whole cricketing fraternity, knows an era is coming to a close. So, come November, and a Test series, his last, will draw heightened interest - people will rush to the stadiums and more viewers than normal will turn on the TV. What more could brands and media planners want? There are all the ingredients to make the occasion ripe for picking.
"It is going to be one of the most anticipated events of the year," says adman Prahlad Kakkar. He feels Tendulkar is more than a brand - an icon, for over two decades - and it's natural of everyone to rush to earn from his game, one last time.
Adidas, one of the many brands the cricketer endorses, will launch an 'SRTforever' campaign, which will be released a few days before the two-Test series against the West Indies begins in early November. Other brands, too, are looking to do special campaigns around Tendulkar's exit. But they refuse to divulge much. "We have plans, of course, but it's a bit early to reveal them," says an executive of an FMCG brand that Tendulkar currently supports.
Media planners are working on new rates for TV ad spots. "Generally, Test matches don't garner too many eyeballs and the rates are not so high. But this one will be different," says a Mumbai-based media planner. The fact that India is playing the West Indies, and not a team like Australia or England, has become irrelevant for rates. Media planners do not reveal the approximate value of the Test series but they expect rates to be at a premium. ESPNStar is the official broadcaster of the series.
"This isn't comparable with the World Cup but the magnitude of the event is certainly not to be underestimated," says Santosh Desai, CEO, Future Brands. A 10-second ad spot during a Test series usually goes for around Rs 50,000, but for Tendulkar's farewell series, the costs are likely to touch at least Rs 80,000. For the 2011 World Cup, the last big cricketing event in the country, the ad rates for 10-second spots ranged between Rs 4 lakh and Rs 18 lakh through the tournament. The India-Pakistan semi-final and the final against Sri Lanka commanded as much as Rs 23 lakh.
His last two Tests will, however, not be curtains for Brand Tendulkar. As Desai says, though this is the last time Indians would see Tendulkar on the pitch, they can expect him to feature in many future ad campaigns. "He can provide a lot of value to the brands he endorses, even when he isn't playing," he says.
The two Tests against the West Indies are also expected to draw many spectators to the ground. Mumbai, Tendulkar's home, will host the cricketer's last match, his 200th Test, though the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) hasn't confirmed whether the match will be played at Wankhede or Brabourne stadium. The average attendance at Test matches has dwindled over the past few years; but this series should be a bit different. "A full house is expected, not only for the last Test, but also the penultimate one," says a BCCI official.
Tendulkar, over the years, has changed the economy around cricket in India, and his final match looks to follow that script perfectly.
Ad rates for various cricket formats
(Rs per 10 seconds)
Rs 50,000: Test matches
Rs 80,000: Sachin’s last series
60%: Windfall over normal Test match ad rates
Rs 23 lakh: ODI World Cup final
Rs 15 lakh: IPL 2013 final