As Sachin Tendulkar retires from all forms of international cricket, the field seems open for the younger players in the team to take up his responsibilities, on and off the field. The likes of Rohit Sharma and Shikhar Dhawan are seeing an increased interest from brands and the premium charged by established players such as Indian captain Mahinder Singh Dhoni and Virat Kohli will increase.
Sharma has already signed a Rs 2-crore yearly payment contract with a leading sports goods brand. While Tendulkar will continue to be its face, Sharma will be seen endorsing it on his jersey and bat, as the batting maestro did during his years on the field.
“It will mostly be like a mentor and protege thing,” says a professional from the sports celebrity management sector. (The next-gen endorsers)
“The timing, in my opinion, for Rohit could not have been better. He has had a very good year in all formats of the game. He has proved that he is maturing with each game. This makes him a good choice for services and products like insurance, technology and real estate,” says Firoz Engineer, business head at Balaji Spark.
He’d earlier handled a number of sportspersons while working as vice-president at Globosport.
Sharma also currently endorses Lays, Seagrams' Royal Stag (music) and Nasivion (nasal drops). According to sector estimates, the endorsements have come at a fee of Rs 1-1.25 crore a year.
This is a sharp jump from the Nike shoe endorsement deal the player had until August this year, for Rs 50 lakh annually.
“Virat, with his attitude on and off the field, has filled the shoes of the ‘bad boys of cricket’ like Ganguly and Dhawan. The rustic image around him has potential to go the Dhoni way, with a massive appeal. This leaves a clear field for Rohit to take on the image of the sophisticated, cool and collected player, like Sachin and Dravid have in the past,” says Bunty Sachdeva, promoter, Cornerstone (the company that manages Rohit Sharma).
Dhawan, who has had a fairly eventful year, has also finally landed individual endorsements. Till now, he could be seen in group or team ads like Makemytrip.com and Lays.
He will now be seen in the promotions of Rodeo Drive (a luxury brand) with tennis player Sania Mirza, along with a couple of other endorsements in the pipeline. He is yet to break into the big league; sources in the sector say his endorsement fees are between Rs 75 lakh to Rs 1 crore a year.
Dhawan’s junior in the team and the prince of Indian cricket, Virat Kohli, currently has close to 10 brands under his belt, at an average fee of Rs 5-6 crore a year. He has seen tremendous interest from brands that have an edgy and young personality.
The result is that his fees have gone up from Rs 2-3 crore around 18-24 months earlier to the current rate.
The Indian captain is undoubtedly the highest paid endorser, with an average fee of Rs 9-10 crore per annum, across as many as 18 to 20 brands, say sources in the sector.
Less could be more
“The problem with cricketers today is that they have a very hectic schedule. So,in my opinion, we will see cricketers endorse fewer brands but demand a higher premium for these. With the way their schedules are, I do not think they would have time to commit for shoots and events,” says Indranil Blah, chief operating officer, CAA-Kwan.
Tendulkar will continue to feature in the more mature brands.
“Since he won't be playing active cricket any more, he obviously won’t be the celebrity of choice for many products and sevices, mainly things like sports apparel, energy drinks, etc, related directly to on-field action. On the other hand, initiatives in the CSR (corporate social responsibility) space will have a lot to gain from Sachin as the endorser. Also, brands in the insurance category will want to continue with Sachin, since he lends a sense of credibility and maturity,” says a professional in the sports management space.
People in the know speculate that while the asking rate of endorsements by Tendulkar might reduce by 15-30 per cent, depending on the brand and the role he plays, the number of brands he endorses will definitely come down. He currently rakes in Rs 5-6 crore a year per brand, and endorses eight to 10. These include Aviva Life Insurance and travel portal Musafir.com (in which he holds a stake as well), Toshiba, Adidas and Coke.