In 2011, when Rohit Sharma was going through one of his worst phases in cricket with inconsistent performance and being dropped from the world cup team, a leading news satire website wrote an article citing Rohit Sharma’s appointment as the brand ambassador for Maggi Noodles.
The reason, according to the website was that Rohit would often go out to bat and come back in two minutes, making him their perfect brand ambassador. It was also a time when Rohit was hardly representing any brands in India while his team mates and juniors including Virat Kohli had landed themselves a number of brand endorsements.
Cut to 2013, a double century in a one day match against Australia and a dream debut in Sachin Tendulkar’s second last test match in Kolkata in addition to being the captain of Mumbai Indians, has made Rohit one of the most sought after cricketer in India today.
If sources in the industry are to be believed, the Mumbai cricketer will sign a Rs 2 crore deal with sports goods maker Adidas to sport their brand on his bat. Sharma will be seen walking onto the field today with Adidas branding on his bat and jersey. The brand is currently endorsed by Tendulkar.
"The whole idea is to introduce Sharma as Sachin's protege," says a person from the industry. In addition, the Mumbai based cricketer is also expected to endorse a number of brands and is likely to charge anything between Rs 75 lakh to Rs 1 crore per endorsement annually.
“Rohit is not a new comer. He has been around for more than 5 years and his biggest problem was his inconsistent on field performance even though he had tremendous talent. And now that he has backed up that potential with performances, his brand value is certainly seeing a surge”, says Indranil Das Blah, COO at Kwan Entertainment & Marketing Solutions.
According to media buyers and planners, enquiries have been on the rise from companies including Mobile handset makers, real estate developers, and clothing companies over the past few months and a number of deals are expected to be signed in the next three months.
“About a year ago, he was charging Rs 40 lakh per endorsement and now the market is ready to pay him between Rs 75 lakh to Rs 1 crore per year. He had one endorsement last year which expired in August. Now, we will see a significant rise in the endorsements over the next three months”, an official at a sports marketing company told Business Standard.
Industry experts also pointed out that Rohit was not being approached in the past largely due to his inconsistent performances and his inability to cement his place in one day team and test teams. He was yet to make his test debut while players like Shikhar Dhawan had cemented their place, raising question marks over Rohit's future.
“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 good choice for services and products like insurance, technology and real estate.” says Firoz Engineer, Business head at Balaji Spark and had earlier handled a number of sportspersons while working as Vice President at Globosport.
And now with Sachin Tendulkar hanging his boots on Sunday, industry experts also point out that the time is ripe for Rohit to take on the role of the steadfast dependable player in the team.
“Virat with his attitude, on and off the field, has filled into the shoes of 'bad boys of cricket' like Ganguly and Dhawan with the rustic image around him has potential to go the Dhoni way with a massy 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).
Rohit’s junior in the team and the reigning prince of Indian cricket, Virat Kohli meanwhile has already become a brand to reckon with in the Indian cricket team after Sachin Tendulkar and MS Dhoni. Kohli is reportedly charging Rs 3 crore per endorsement and is currently handling 15 brands. In addition, he had also signed a Rs 10 crore deal with German sports good manufacturer, Adidas.
After the Wankhede test match against West Indies, India will be playing South Africa which will be followed by the 2014 edition of the Indian Premier League. And his Sharma can carry on his purple patch, Sharma can crack into the big league of celebrity endorsements and can be counted alongside MS Dhoni and Virat Kohli.
Meanwhile, experts have also said that with Tendulkar retiring, brands could look at bringing Rohit as successor and adopt a passing the baton kind of theme.
“A good way to capitalise on the rise of Rohit Sharma and the retirement of Tendulkar would be to have both of them on the brand and adopt a 'passing the baton' kind of theme. Both the players have a similar images and Rohit's form has made him the quite a hot property as far as brands are concerned,” says a sports celebrity manager. This is may be exactly what Adidas has in mind for the two players.
Tendulkar currently endorses Aviva Life Insurance and travel portal Musafir.com (in which he holds a stake as well) among many others and brands are not expected to drop him anytime soon according to experts.