Volume IconWill end of Virat Kohli's T20 and IPL captaincy bowl out 'Brand Kohli'?

Virat Kohli has chosen to step down as a captain after T20 World Cup 2021. Will this affect his popularity? Will there be an impact on the advertising sweepstakes? Let's find out in this report

ImageAnurag Sharma New Delhi
India captain Virat Kohli pads up during net practice prior to the first Test Match between England and India at Trent Bridge cricket ground in Nottingham (Photo: AP/PTI)

Photo: AP/PTI

Virat Kohli is someone who is known to wear his heart on his sleeves. He is a fierce competitor who leads from the front. His attitude and mannerisms, both on and off the field, make news headlines. There are very few sportsmen who match his numbers when it comes to fan following. And, he is not just the best batsman, but also India's favourite brand endorser. 

So, when he announced that he was resigning from the captaincy of India's national T20 team and also Royal Challengers Bangalore, the IPL franchise he plays for, the move raised many eyebrows, not just in the cricketing fraternity, but also in the ad and brand world.

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Let's first talk about Kohli, the brand, and whether his decision will impact his brand value.

Well, India's 'run and record machine' retained his top position for a fourth straight time in Duff & Phelps' ranking, with a brand value of $237.7 million in 2020. He charges 5 to 5.5 crore rupees per day for his endorsements. And, according to an industry estimate, currently he endorses more than 40 brands, including Mobile Premier League (MPL), MRF Tyres, Myntra and Puma.

In fact, he was the only sports celebrity on the top 10 list of 2020. In the war of brands, he is ahead of the mighty Khans of Bollywood. And, if experts are to be believed, it will take a decade or so for the Indian movie stars to compete with or topple him from the top spot. 

The other nine on the list of top 10 are all Bollywood actors. Akshay Kumar at present is a distant second, with a brand value of 118.9 million dollars. Then there are Ranveer Singh, Shah Rukh Khan, Deepika Padukone, Alia Bhatt, Ayushmann Khurrana, Salman Khan, Amitabh Bachchan and Hrithik Roshan.

Coming back to cricket, captaincy typically has a short shelf-life, and players continue to stay in the limelight even after they cease to be leaders. Sachin Tendulkar, and Mahendra Singh Dhoni more recently, are some examples.

But the question that begs an answer here is… Will Virat continue to be a leader in the brand world?  The history of cricketers as brand endorsers indicates that the biggest deals have gone to captains – be it Sunil Gavaskar, Kapil Dev, Tendulkar, Rahul Dravid, Dhoni or Kohli. Will Kohli's on-field heroics buck this trend and decide his metrics in the ad world?

Business Standard spoke to Rediffusion MD Sandeep Goyal to understand what Kohli's stepping down may mean for his brand. Here's the gist of what he said:

  • Kohli's brand value has been under stress for last 2 years
  • His performance on the field hasn't matched his own standards
  • Brand Kohli will strengthen, provided his bat does the talking
  • If you don't perform, there is no brand value

Well, it's the person Virat Kohli who ultimately decides his priorities. But we would love to see ‘player Kohli' continuing to smash the bowl all around the park and also getting rewarded for it.

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First Published: Sep 28 2021 | 10:31 AM IST

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