Sachin Tendulkar (Image: Reuters)
- Seven years have passed since Sachin Tendulkar retired from cricket but he seems to be everywhere. He is on TV, he is on social media, he is on billboards …heck, he is even on flyers selling a galaxy of brands as he used to when he tormented bowlers.
Sure, the Indian Premier League (IPL) is ongoing and it should not surprise to see India’s most famous cricketer endorsing brands. But Tendulkar has maintained a busy schedule off the cricket field even after hanging up his boots.
Tendulkar now endorses as many as 18 brands — nearly the same number as he did at the peak of his career—said Mrinmoy Mukherjee, Director and CEO of SRT Sports Management Company (SRTSM).
Paytm First Games, an online gaming platform, recently signed up Tendulkar as the company's brand ambassador. Livpure, a company that offers water and air purifiers and Luminous, maker of batteries and inverters that have been with SRTSM for 10 years, have renewed their deal and signed up Tendulkar again for another five years, said Mukherjee.
"You will see us signing a few more brands over the next month."
In 2016, three years after retirement, Tendulkar marketed around 25 brands, more than he did during his playing days. Though that number has dropped since, he has maintained a well, steady rate in the number of brands he represents at around 17 in the past three-four years.
Mukherjee said SRTSM's annual revenue over the past five years has shot up by about 250 percent and per day commercials have risen 347 percent.
Still Going Strong
Tendulkar’s counterparts Viral Kohli, the Indian cricket team captain, and MS Dhoni eclipse him in marketing, but they are active cricketers. Kohli tops the 2019 Duff & Phelps' celebrity brand valuation list, with a brand value of $237.5 million, or around Rs 1,771 crore. Dhoni is ranked ninth at $41.2 million, or roughly Rs 307 crore.
Dhoni sells 33 brands and Kohli around 25. There have been few new deals after the pandemic, according to Sandeep Goyal, chief mentor, Indian Institute of Human Brands (IIHB).
Tendulkar the marketer is still going strong. His brand value grew by 15.8 percent in 2019 to $25.1 million (around Rs 185 crore) from a year ago. Tendulkar also happens to be the only retired celebrity to feature in the 2019 Duff & Phelps' celebrity brand valuation study.
He has also managed to hold steady his endorsement fees after retirement. "At his peak, Sachin Tendulkar was valued at Rs 6-7 crore per endorsement. The number is likely to be closer to the range of Rs 4-5 crore currently," said Lloyd Mathias, who advises companies on strategy and an angel investor.
However, the endorsement fees for some deals can go up to Rs 8-10 crore per endorsement per year which is more than what he charged during his play days.
Data by TAM Sports, a division of TAM Media Research, compiled for the first 16 matches of the latest edition of IPL showed that Tendulkar ranks eleventh among 20 sports celebrities in terms of ad volume share
Master Blaster of Brands
So, how is Brand Tendulkar still ticking?
Tendulkar is nothing if not a shrewd businessman.
During his playing days, Sachin endorsed health and soft drinks (Boost, Pepsi, Coke) footwear (Action shoes, Adidas) and snacks (Britannia, Sunfeast), categories that reflected the brand prowess of a top-class athlete. In retirement, he has shifted to “mature” categories such as DBS Bank, Gillette, BMW, UNICEF, meshing well with his image as a sports legend.
Aviral Jain, Managing Director, Duff & Phelps, said Sachin became an ambassador for organisations with a social uplift bent such as Ministry of Health & Family Awareness, UNICEF, etc. “While these endorsements may not directly impact the brand value, it certainly helps in creating a strong image of a socially responsible and contributing celebrity."
Take a look at SRTSM. The company was launched by Tendulkar and his wife Anjali in 2016 to manage his business interests and endorsement deals.
Soon after retirement, Tendulkar also focussed on building a strong social media presence. He has 28 million followers on Facebook, 34.3 million followers on Twitter and as many 27.1 million followers on Instagram.
"The world was changing and Sachin told us that we have to build our digital footprint for the young who probably would have been seven years old when he (Tendulkar) gave up cricket.," said Mukherjee of SRTSM. “And now a lot of those who follow Sachin Tendulkar on social media are below 18 years.”
Brands like Paytm have signed up Tendulkar with an eye on his considerable social media following. “Platforms like Facebook, Instagram and Twitter can be a great source of amplification and awareness," said Mathias.
The huge social media following cannot be emphasised enough. "The fan factor for Sachin Tendulkar continues to remain strong, reflected in the number of social media followers which have increased from 57.9 million in 2017 to 89.4 million in 2020. Tendulkar’s positioning is still solid, and his aura remains embossed in the minds of the consumers," said Jain.
In the recently released TIARA report by Indian Institute of Human Brands (IIHB), Tendulkar was ranked No. 1 with a score of 60.7, followed by actor Amitabh Bachchan who scored 59.9.
TIARA— short for trust, identify, attractive, respect and appeal—is a study that uses research data across 64 active attributes covering image, personality, among others. For the report on celebrities as human brands, as many as 60,000 respondents were surveyed and 180 celebrities across sports, TV and Bollywood were analysed.
Busy As Ever
Tendulkar the businessman also built an online game called Sachin Saga. Around 1.5 million gamers flock to the game monthly and the game has registered 15 million downloads, said Mukherjee.
Tendulkar has also astutely preserved his ties with cricket publicly.
He has a long-term partnership with Mumbai T20 league. He has also partnered with Middlesex Cricket and County Club to create the Tendulkar Middlesex Global Academy, a camp based in Mumbai.
Tendulkar also built a platform named 100MB, which aggregates multi-format content. 100 MB marked the beginning of Tendulkar's digital innings in 2017. His posts on Instagram regularly feature the platform.
The boatload of endorsements has kept Tendulkar busy even during the pandemic. He was either busy shooting commercials from home and getting in touch with dealers of brands, according to Mukherjee.
"Recently we interacted with 15,000 dealers for one of our brands. On ground, a dealer meet would have around 600 people but online, the dealers came with their wives and children," he said.