Former Indian cricket captain Virat Kohli remains the most valuable celebrity for brands, however, stepping away from captaincy has impacted his value which saw a significant drop compared to year 2020.
The swashbuckling batter who currently has over 30 brands in his portfolio saw his brand value decreasing from USD 237.7 million in 2020 to USD 185.7 million in 2021.
“One of the major factors for this drop was the increased risk associated with his brand and with the recent stepping down from captaincy and controversy with the BCCI (Board of Control for Cricket in India),” Aviral Jain, Managing Director, Duff & Phelps -- A Kroll Business told Moneycontrol.
Last year, when the BCCI issued a statement saying that One Day International (ODI) captaincy will rest with Rohit Sharma, it ended up in a big controversy. Kohli in a press meet before departing for South Africa tour alleged that there was no clear communication between him and the Indian cricket board before his sacking as ODI skipper.
Aviral Jain noted that such controversies bring an element of risk in sustaining the brand portfolio which he has today.
“His brand fees, number of brands may not be sustainable to the extent it was in 2020 and that is why there is an impact on his brand value,” he added.
Experts point out that cricket stars in the past have lost out on brands when they walked away from the captaincy. Like Sachin Tendulkar who lost out gradually to Rahul Dravid after his exit from being at the helm of team affairs.
Rohit Sharma who is now the captain for all three formats of the game -- ODI, Test and T20 -- saw his brand value increase from USD 25.7 million in 2020 to USD 32.2 million in 2021.
But Jain believes that with the reduced workload after stepping down from captaincy, Kohli can focus now on what he is known for, his batting. A lot will depend on his performance on the field, he added.
Although Kohli's brand value dropped last year, there was no impact on his social media presence. According to the Duff & Phelps brand valuation report 2021, the cricketer's social media following has increased to 265 million followers in 2021 as compared to 165 million in 2020.
Jain said that the social media presence of some celebrities has grown by 15-20 percent but Virat Kohli is an exception as his social media following has seen over 60 percent growth.
“So, every time a marketer uses Virat, his reach is two-three times of the next best celebrity option (Akshay Kumar with a social media following of 148 million) he (marketer) has>”
Sports stars are shining
When it comes to sportspersons in the brand value rankings, their presence has increased with five sports stars in the top 20 list as against three in 2020.
Jain said that MS Dhoni has seen a significant jump in his brand value from USD 36.3 million in 2020 to USD 61.2 million last year.
"One of the key drivers was that last year when we did valuation there were rumours that he might quit IPL and last year's IPL was his last but his team's performance turned it around for him. CSK's winning the title extended Dhoni's cricketing life. He has increased his endorsement portfolio and the fees he is commanding saw a good jump," he added.
Apart from cricketers, PV Sindhu made it to the top 20 celebrity list.
Another one (sports star) knocking the door but not in top 20 (list) is Neeraj Chopra. He is the blue-eyed boy of brands because of his achievement in (Tokyo) Olympics.
Chopra became the first track and field athlete to win a gold medal for India at the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo.
"Our statistics show he has signed up 8-9 endorsements in 2021 and he will sign up more in 2022. He is someone who can break into the top 20 very soon," said Jain.
He added that other Tokyo Olympic medallists are doing well in the endorsement space including Bajrang Punia, Mirabai Chanu, RaKi Kumar Dahiya."While we do not expect them to break into the top 20 in the immediate time frame, I think the advantage on their side is the next Olympics which is in 2024. From a marketer’s perspective one can see a three-year association with such athletes," he added.