Earlier this week, when former cricketer Yuvraj Singh announced his retirement from international cricket social media was flooded with praises and tributes for the southpaw, who is known especially for his performances in T20 World Cup in 2007 and the 12th edition of the ICC World Cup in 2011.
"Brands have always associated Yuvraj Singh for his grit and and his ability as a cricketer and a persona of immense playing and non-playing grit. Yuvi to that extent is an attitude. If Yuvraj builds on that attitude, there is a chance that his brand-endorsement value can be extended beyond the standard expiry-date that normal non-playing cricketers come with," said Harish Bijoor, brand-expert and founder, Harish Bijoor Consults iNc.
The range of brands Yuvraj Singh endorses include Microsoft Xbox 360, Reebok, Pepsi, Parachute Hair Cream, Birla Sun Life, and Royal Stag Mega Music, Laureaus and Benz, said N Chandramouli, CEO, TRA Research.
Yuvraj, who has pocketed Rs 85.60 crore by playing in IPL matches, was also the sixth highest earner over the 12 seasons of IPL. He has also been the most sought-after cricketer for brand endorsements.
"He represents hope, an emotion that all look for, especially when the chips are completely down. I feel he has the ability to reinvent himself all over again, as a businessperson, incubator, mentor and coach. The story of Yuvi is inspiring and brands associate with Yuvi to get that flavour into themselves," said Chandramouli.
However, things are not similar when cricketers bid adieu to the sport.
According to Bijoor, "a brand of cricketer is only as good as his game. Public memory is really short. A cricketer is remembered the most when he is playing an innings, and remembered less and less as those knocks diminish. A non-playing cricketer by that yardstick of consumer memory-pull, diminishes in brand-endorsement value. Never mind whether the star is a Sachin Tendulkar or a Yuvraj Singh."
But both Tendulkar and Sehwag have been performing well in the endorsement game. In the 2018 list of India’s most valuable celebrity brand by Duff and Phelps, Sachin stood at rank 14 with a brand value of USD 21.7 million (approximately Rs 146 crore). The master blaster to his kitty has as many as 17 brands and in 2018 he endorsed around 10 brands.
"Sachin is an icon of rare quality and I don't think they make a lot of people like that anymore. His voice is one that shows authenticity, truth and trust and brands love such a brand," said Chandramouli.
As for Sehwag, he was recently signed as a brand ambassador for PolicyX.com, an online insurance web aggregator.
Yuvraj already has a platform through which he can remain connected with the people- YouWeCan, a foundation to spread awareness about cancer. The cricketer is a cancer survivor who made a comeback to international cricket in 2012 after fighting the disease and was also conferred with Arjuna Award which is India’s second highest sporting award.
Singh also launched YWC Fashion which is an athleisure wear brand offering premium apparel. This sports lifestyle brand is an extension of YouWeCan and the sales revenue of YWC-clothing goes to the foundation.
Ask Chandramouli whether cricketers are more relevant to people even after their retirement than other sports personalities he says that “cricket has a universal appeal and therefore the cricket endorsers have a little better dig post retirement.
On the other hand, Bijoor believes that brand Yuvraj will be "less and less effective after the retirement from international cricket amid people but there is always a window time of 12-18 months to make the best of it for a brand endorser who has just opted out".Concurring with Bijoor, Chandramouli said that "sportspersons have a limited endorsement shelf-life and their endorsement value reduces with time. However, if Yuvi does something to keep his charm on the people, he will continue to fascinate them".