Dhoni dropped from BCCI annual contract list; where will his endorsements go?

On Thursday (January 16, 2020), BCCI came out with their central contract list of players for the period October 2019 to September 2020. A surprising omission from the list was that of former Indian skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni. Until last year, Dhoni was in the A category, which fetched him around Rs 5 crore.

Being dropped from the list has raised fresh doubts on the future of the former Indian Captain, who hasn’t played in the famous Blue since the World Cup semi-final loss to New Zealand last year. His absence adds to the fact that being dropped from the list isn’t exactly a shocker.

While the list includes Virat Kohli and Rohit Sharma in the Grade A+ list (Rs 7 crore), and players like KL Rahul have been upgraded from Grade B to A, Dhoni still continues with his sabbatical and does not dive into talks of his future.

So, how will this drop affect his brand endorsement deals as well as brand equity? Will he be able to acquire new brand endorsements?

The absence of Dhoni, who would at one time charges Rs 8-12 crore for an advertisement, from matches will definitely affect his visibility in the public eye, many brands might now shy away from signing on the former captain. Although he is arguably the best captain the Indian cricket team has had and has the World Cup and T20 World Cup to his list of achievements, piggy backing on that won’t last for long. Today, the Indian team has several players who are young and very popular. Brands will definitely be looking for the next long term plan when it comes to endorsements.

However, that might take a while and Dhoni’s brand endorsement future can still be saved by the stance that he takes on his future.

Talking about the effect on his endorsement deals, Vani Gupta Dandia, Growth Maverick at CherryPeachPlum Growth Partners, said, “The younger lot have taken over and nobody really expected Dhoni to be the first choice anymore. Having said that, Dhoni’s personality and what he stands for is far bigger than the immediate implications of the contract. Dhoni acquires a very special place in the hearts of the people, especially after knowing his background and movies like ‘MS Dhoni’ and ‘Roar’ really showcasing how he and his life are. There’s genuine love and respect for him, which might be bigger than the cricket he’s played. This might actually still help him make the list of brands who are looking to portray similar values.”

Llyod Mathias opined, “I think Dhoni’s exclusion from BCCI’s list of contracted cricketers will begin to impact his brand value, albeit very gradually.

Dhoni has over the years built himself into one of India’s all-time cricketing greats and his achievements, both as a player and India’s World Cup winning captain, will be remembered for a long time to come. Also, Dhoni will continue to be an IPL superstar, so he will be very much in the public eye.”

Continuing further, Mathias said, “Of course, how he shapes his career beyond cricket will be interesting and that will be a key element of the longevity of brand Dhoni.”

His stance post cricket is really going to be important for how brands take him onboard. Maybe Dhoni will need to reinvent himself and find his USP for people to still be able to relate to him and brands still finding value in his equity. It is certain that Dhoni won’t be able to piggy back on his already created brand equity for long. Agreeing with this Vani Gupta Dandia said, “Dhoni will now need to reinvent himself and find a way to stay alive in the hearts of the people.” 

The former Indian skipper has been a part of several historical moments for the Indian cricket team, right from his quirky Helicopter shot and unique stumpings to the very memorable World Cup winning six against Sri Lanka at the Wankhede Stadium. 

Dhoni has been a part of several brand endorsement deals over the years. Here’s a trip down memory lane of the former India skipper’s brand associations: 

Meanwhile, post the announcement of the BCCI annual contract list, the hashtag #ThankYouDhoni was trending, with people thanking ‘Captain cool’ for his services over the years.


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