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Why veteran cricketers are still batting strong for brands

Thanks to CRED, we are getting to see a new side of Kapil Dev. The veteran cricketer, who is usually see dressed in a classic way, appears in a flamboyant avatar in the latest cricket ad – what most see as channelling his “inner Ranveer Singh”. Bollywood star Ranveer Singh is known for his flamboyance and really outlandish fashion sense. Not too long ago, CRED presented the normally cool and calm Rahul Dravid as “Indiranagar Ka Goonda”, where he is seen giving road rage a new dimension.

Viewers were pleasantly surprised recently to see another veteran cricketer Sunil Gavaskar back on the TV screen in a Topcem Cement ad.

Sourav Ganguly, Sachin Tendulkar, Virendra Sehwag, MS Dhoni (he has retired from all forms of cricket except for IPL) – all continue to appear as brand ambassadors of multiple brands, though it’s been a while since they hung up their bats and pads.

Apart from CRED, Rahul Dravid appears in ads for Gillett and Piramal Realty, as well as Government of India’s anti-tobacco ads. Sachin Tendulkar’s list of ads include Unacademy, Luminous Power Technologies and Mutual Funds Sai hai campaigns, with which he has been associated for a decade now. Sourav Ganguly regularly appears in ads for Fortune, My11Circle, Ajanta footwear, among others.

Why are these cricketers who have retired from active cricket still a strong proposition for brands? These cricketers have always embodied a lot of good qualities and characteristics that they have built over a long period of time and also they have grown beyond cricket as individual personalities and their residual value is still highly respected and valued by brands.

Dependable and Trusted

The biggest element these brand ambassadors possess is trust and dependability. And for most brands trust comes first and is foremost important for them when they try to position or market any product or brand. Building trust for a brand is long drawn process while some brands are lucky to ride on their legacy there are others who need to work hard to achieve the trust factor for their brands. This is where some of the brands work smarter and align with some trusted and dependable brand ambassadors both from the Bollywood and Cricket. In Bollywood we have many brands who still swear by Big B to promote their brand while others have roped in past cricketers like Gavaskar, Dravid, Tendulkar, Sewhag and Dhoni. If you notice and observe these cricketers, they have all played a long innings and ruled the India cricket for quite some time and were household name.  That is enough to prove that they are very dependable and a trusted personality.

Clean image and role models

All these cricketers who are currently endorsing have a very clean image till the time they retired. No controversy whatsoever and that really motivates brands to consider them. A product’s quality and image are being carried by the brand ambassador and hence having a clean and positive image is what brands will be looking for. Being a role model will definitely catapult equity of the brand further as consumers like to connect with brands that are being endorsed by known and successful brand ambassadors who are inspiring role models. Controversies involving brand ambassadors affect public perception so brands are very particular in choosing the celebrity with the right image and attitude and fortunately these cricketers are surrounded with good qualities which can only further strengthen the brand equity and not vice-versa.

Leadership qualities

All of them are leaders in their own way. Dhoni was one of the shrewdest thinking captains who has won three World Cup titles for India. In his role as a captain, Dravid did remarkably well for the country and he was seen has the fulcrum of Indian batting. Sourav was one of the most dynamic captains that India had and who infused that aggression and dynamism on the cricket field. Sachin and Sehwag were leaders in their own way as they led from the front when they opened the batting for India in the one-day internationals. While Sachin was very solid, but Sewhag was aggressive and fearless. All these inbuilt qualities do help brands to connect with cricketers of the past to endorse their products as they benefit the brands in someway or the other.

Overall cricket as a sport has always been attracting brands once you reach a certain threshold level of popularity. According to Sumanto Chattopadhyay, Chairman & Chief Creative Officer, 82.5 Communications, cricketers like Tendulkar and Dravid are legends. Their personas extend beyond cricket and continue to grow even if they retire from the game. Brands can thus continue to benefit from their endorsements.

Sachin Tendulkar, for example, has been a brand ambassador for Luminous, a solid, trusted brand. The love and respect that Indians continue to have for him have served to reinforce the strong values for which Luminous stands.

Sharing his views, Saad Khan, Chief Strategy Officer, FCB Ulka, remarked that not every cricketer commands the same adulation, or have an aura like Sachin, Dhoni, Sehwag, Dravid or Ganguly. They retired from cricket, not from public memory. Today, perhaps, their endorsement fee will also be lower, so somewhere brands think they will get a win win deal by signing them up. 

Expressing his opinion, Navroze D Dhondy, Founder and Managing Director, Creatigies Communications, said that cricket and Bollywood have been the two most commonly used routes for brands for nearly half a century or more.This trend of going “RETRO”, as I call it, cuts across both the genres, Cricket and Bollywood, as you can see a resurgence of stars like Anil Kapoor, Jackie, Madhuri, along with Sachin, Sehwag, Dravid, etc suddenly coming out of the woodwork.The brands are playing smartly on a combination of “nostalgia, popularity, and recognition” with these Ex-Stars, and most importantly at a fraction of the costs they would have had to pay for any current Cricket or Bollywood star.

Kyron Dinshaw, Vice President, Marketing, Piramal Realty, elaborated, “India reveres cricket as a religion, and its legends are worshipped by the people. Through their influence, they have demonstrated various attributes embodied by multiple brands and connected with the audiences at large. This is characterized by the fact that they influence consumer perceptions and purchase intents. Consumers are more likely to respond positively to a campaign if they have an emotional bond with the influencer." 

He further said, "There is a great degree of credibility that comes with a brand like Piramal Realty. Our mission is to build world-class developments by setting new standards for quality and design. The appointment of Rahul Dravid as a brand ambassador is a natural fit for us, as he is known for his performance and resilience. These values are perfectly in sync with those of Piramal Realty. We are confident that this will be a great collaboration that will yield great results. A standout Indian sports figure, Rahul Dravid has been appointed as the new coach for the Indian Cricket team recently. He is not only admired by the Indian populace due to his success in cricket but also his personality off the field. He has been chosen as a direct representation for the brand as an experienced brand ambassador which helps in speaking directly to our customers with signature messages. The former Indian captain is known for his dependability and calm demeanour on and off the field.”

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