Pullela Gopichand is glad that Virat Kohli has declined to renew a soft drink brand endorsement commitment.
Much before sports has grown as a multiple-crore brand endorsement industry. Much before the hype around sports icons’ endorsement deals. There was the badminton icon who would perform his social responsibilities with the serenity of a Buddhist Monk.The man is former all-England champion and the chief coach of the Indian badminton team-Pullela Gopichand. Soon after his 2001 All-England triumph, Gopichand had an offer worth Rs 50 lakh to endorse a Coke brand. He declined it. Simply, because he found it injurious to health. Simply because he won’t like lakhs of his followers to suffer the ill-effects each can of soft drink will inflict.
The graphic below based on medicalnewstoday.com study reveals how a carbonated, sweetened drink can affect human body.
“It was just a personal decision. Since 1997, I have stopped drinking these soft drinks. After seeing the reports, as well as studies on the health hazards of these products, I stopped their consumption. Only my family members and friends were aware of the offer and my decision. I did not want to discuss it further as it was purely a personal decision.
“I could not go against what I believed,” maintains the badminton icon. “Besides health hazards, penetration of these products in rural areas also affects the income of poor families.
“Good that Virat has taken a stand. I am happy that there is someone who gives so much importance to health and fitness has made such a good move,” says Gopichand. “If their heroes or role models appear often on television with these bottles in their hands, how can we blame children if they pester parents for buying those products?” Gopichand questions.
“When I started my fitness turnaround, it was more of a lifestyle thing initially. If something goes away from that, I would not want to be a part of that or be promoting that,” Kohli has said while declining to renew his Pepsi deal.
There were other celebrities to put their social responsibilities ahead of the lure for money. From legendary Amitabh Bachchan to two of Gopi’s best students – Saina Nehwal and PV Sindhu.
The list also includes NBA’s Golden State Warrior- Stephen Curry. And then, there are the likes of Sachin Tendulkar, who declined a Rs 20 crore liquor brand endorsement offer. Even though the cricket legend has endorsed brand Pepsi, with whom he has not formed a partnership for health drink.