As the man of 100 hundreds in international cricket, Sachin Ramesh Tendulkar celebrates his 46th birthday today (April 24), the business scribes are no less fortunate than their sports counterparts to write about the feats of one of the greatest cricketers ever.
Beyond his over 30,000 runs in international cricket, the most number of centuries in Test and One Day International cricket, the Little Master has also scripted many firsts for the business world which laid the foundation of making cricket in India the multi-crore rupee industry that today makes Virat Kohli the biggest brand icon in the country. In between there was Mahendra Singh Dhoni.
But Sachin rose on the horizon of Indian sports brand endorsement world when the ad gurus would rely on cinema and glam world to promote products and brands. Sportspersons appearance could be counted on finger tips – from the one odd Brilcreme appearance by Farokh Engineer, who would then get a £ 500 bonus from the brand for playing without a cap, and Kapil Dev’s epochal Palmolive Da Jawab Nahin and Rapidex English Speaking Course.
The bat sticker deals more often than not be barters for the supply of sportsgear.
Then emerges Sachin Ramesh Tendulkar who changed the dynamics of the business tie-ups for sporting icons. The man once commanded a record ₹ 10 crore price to endorse a brand.
In 2013, Tendulkar was listed at 51st position in Forbes’ list of world’s highest-paid athletes, with his total estimated earnings of $ 22 million. In October 2013, the net worth of Tendulkar was estimated at $160 million by Wealth-X, making him India’s wealthiest sportsperson.
Just like his batting prowess, Sachin took the brand world by storm with his first major business deal. In 1995, then the 22-year-old Sachin had inked a record ₹30 crore ($4.6 million) five-year deal with WorldTel.
The man possessed was yet to become the Master Blaster the world has known him to be. Five years later, a rampant Tendulkar registered almost 200% jump in his brand worth when WorldTel inked a ₹ 80 crore ($ 12 million) contract in 2001.
A matured Tendulkar by then had started shatter one cricket record or the other almost every time he would step out on the field. Just like the might of his willow, his brand worth was growing at awe-awakening proportions. No celebrity in the country would command the value Sachin would create for brands.
In 2006, Saatchi and Saatchi’s ICONIX offered him a three-year contract valued at ₹180 crore (US$28 million) – almost 400% rise in annual value of his previous long term deal.
As Indian Premiere League was launched with much fanfare in 2008, Sachin Tendulkar’s contract as the Mumbai Indians icon player was among the highest ₹ 15 crore bracket.
The long list of brands endorsed by Sachin included Boost, Pepsi, Coca-Cola, MRF, Adidas, Britannia, Fiat Palio, Toshiba, TVS, ESPN Star Sports, Canon, Airtel, Reynolds, Colgate-Palmolive, Philips, VISA.
His business interests include restaurants: Tendulkar’s (Colaba, Mumbai) and Sachin’s (Mulund, Mumbai) and Bangalore. He co-owns the Kochi ISL team in the Indian Super League Football in association with PVP Ventures and Bengaluru Blasters in the Indian Badminton League.
Amidst all his commercial commitment and pressures, Sachin stayed focused on aggregating runs on the park, multi-crore rupee contracts and honours rained intermittently. The man of many first is also the first Bharat Ratna from the field of sports. The first sporting honour was an Arjuna Award in 1994 at the age of 21. Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna (1997), Padma Shri ( 1999), Padma Vibhushan (2008) and Bharat Ratna (2013) followed later.