Mahendra Singh Dhoni, like a vintage wine, has maintained his significance for brands even when critics have been busy speculating about his future with the Indian cricket team. With 10 endorsement deals in nine months, the vintage Dhoni remains most consistent performer in the brand market.
Adman Prasoon Joshi had rightly predicted as Dhoni bid adieu to Test cricket after 2014 that his brand value now is driven by attributes beyond cricketing factors. Dhoni carries his charisma beyond the cricketing boundaries. Just like his departure from Test cricket, questions about his international career have had little bearing on the charismatic cricketer’s commercial demand.
The seasoned craftsman’s brand quotient has exhibited a certain immunity to the critics’ concerns and debates over his relevance till the ICC World Cup 2019. Amidst prevailing uncertainties when speculation were rife about his retirement from international cricket, Dhoni on an average has signed at least one brand every month in 2018. The count between the SRBM Steel tie-up in January-February till the MasterCard endorsement deal this week has been 10 to be precise.
“Even when there was speculation about his immediate future with the Indian cricket team, brands were queueing up to sign Dhoni. Today the value he brings to the table goes far beyond his presence in a match or a series, or the possibility of Dhoni playing in the 2019 ICC World Cup. Dhoni to brands is a belief that comes from years of consistent performance and deliveries in cricket and corporate world,” says Arun Pandey, Chairman and Managing Director, Rhiti Sports, who manages Dhoni’s commercial and brand interests.
“His persona brings in a strong relevance and mass connect across all walks of life, to all genres,” adds Pandey. “Beyond cricket, Dhoni has established himself as a leader, a corporate, a brand, and above all a responsible citizen of India. These traits collectively make him an aspirational persona for the common man.”
The MasterCard deal announced on Wednesday was Mahi’s 10th commercial endorsement signing for the year. Here is the list of brands which Mr Dependable has inked in 2018 so far:
Mastercard : Mastercard on Wednesday announced Dhoni’s appointment as the payment and technology company ’s second brand ambassador in India after Irfan Khan.
WardWiz: Dhoni last month had signed a whopping ₹15 crore, 3-year brand endorsement deal with German cybersecurity company WardWiz.
Run Adam: Also in August, Dhoni has signed a deal to acquire 25% stake in sports start-up Run Adam in consideration for an undisclosed value. Run Adam is India’s first 360 degree sports tech start-up that uses technology to connect athletes, sponsors, experts, coaches, academies, specialists and other resources. Dhoni will play a crucial role in the company’s trajectory as he takes up the role of mentor and brand ambassador.
SoundLogic: Audio brand SoundLogic has roped in Dhoni as a partner-evangelist. As SoundLogic looks to build on its presence in the Indian market to enter new segments and build market share, Dhoni will be an integral part of the journey. The partnership was confirmed in July.
Samudha Group: The Bengaluru-based realty firm in June had roped in Dhoni as its first brand ambassador to represent the brand in all their national campaigns in a multi-year engagement.
Indigo Paints: Pune-based decorative paint maker Indigo Paints has signed the Chennai Super Kings’ captain as the company’s first brand ambassador for the next three years. Dhoni will feature in all the marketing and promotional campaigns of Indigo Paints, which has planned to spend over ₹200 crore on advertising in three years. The deal was announced in June.
Three brands – Sneakers Chocolate, Dream11 and Netmeds – had announced partnerships with Dhoni in the month of March.
Snickers Chocolate: Mars International India Pvt. Ltd, the local arm of American chocolate maker Mars Inc., had appointed Dhoni as the new brand ambassador for its chocolate brand Snickers. The brand was earlier endorsed by Bollywood actors like Sonam Kapoor and Rekha.
Dream11 : Dream11, India’s Fantasy Sports platform, had announced Dhoni as their brand ambassador to be the new face of Dream11’s multi-channel marketing campaigns and brand engagement activities.
Netmeds: Dhoni was also announced the brand ambassador of online pharmacy Netmeds.com. For his “incredibly strong appeal across all sectors and all demographics”, Dhoni has been featuring in nationwide marketing campaigns for Netmeds.
SRMB Steel: SRMB Steel was Dhoni’s first brand promotion deal of the season, which has seen Mahi featuring in the company TVCs and creatives with legendary Kapil Dev.
Besides, there is a long list of Dhoni’s charitable and social commitments which he does not believe in publicising.
Dhoni still remains among the most expensive brand icons in the country. The companies are happy to pay him between ₹ 5 crores and 15 crores for a sponsorship deal based on the company’s requirement and deliverables.
“Brands no more see Dhoni just as a celebrity to endorse their products. They are valuing him as a reliable connect between the product and the consumer,” says Pandey. Dhoni’s value quotient is also driven from the fact that in cricket his absence remains as big a talking point as his presence on the field. India’s tour of England is one bright example where Dhoni was one of the top talking points in commentary and match reviews as India struggled to win matches in spite of driving the hosts to the wire.
Besides, Dhoni and Pandey are also working silently to take Dhoni’s sports and athleisure brand “Seven” to the next level.