Diwali festivities began early this year after Mahender Singh Dhoni fired crackers in Jaipur to score an unbeaten 183 runs against Sri Lanka. The celebrations seem to be continuing with the lad from Ranchi becoming the hottest new poster boy.
While the Rajasthan Cricket Association and the Jharkhand State Government have added Rs 15 lakh to his bank balance, his celebrity management company claimed that corporate sponsors such as Pepsi and Reebok have already signed him on as brand ambassador along with the likes of Sachin Tendulkar and Rahul Dravid. Talks are on with some other brands as well.
Speaking to Business Line, Mr Jeet Banerjee, Managing Director, Gameplan Sports, said, "Several companies have approached us. We are still in the process of negotiations." The young cricketer's passion for bikes has led to a two-wheeler company showing interest in signing on Dhoni. He has often been spotted riding a 650-cc bike in his hometown.
Besides, a hair-care company and a denim brand are also in talks with the cricketer, thanks to his long hair-do and muscular personality. A mobile gaming company is also to rope in Dhoni to promote its brand.
Industry sources estimated that Dhoni could be attracting an endorsement fee of about Rs 10-15 lakh that could go up by 30-40 per cent after his recent performance.
Unlike other cricketers who lapped up several endorsement deals during their good run, Dhoni's manager said that his company has been very discerning. According to Mr Banerjee, Dhoni has not yet completed a year in the cricket circuit and therefore the focus is on his on-field performance. "We are primarily concentrating on his game and if he keeps performing well, brand endorsements will follow. We have not been actively scouting for brand endorsement deals on our own," he added.
Media planners feel that Dhoni's performance in the forthcoming matches would be crucial to his saleability as a brand endorser. "Dhoni has had some big scores, but he will have to sustain his good form. The visibility of a star depends on the on-field performance," the media analyst observed.