Sachin Tendulkar will be the brand ambassador for Reynolds in India, and some SAARC countries (except Pakistan). The batting maestro has signed a three-year deal with GM Pens (marketers of Reynolds writing instruments in India), and will feature in television and print ads, and also be a part of promotions.
Said K Mohamed Meeran, MD, GM Pens, “Sachin Tendulkar is the number one cricket star in a country passionate about the game. We are confident that this association will help build goodwill and generate excitement around brand Reynolds, which is already a household name in India.”
Sachin seems to be the apt choice for a brand whose primary audience comprises children. The company also plans to engage the icon with a co-branded format of its retail outlets ‘Writesites’. The ‘writing instrument stores’ are a mix of franchised and owned outlets, and what was initially launched as a marketing tool, according to the company, has now developed into a serious sales channel.
Seven outlets are up and running in five cities already. The target for the current year is to take the number of Writesites to 20, and add 20 more in the next year. Sachin’s iconic status will lend itself to the outlets soon. Though the contract is for three years, a spokesperson said the company was looking to extend this to a long term.
Admittedly, the challenge is not just to break the clutter of writing instrument brands, but also other brands that Sachin endorses. Said Vishwadeep Kuila, VP – Sales & Marketing, GM Pens, “We will be using Sachin for the mother brand Reynolds, and some other brands like Razor Gel which is targeted at children. If we use him for communication in the same way other brands do, we’ll lose out not just to competition but also to other brands engaging him.”
Three creative agencies handle Reynolds. These are Contract, JWT and Maitri. Initiative handles the media duties, which is pegged at 8-10 per cent of the company’s turnover of Rs. 175 crore. When asked, Kuila stated that all the empanelled creative agencies would be working on the campaigns featuring Sachin. He added that the marketing spend would remain consistent, and “would not go up substantially”.
Added Kuila, “We are the top-of-mind brand, but then there is a lot of fragmentation in the market. You want the likeability to go up.”
The brand claims 20-22 per cent of the organised market for writing instruments, and claimed to have grown by 20 per cent last year. This year the expectations are higher, at 30 to 32 per cent. In addition to the Writesites, retail expansion in the form of vending machines is also underway. Eight to 10 variants of pens are made available through vending machines, which are being tested at schools in Chennai currently.
Sachin, batting for Reynolds, will without doubt power the brand’s all-round growth ambitions. Hopefully, he will also score a few runs in the Test series against the West Indies, and the World Cup in the Caribbean.