MS Dhoni may be off the field but not off endorsements

With speculations surrounding the ace cricketer's retirement, experts opine whether brand Dhoni will continue to sustain

e4m by Anjali Thakur
Published: Jan 21, 2020 9:19 AM  | 4 min read
MS Dhoni

Indian cricket wicketkeeper and batsman, MS Dhoni, has been excluded from the Board of Control for Cricket in India’s (BCCI’s) annual contract list for October 2019 to September 2020. This news led to many by surprise and fueled speculation on whether this is the beginning of the end of brand Dhoni.

“The brand world is a ruthless world. Whoever is not at the top, the brand value reduces significantly and we have seen in the past with Sachin Tendulkar, the moment he retired and if you compare the brands he endorses vs brands he used to endorse, it has significantly come down,” said Atul Srivastava, Founder and CEO, Smart who has been associated with cricketers such as Virat Kohli and MS Dhoni in the past.  

He added, “Brands invest in you only to ensure that their brand is visible, Jo Dikhta hai woh Bikhta hai. If you are coming less on Television, obviously your brand value will come down. But in case of Mahendra Singh Dhoni, there is a slight twist. His brand value may come down slowly not as steep as others because he continues to be with Chennai Super King (CSK) where he is visible half a year.  Over a period of time, the brand value per se may come down in terms of the number of endorsements but the number of engagement goes up for these players.”

Echoing Srivastava’s comment, Sabyasachi Mitter, CEO, Fulcro said, “With every cricketer, whether it was Sachin Tendulkar, Sunil Gavaskar, Kapil Dev or Mahendra Singh Dhoni when they are at their prime, their brand value is typically the highest. When you are visible on the television and on the field there is a value that is associated with the brand. Dhoni has not played any competitive cricket since July 2019 and if you are not seen on Television and on the ground, the public memory is short, there will be a decline in value of his endorsements. Brands typically sign contracts which are of 1-2 years for celebrities and I think those contracts will be in force. However, going forward he will reduce the amount he charges for endorsements. The number of endorsement and value of endorsement will slightly go down.”

In 2018, according to a Duff & Phelps report, Dhoni was valued at $26.9 million, ranking 12th in terms of celebrity brand value — pretty much in the top league although far below from pack leader Virat Kohli’s $170.9 million valuation.

In 2019, MS Dhoni managed to retain the no. 5 spot on the Forbes India Celebrity 100 list. And interestingly, despite not playing test matches, his income rose from Rs 101.77 crore in 2018 to Rs 135.93 crore in 2019.

As soon as the decision was announced on the official BCCI page, fans from across the world started a Twitter trend #ThankYouDhoni to express their love, affection and gratitude.

There has been no official statement from BCCI and Dhoni on his retirement. He will be a part of the IPL (Indian Premium League) representing Chennai Super Kings.

Indranil Das Blah, Founding Partner, Kwan says, “These are speculations but one thing is for sure that he will be playing IPL and a lot will depend on if he is available to play the T20 World Cup in November this year. However, if he does retire it will be a hit to his brand value.” Quickly attaching a caveat, he said, “Mahendra Singh Dhoni has gone beyond the sports pages, as brand Dhoni he is very strong. There could be a small drop but Dhoni’s brand value will not go to zero.”

Citing a few examples, Indranil says, “If you look at Sachin Tendulkar or Amitabh Bachchan. Sachin is not playing cricket and Amitabh Bachchan is not doing many movies but they are still very relevant on-screen because they are huge brands. So, I think people like Dhoni have gone beyond on-field performances for his brand value.” 

Shradha Agarwal, Co-founder & COO, Grapes Digital says that since he will be playing IPL, Dhoni's brand value will be carried out but will diminish eventually. “If Dhoni is in contract for X number of years, he will continue to endorse those brands until the contract expires or if they find another face.” Agarwal echoed Srivastav’s comment of ‘Jo Dikhta hai woh Bikhta hai’.

Dhoni has built strong brand equity over the years, thanks to his splendid career graph in the cricket. He is associated with multiple brands including Mastercard, Netmeds, Cars24, Indian Terrain, redBus, Indian Army, Panerai, Ashok Leyland, Powerade, Snickers, Dream11, Indigo Paints, and others.

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