Much like his career on the cricket field that was split into two halves, Sourav Ganguly's passage as a brand ambassador seems to be taking a similar trajectory. In the last month, three films featuring the former Indian captain have been rolled out. While his 'first stint' saw him endorse Pepsi, Coca Cola, Hero Honda and Tata Indicom among others, the latest brands he endorse include Captain TMT (has endorsed the brand in the past), DTDC and Tetley.
We asked experts about the recent films and what makes Ganguly an attractive option for brands, nine years post his retirement from international cricket.
Indranil Das Blah, CEO, Kwan (celebrity management firm) says, "The timing of the three films may be a coincidence. Ganguly will always be relevant in Bengal. He's also done a great job in keeping himself relevant in the public eye as he hosts a game show, owns an ISL team and more. I believe Sachin (Tendulkar), Rahul Dravid and Ganguly will always have brands interested in them. For any brand that's looking at a world-class leader, Ganguly is a great option."
Navonil Chatterjee, chief strategy officer, Rediffusion Y&R, who is also the former Indian captain's school friend, believes Ganguly has a permanent space in India's collective memory as a fiery leader who upheld the country's self-respect internationally.
He says, "His leadership qualities, his personality is ageless and something that will always find resonance. He is also a kind of guy who drew extremes out of you – you either loved him or you hated him. And those who love him swear by him and are willing to raise a hell for him if required. That unquestioned, and at at times even unreasonable love, loyalty and passion which he invokes – brands hope that some of that will rub off to them as well by using him as an ambassador. His die-hard fans, of which there are many, also believe that destiny and unfair practices robbed them of having enough of Sourav Ganguly – the fact that he could have contributed more to Indian cricket and they were denied of that privilege. So I guess there is always that thing of ‘un-whetted appetite’ with Sourav Ganguly and his fans. If not as a cricketer, at least still back in the public eye as a brand ambassador."
Chatterjee also believes that the likes of Ganguly are an attractive option for brands because other than Kohli and Dhoni (who is on retirement mode), the cupboard is dry for brands.
Arun Iyer, chief creative officer of Lowe Lintas (the agency that conceptualised the TMT Captain film), claims that Ganguly was part of the film simply because of the market they're targetting. He said, "He's popular in the the main market (Bengal) and so we went with him."
Chatterjee surmises,"You always feel that there’s more to come from him in the context of Indian cricket – that he definitely has more to contribute there. And unlike the Dravids and Laxmans who will also do a fabulous job there training young India prospects, with Sourav, you know, it will be a far more public role and his involvement will perhaps be with the senior team – in the spotlight and not so much as a back room boy. That’s also the charisma of that man."