Sandeep Goyal
Jul 17, 2019

Blog: Rohit Sharma shortchanged on endorsements? Because historically captain takes all

The author believes that for 'Hitman' to hit bigger jackpots off-the-field, the mandarins at BCCI will have to hand him the crown in at least one format of the game

Blog: Rohit Sharma shortchanged on endorsements? Because historically captain takes all
He is the only batsman in the world to hit five centuries in a single World Cup. He is currently the only player in cricket history to score three double hundreds in ODIs, his highest being 264 runs. He is the only international cricketer to hit seven 150+ scores in ODI cricket. His frequency of scoring hundreds (every 5.55 innings) is the best-ever amongst the world’s top 67 openers ever. He is the only captain to win the Indian Premier League (IPL) title four times.  He is the fastest batsman to score a century (in just 35 balls) in international T-20 cricket. He is also the first Indian to score five T20 centuries, and the first player to hit four T-20 international centuries. He is Rohit Sharma, India’s prolific and prodigious ‘Hitman’. 
Considering the many achievements and glorious records posted by Sharma in the past decade that he has played an anchor role in Indian cricket, one would have thought that he would be inundated by offers for brand endorsement. But all that he has to show over 11 years as an international cricketer are deals with Maggi, Fair & Lovely, Lays, Nissan, Restless (an energy drink), Nasivion (a nasal spray), Ceat, Hublot, Aristocrat luggage, Adidas, Oppo, Relispray, Sharp, Conekt and a few more where he features as part of Mumbai Indians’ cross-sponsorships. In fact, while Sharma was scoring one century after another in the current World Cup, there was not a single brand featuring him on television. So, most of his endorsements are either dated, or the brands he supports do not have large, visible above-the-line media spends. 
In contrast, his captain, the indomitable and indefatigable Virat Kohli was very visible in the World Cup telecast with Uber, Google Duo and a small cement brand Duraguard. MS Dhoni, despite a lukewarm World Cup performance with the bat, was seen championing fantasy game Dream 11, Mastercard and even a fan brand Orient. The ageing Sachin Tendulkar was seen in advertising for Apollo tyres, and Sharma’s make-shift opening partner KL Rahul was in Royal Stag advertising.  
Brand experts are quick to point out that Rohit Sharma despite being a mind-numbing run-machine is not ‘interesting’ enough. Not ‘fun’ enough. He is ‘just too flat’, ‘lacks fizz’ … that he suffers from ‘the all work and no play makes Jack a dull boy’ syndrome.  Much like VVS Laxman in the past. Or Gautam Gambhir. Or Ravichandran Ashwin. Or Zaheer Khan. None of whom really got their place in the sun with advertisers despite illustrious international cricketing careers. Rohit Sharma’s track-record is in fact a wee-bit better than some of these greats, more akin to Virender Sehwag and Shikhar Dhawan; and perhaps marginally less than Yuvraj Singh. 
Methinks the problem lies elsewhere. The GroupM-ESP Sports Report 2019 pointed out that in 2018, of the Rs. 482 crore spent by brands on sports star acquisitions, 81 percent was accounted for by cricket, and there too two cricketers Virat Kohli and MS Dhoni between them pulled in 66 percent of all monies. What is common between them? One is the current captain, the other a former captain. And if you add yet another ex-captain Sachin Tendulkar to the count, three skippers would account for 79 percent of all endorsement fees paid out. 
Cricket endorsements in India have historically been dominated by captains … Sunil Gavaskar (Dinesh Suitings, Thums Up, Yamaha RX 100, Ulysses Nardin …), Kapil Dev (Boost, Palmolive, Bajaj, Rapidex …), Sachin Tendulkar (MRF, Airtel, Mastercard, Pepsi, Canon, Colgate, BMW … many more), Saurav Ganguly (Sona Chandi Chyawanprash, Hero Honda, Pepsi …), Rahul Dravid (Hutch, Gillette, Kissan, Britannia, Pepsi, Nikon, Google Pixel, Asian Paints …) have been the beneficiaries of their skipper title. Even on that list, captains Ajit Wadekar, Bishen S. Bedi, S. Venkatraghavan, Dilip Vengsarkar, Krishnamachari Srikkanth and even Anil Kumble hardly got any endorsements over the past 40 odd-years. But out of the advertising kitty, whenever a cricketer was to be featured, a captain (sometimes an ex-captain) would be the first choice.  
There is much talk in media these days that Rohit Sharma should become a regular (not just stand-in) captain of either the T20 squad or the ODI team and that the Indian captain’s job should be split to ease the constant pressure on Virat Kohli. This may or may not happen. But were it to actually take place, the flow of advertising contracts to Sharma may dramatically increase … as it is, Sharma has been the best IPL captain so far with four trophies, but even when as a stand-in to Kohli he has been a very successful captain whenever he has been entrusted the job at the India level … 

Rohit Sharma's record as India captain







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Now to answer critics on his personality. Both Dravid and Dhoni attained more pronounced success off-the-field once they acquired the captain’s halo. As personalities, they were closer to the current persona of Rohit Sharma, and not as colourful or effervescent or excitable as Virat Kohli or Saurav Ganguly. But Dravid gained currency as ‘The Wall’ and Dhoni’s reticence came to be actually admired and branded as ‘Captain Cool’ once advertisers started to actually consider them for brands. So, ‘The Hitman’ Rohit will surely find wider currency with brands if and when anointed as a captain in his own right. 

Yes, captains in cricket literally (and historically) take-all, and for Rohit Sharma to hit bigger jackpots off-the-field, the mandarins at BCCI will have to hand him the crown in at least one format of the game. Watch this space for more. 
Dr. Sandeep Goyal is a keen watcher of the game, and uses his immense knowledge of cricket history to cross-tab it to the advertising business.
Campaign India