Campaign India Team
Dec 31, 2008

Is Brand Sachin ready for a comeback?

Post his recent fantastic on-field innings, will we be seeing a resurgence of Brand Sachin? Campaign India finds out.While the recession may have taken a toll on the fortunes of Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS), they seem to be having the last laugh as far as their choice of a brand ambassador goes.

Is Brand Sachin ready for a comeback?

Post his recent fantastic on-field innings, will we be seeing a resurgence of Brand Sachin? Campaign India finds out.

While the recession may have taken a toll on the fortunes of Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS), they seem to be having the last laugh as far as their choice of a brand ambassador goes.

As the Little Master mouths the lines, “I play for India, now more than ever!” in a 30 –second spot that has been playing since the Mumbai tragedy, he connects and engages in a way that is every marketers dream. That he has been creating magic with the willow in the recent RBS series, already has most of India listening very carefully to everything he has to say. Perfect timing, one can say.

Though most industry spokespeople are playing it safe by calling the Brand Sachin an evergreen one, it was not too long ago that this very legend was being called jaded and tired by many ‘celebrity endorsement experts’. In fact various brands such as Pepsi, Fiat, TVS and Airtel even dropped the master blaster from their side early this year.

Does, therefore, a single successful series spell resurgence of Brand Sachin?

“Sometime back, Brand Sachin had shifted stages in his product life cycle, from being a master blaster to a mature craftsman. That brought around changes in the portfolio of brands he suits best – from those looking for youth, energy and drive to the ones seeking maturity, consistency, stability, astuteness and humility,” said Manish Porwal, CEO, Percept Talent Management. “While his success can temporarily boost his acceptance in the earlier quadrant a bit, he has strategically already moved on to the next stage and temporary blasts or let-downs will not change that.”

The Indian celebrity endorsement market is a bit like the Indian cricket team where the players have to constantly perform to be picked by the selectors. As unlike in the West, where politics and society also play an important part in breeding ‘endorsers’, in India it is more or less limited to cricket and Bollywood. Thus, to get the maximum bang for their buck and an instant recall, clients tend to favour in-demand celebrities.

Since the IPL, Brand Tendulkar has had to compete with Brand Dhoni. “While it is an unfair comparison, considering the life stages of the two brands, I would rate Dhoni higher than Sachin right now,” said T Gangadhar, managing director, Mediaedge:cia. “Dhoni is an exciting young talent with lots of flair and charisma. His disarming good looks and his small-town rootedness don’t hurt his prospects either.”

While ‘momentum’ or how talked about is the brand could help in making short term tactical decisions, it is really not a good long term indicator of whether a sportsperson would be a good brand ambassador or not. “GSK has four criteria when consider ing who should be our brand ambassadors,” explained Shubhajit Sen, VP-marketing, consumer healthcare, GSK. “These include:  Talent/Expertise as this determines the longevity and credibility of the endorsement; Character -- At a minimum, this reduces the risk of the ambassador doing/saying things that could harm the brand; Charisma which works very well on TV and Momentum.”

While brands targeting the ‘youth’ may find Brand Sachin a wee bit old as an endorser, there are many categories that still find Sachin irreplaceable specially those seeking brand values like consistency, credibility and humility.

Manish Porwal, CEO, Percept Talent Management

“Brand Sachin is above minor success jubilations and failure woes . What Sachin offers is a unique blend of popularity and likeability with humility, stability, non-controversial, positive demeanour, consistency and credibility. It is difficult to find brands for Sachin but it’s also difficult to find Sachin’s replacement for brands that want these attributes. There is hardly a comparison between Sachin and Dhoni. Acid test to this truth can be that both of them would hardly ever be considered for the same brand for the same role. They have niches of their own and in spite of both being popular. Dhoni is clearly the new ‘star’ when Sachin is a ‘cash cow’.”

Shubhajit Sen, VP-marketing, Consumer Healthcare, GSK

“Sachin doesn’t need to ‘make a comeback’ – he is a legend.  His excellent recent form has certainly increased how much people/media are talking about him and this increases his ‘value’ as a brand ambassador. Sachin is the best in the world at what he does (the talent axis). That is his USP! We feel brands that can credibly associate and be seen to be helping him perform are best suited for Sachin. He has been Boost’s ambassador since 1989 - we were one of the first to sign him up.  We know that the association between Sachin and Boost is strongly entrenched in our consumers’ minds because of the appropriateness, credibility and length of association.”

T Gangadhar, MD, Mediaedge:cia

“I don’t mean to be a doomsday prophet but I can’t see Sachin attracting too many new brands on the back of his recent exploits. Most brand managers seek youthful attributes for their brands and Sachin could struggle to deliver on that front. Shelf life is another concern.  Notwithstanding his fantastic achievements, I doubt if his career horizon extends beyond the 2011 World Cup, ruling out brands looking for long-term play.  While unfair to compare Sachin and Dhoni due to different life stages, Dhoni’s stock amongst women and children has risen dramatically - maybe even ahead of Sachin’s, after leading India to a famous win in T 20 World Cup.”

Dhiren Amin, Idea Architect (head planning), Euro RSCG Mumbai

“Sachin brings a promise of ageless solidarity to a brand which is unparalleled. His days of flamboyance are now over since he plays a different role in the team. So, brands need to utilize his current image to their advantage. Sachin seems a lot more believable in RBS than he does in the Aviva ads. His promise of “I play for India now more than ever” is one that only he could have pulled off while the Aviva’s role of playfulness can be exhibited by most other cricketers (including Dhoni and Yuvraj). He adds another kind of virtue to brands (solidarity, mature exuberance, team spirit), different from what he stood for in the pre-Dhoni era.”

Mahesh Ranka, GM, Relay (Starcom)

“Sachin, as a matter of fact, had never faded from the minds of the people and same goes well for corporates. Yes, his performances against Australia and England will give that impetus for brands to take a fresh look at him. Reality is only a handful of brands have the capacity to get him onboard. Given the current scenario more brands will be keen to sign him on and reap benefits. Sachin by itself is a unique proposition, as once you sign him in a category, no other brand can get him on board. Key aspects to Sachin are: Universal – cross boundary appeal, consistent over achiever, a role model, responsible.”


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