KOLKATA: Leading brands, including adidas, Toshiba and Coca-Cola, have said the retirement of India's leading sportsman, cricketer Sachin Tendulkar, will not affect the endorsement deals they have in place.
Attempting to describe Tendulkar's place in the Indian mindspace, the Times of India called him "Michael Schumacher, Muhammad Ali and Michael Jordan put together, and some more" and claimed that no other sportsmen anywhere in the world had played at the top level for 24 years.
"Sachin evokes trust and high performance," Amitava Mitra, chief operating officer at Percept Communications, told the newspaper, qualities which made him a natural target for categories targeted at an older audience such as financial services and property.
But, said Mitra, "even youth brands will chase him because he is seen as a youth motivator". He explained that such brands would like Tendulkar to mentor their group.
Tendulkar currently endorses more than 15 brands, including banks, consumer electronics, sports gear, luxury watches and soft drinks and none saw his retirement as an impediment to a continued relationship.
"Sachin is with adidas for life," said Tushar Goculdas, Adidas India brand director, while the marketing head of RBS (India) said Tendulkar would continue to be "an integral part of our brand identity".
"Sachin is no longer a brand, he's an icon," declared ad director Prahlad Kakkar. "The brands will no doubt be after him, perhaps even more than before, but they will be bound by their limitations, not Sachin's," he continued.
Indranil Das Blah, chief operating officer of Kwan Entertainment and Marketing Solutions, told Livemint he expected the former cricketer would now associate himself with more expensive and aspirational brands.
"Having said that," he added, "I have no doubt a lot of mass brands will look to associate with Tendulkar, considering he is one of the few celebrities who has 100% recognition pan-India, not just across geographies but also demographics."
An infographic from MSL Group, reproduced on mxmindia.com, also suggested that more private labels were in the pipeline.
Data sourced from Times of India, Livemint, mxmindia.com; additional content by Warc staff