Tendulkar made his debut against Pakistan in 1989 and his journey with Indian brands started almost immediately, picking up the first few endorsement deals in 1990 for health supplement Boost and Band-Aid from Johnson & Johnson. Tendulkar may play his last match on the fifth day of his 200th Test match in Mumbai.
Across 24 years, Tendulkar is estimated to have endorsed over 50 brands including Boost, Pepsi, MRF, Adidas, Britannia, Fiat Palio, Airtel, Sanyo BPL and Coca-Cola with accumulated endorsement fees over Rs 500 crore. His prominent business deals included the Rs 30-crore plus with WorldTel in 1995 which was renewed in 2001 with more than double the price tag of Rs 80 crore. In 2006, Tendulkar inked a contract with advertising firm Saatchi and Saatchis Iconix which was reportedly valued at Rs 180 crore for three years.
World Sports Group (WSG) has been managing Tendulkars brand endorsements since 2006, when his contract with WorldTel ended.
For ad-film maker Prahlad Kakkar, Tendulkar is an icon whose value cannot be measured in currency. Like we do not call Mahatma Gandhi a brand, Tendulkar for us is an icon. He is much ahead of being a brand. He is an embodiment of values which will continue to inspire young and old for many years to come. Kakkar directed Sachin in Pepsi commercials.
KV Sridhar, chief creative officer at Leo Burnett South Asia said that Tendulkar was timeless and had moved well beyond cricket. His price may come down but his value wont. If you have a timeless classic brand, Tendulkar would be the right person to endorse it. He is unblemished by controversies. Sridhar pointed out that actor Aamir Khan did only one movie a year. Yet Khans brand value hadnt plummeted. Titan continues to be endorsed by him. But if I had to compare Tendulkar with any endorser, it would certainly be Amitabh Bachchan. They are two timeless people who inspire millions.
Echoes Anirban Das Blah, managing partner at CAA KWAN, a leading entertainment, fashion, celebrity and sports management company: Tendulkar has stood for integrity, value and a fighting spirit for us in the post 1990 liberalised India. He showed that we could win against any opponent. He will remain sought after for brands that embody reliability and integrity even after retirement.
However, brand-strategy specialist & CEO, Harish Bijoor of Harish Bijoor Consults disagrees: Unfortunately, the world of brand endorsement is very cruel. We have seen the decline in the endorsement deals for Sachin since past four years and almost in line with his decline in the ability to score and deliver. I doubt if he will have any endorsement deals one year from now.
According to Kakkar, brand Tendulkar stands for reliability, integrity, dedication and honesty. Categories like banks, insurance, government schemes and health schemes will always find Tendulkar a perfect brand-fit even after his retirement. In this era of corruption and scams, Tendulkar is the one icon you can showcase to your children. He will always be bigger than any brand, said an emotional Kakkar.
Cricket writer Ayaz Memon said: Brand Tendulkar is not going to be diminished. His legacy will endure, Memon said, putting him in the same league as Michael Jordan. He agreed that over time, Tendulkar had matured in terms of the endorsements he took on. Hes been tilting towards more serious kind of advertising.
Sensing his ability to connect with the masses, the government has already used Tendulkar as a spokesperson for National Egg Coordination Committee and the AIDS Awareness Campaign.
But his critics said he may not be of much commercial value post-retirement. He peaked when he did well with his bats. In those days, Tendulkar used to charge Rs 8-10 crore per endorsement. That was his peak. Of later, Tendulkar has only stood for records and milestones. We are emotional people, but brands and marketers are not. He will remain an icon, but his space will be filled by younger cricketers as is already happening, said a senior executive in a sports apparel brand.
Hiren Pandit, COO of TransStadia which has diversified interests across sports academies, intellectual property rights, consulting and infrastructure said that brands may need to strategise differently on how they used Tendulkar. He (Tendulkar) may need to re-position himself. His brand value will depend a lot of how much he manages to stay in the public and media eye. We will have to wait and watch as to what he does next.