Ride-hailing app Uber has roped in Indian cricket team captain Virat Kohli to promote the brand. The 29-year-old cricketer will be the first to endorse the Uber brand in the country and this will be the 16th brand he endorses. Kohli will be involved in multimedia marketing initiatives by Uber. It is a multi-year deal. As per Duff & Phelps’ Rise of Millennials: India’s Most Valuable Celebrity Brands report (December 2017), Kohli pipped Shah Rukh Khan as the most sought-after brand ambassador, moving up from number two in 2016, clinching an overall brand value of $144 million. As per reports, the Indian cricket team captain earns Rs 3.2 crore per brand with 17 million followers on Instagram, as of December 2017. He is the only Indian athlete to command such a high fee. On his own personal experiences with Uber, Kohli said, “As a cricketer, I travel a lot and I have personally enjoyed the seamless experience of booking an Uber. It’s great to see how the company is using technology to revolutionise the way people move around cities and is empowering millions by creating economic opportunities.” According to Sanjay Gupta, head, marketing, Uber India and South Asia, Kohli personifies dynamism, integrity, grit, ability and passion. “He is the embodiment of India’s ambitions on the world’s stage; he anchors the aspirations of billions, and it’s the little things he does that bring joy to their lives. It’s this balance of purpose with a larger responsibility to citizens of the world that makes him the perfect partner to realising Uber’s commitment to India,” he said.
Besides Uber, Kohli is associated with brands like Puma, Tissot, Manyavar, Audi, Herbalife, American Tourister, MRF and Vicks, to name a few. Early last year, FE had reported that after becoming captain of Team India, Kohli’s brand value had soared to Rs 4 crore a day. Sources indicate that this figure has increased further and currently stands at Rs 4.5-5 crore per day. Normally, an annual endorsement contract includes the celebrity’s availability for a two- to four-day period (eight hours a day), during which time the advertiser may schedule an event, photo-shoot or ad shoot, as per campaign requirements. In the past few years, the cricketer has been approached to endorse numerous categories such as undergarments, fans and even pan masalas, but he has refused to lend his name to these. He didn’t even renew his contract with Fair & Lovely Men as he does not connect with it now. In an official statement, Amit Jain, president, Uber India and South Asia, said, “Virat’s commitment to India on and off the field is commendable — from bagging world titles for the country to advocating positive change, he is invested in making a difference to the community at large. In Virat, we have found a partner who reflects the drive we share with everyday India.”