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Will test retirement impact ‘Brand Dhoni’?

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MUMBAI: Mahindra Singh Dhoni’s achievements suddenly seem to be a thing of the past. What immediately comes to mind is Dhoni’s stupendous victory as hugely popular ‘Captain Cool’ of the 2011 ICC Cricket World Cup. 

Dhoni recently announced his impending retirement from the test cricket format,  to supposedly concentrate better on ODI and T20 formats.  Close on the heels of this news, came the announcement that Dhoni had been declared the team’s captain of the Indian squad, at the forthcoming ICC Cricket World Cup 2015.

His on-field, cool ‘dude’ charms and his exciting and varied hairstyles, have hitherto made him quite the favourite with various Indian brands. Not surprisingly, late last year, he was the only Indian sports person to figure on Forbes list of the world’s most valuable athlete brands. Ranked at the fifth position, with a mammoth brand value of $20 million, he was darting ahead of sprinter Usain Bolt and even edged football giants like Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi, who were placed at the sixth, seventh and ninth position, respectively. But will the recent announcement grossly affect his brand value or his new signings? Only time will tell…

Celebrity and sports management firm, CAA KWAN’s COO, Indranil Das Blah, feels his retirement from test cricket will definitely impact his erstwhile huge brand value. “Being the captain of the Indian test cricket team, he is pretty much the statesman of Indian cricket, but now brands will see him retiring slowly as he winds down his career.” When questioned if his performance at the ICC World Cup 2015 could impact his brand value, he goes on to say, “If the team manages to do well and even win, Dhoni’s brand value could be bigger than ever before. Therefore, if the team is not successful, the captain’s brand value will simultaneously diminish rapidly. So, all rests on the World Cup.”

The cricketer currently endorses close to 20 different brands in categories ranging from FMCG, telecom to real estate. He also co-owns the Chennaiyin FC team of the Hero Indian Super League, a fitness chain called SportsFit and the Ranchi team for the Hockey India League, along with Sahara India Pariwar. He is the face and his wife Sakshi Singh Rawat, holds a 25 per cent stake in Amrapali Mahi Developers, which is a joint venture between the sports personality and the firm.

According to Eureka Mobile Advertising’s senior vice president Ganapathy Viswanathan, the move won’t see any impact on his brand fees. “I do not see his brand value being affected. For the simple reason that at the end of the day, cricket has become an entertainment-based game. He is still in the exciting part of the game like ODIs and Twenty20s.  Therefore, I do not see his brand value being diluted. Maybe, it will not go up phenomenally, but it will remain stable.”

GroupM ESP India entertainment sports and live events national director Vinit Karnik, on the other hand, opines that Dhoni’s brand value will not be impacted in the short term this year, as he will still be playing the game’s marquee events like the World Cup and the Indian Premiere League (IPL). “But subsequently, in 2016, there could be an impact. Post 2015, there will definitely be some correction, even if he does well at the World Cup.”

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