In the realm of the Indian Premier League (IPL), it would be logical to assume that players who excel on the field would be more likely to secure lucrative endorsements. However, a surprising number of underperforming players continue to attract high-profile endorsement deals, prompting questions about the reasoning behind these collaborations. In this opinion piece, we will explore the factors contributing to this puzzling phenomenon by examining recent advertisements, cricket statistics, and pertinent examples that illustrate why poorly performing IPL players become the automatic choice for brand endorsements.
I. The Enigma of Brand Endorsements and Poor Performances: Key Examples
Despite the expectation that better-performing players would secure more endorsements, this isn’t always the case. Consider the examples of Yuvraj Singh and Virat Kohli, both of whom have experienced slumps in form but have continued to land brand endorsements.
- Yuvraj Singh: In IPL 2018, Yuvraj Singh scored a meager 65 runs in eight matches with an average of 10.83. Despite his underwhelming performance, he continued to be a brand ambassador for various companies, including Puma and Cadbury.
- Virat Kohli: Virat Kohli’s leadership was a huge talking point during his tenure at RCB. Unfortunately, he could not take the team all the way to a title win. During his captaincy period spanning 140 games, he led RCB to victory in 66 matches while they were unable to get past 70 losses. Additionally, four matches were called off due to inclement weather.
|Virat Kohli as non-captain
|Virat Kohli as RCB Captain
Despite this dip in form, he continued to sign endorsement deals with brands like MRF and Colgate.
II. Factors Contributing to the Paradox
- Star Power and Personal Branding
In my opinion, the primary reason for this paradox is the star power and personal branding of these players. Regardless of their on-field performance, they have built a strong personal brand and fan following, making them appealing to companies seeking brand ambassadors.
- Emotional Connection with Fans
Many IPL players have an emotional connection with their fans, making them highly influential regardless of their performance. For instance, MS Dhoni’s batting average in IPL 2020 was 25.23, significantly lower than his career average of 40.99. Despite this, he remains a sought-after cricketer for endorsements due to his fan following and successful stint as the Indian cricket team captain.
- Long-term Achievements and Track Record
Brands often take a long-term perspective when signing players as brand ambassadors, focusing on their entire career rather than a specific IPL season. For example, Yuvraj Singh’s overall IPL record includes 2,750 runs in 132 matches, with a strike rate of 129.71, while Virat Kohli boasts an impressive 6,076 runs in 199 matches, with a strike rate of 130.22.
- Off-field Presence and Social Media Influence
In today’s digital age, a player’s off-field presence and social media influence play a significant role in their endorsement potential. Cricketers with massive social media followings and engaging off-field personalities are valuable assets for brands, even if their on-field performance is less than stellar.
III. Latest Advertisements Featuring Underperforming IPL Players
Several brands have collaborated with underperforming IPL players, capitalizing on their off-field appeal and fan following:
- PepsiCo and MS Dhoni: MS Dhoni, the former captain of the Indian cricket team, faced criticism for Chennai Super Kings’ poor performance in the 2020 IPL season. However, PepsiCo continued its association with Dhoni and even released a new ad campaign featuring him. The campaign, titled “swag”, featured Dhoni in a new avatar, showcasing his style and personality.
2. Virat Kohli : including a 2021 campaign for Colgate Super Flexi toothbrushes, emphasizing the importance of oral hygiene. This collaboration highlights how brands continue to leverage the star power of players like Kohli, regardless of their on-field performance.
IV. The Impact of IPL Ad Campaigns Featuring Cricketers
While IPL ad campaigns featuring cricketers have been successful in increasing brand awareness, the impact on sales is debatable. According to a study conducted by Nielsen, a market research firm, IPL ad campaigns featuring cricketers have a positive impact on brand awareness, but the impact on sales is limited. The study found that while IPL ad campaigns featuring cricketers did increase brand awareness, they did not necessarily lead to a significant increase in sales.
Moreover, there is also a concern about the authenticity of IPL ad campaigns featuring cricketers. Some brands may compromise on their authenticity to promote their products, which could lead to a loss of trust with their fans. This could impact their influence and ultimately, their value to brands.
In conclusion, the paradox of poorly performing IPL players landing lucrative brand endorsements can be attributed to several factors, including star power, personal branding, emotional connection with fans, long-term achievements, and social media influence. While on-field performance is essential, it is not the sole determinant of a player’s endorsement potential.
In my opinion, this trend highlights the need for a more holistic approach to evaluating a player’s worth as a brand ambassador. Brands must strike a balance between a player’s on-field performance and off-field appeal to maximize their marketing campaigns’ effectiveness.
Ultimately, the key to successful brand endorsements lies in leveraging the unique attributes and qualities of each player to resonate with the target audience. By taking into account their performance, personal branding, connection with fans, and social media influence, brands can make more informed decisions about their endorsement choices, ultimately optimizing their marketing efforts and connecting more meaningfully with their target audience.