Anil Thakraney: Er, any chance of endorsement deals for Anand?

01 Jun,2012

By Anil Thakraney


The man has won the world chess championship title for the fifth time. And in my opinion, he’s now entitled to nothing less than the Bharat Ratna. (Sachin deserved what he got… a hot seat in the Parliament.) Also, Vishwanathan Anand is not just a regular world beater, he also happens to be a very nice, decent human being, who lives his life with great integrity and endearing simplicity. Doesn’t that sound like a good enough qualification for advertisers to be queuing up outside his Chennai house, armed with lucrative contracts?


Now, I admit it is possible that Anand has done the odd brand deal in a very long and a very illustrious career. But usually he gets ignored, when even second rung cricketers like Kohli, the Pathan brothers and Rohit Sharma have been bagging loaded deals. Marketers would justify this by claiming that cricket is a passion inIndiaand chess is not. And that cricket is a spectator sport and chess is not. And I have no arguments with that per se.


However, it is equally true that Anand would make for an ideal brand ambassador for certain types of products… brands that promise mental strength and stamina, and brands that target sophisticated audiences, the so-called ‘creamy layer’. And there are plenty of these in the market. Health drinks and foods. High-end watches. Luxury cars. Premium suiting. I could go on. And yet, these brands opt for either movie stars or cricketers, that too at a price far higher than what Anand might possibly charge.


It gets more curious when you consider that casting Anand would help these brands smash the clutter. If Dhoni stands for 25 brands, he stands for nothing in my mind. I’d rather have Anand endorsing one, because he gives me the differentiation. Simple advertising logic.


Here’s why I think Anand gets ignored, despite strong marketing rationale working in his favour: Our brand managers tend to be risk averse, and they usually try to play safe. Okay, let me put it impolitely: They want to cover their backsides by opting for the tried and tested Dhonis and SRKs of the world. So if things go wrong, the boss won’t blame the manager. These safe suits consider Anand to be a high risk proposition. Therefore in reality, the problem doesn’t lie with chess or with Anand, it lies in the heads of our brand managers.


And I am hoping to see this change. At least this time. Fifth time world championship is simply superlative stuff.


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PS: Very interesting. Ten ads that got theUKreally angry. Controversial ads that invited the most number of complaints. Methinks time has come to list down the top ten ads that got Indians really pissed off.




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