Will marketers now woo KKR?

01 Jun,2012


By Tuhina Anand


They have pocketed the trophy, and as celebrations continue, one wonders if Kolkata Knight Riders’ (KKR) win will help them in upping their brand value. There is a direct relation with success in any sport and for a sportsperson, and how suddenly the sportsperson becomes the flavour of the season.


Mind you, it’s just season, meaning a good series and one might bag few endorsements here and there, but offers from bigger brands don’t come pouring in unless you are the one on whom marketers can bet their monies for long-term. And in KKR’s win, the case gets even more complex as the players are completely overshadowed by the owner who is a super star, Shahrukh Khan. Though one might frown at his shenanigans, the truth is that people still like to know what SRK did when KKR won and not what Gautam Gambhir, Manoj Tiwary, Manvinder Bisla or Yusuf Pathan did as they lifted the trophy. Not to forget that co-owner Juhi Chawla too brings in a bit of star element to the show.


Harish Bijoor

Harish Bijoor, Brand expert & CEO, Harish Bijoor Consults Inc felt that from the lot, the one darling face that will emerge for endorsements will not be of any cricketer from KKR, not the team KKR, but the owner, Shahrukh Khan. He said: “I think this win and the subsequent hype and hoopla will benefit Shahrukh on the endorsement circuit for sure. It is a great boost at a much needed time for him. In many ways, in a completely diametrically opposite manner, what Satyamev Jayate is doing for Aamir Khan, IPL does for Shahrukh. Odious, but true!”


Bijoor also pointed out that both SRK and Juhi Chawla will gain in terms of brand value, however the gain will be more for SRK than Juhi.


However, Indranil Das Blah, Chief Operating Officer, Kwan Entertainment & Marketing Solutions has a different take on SRK and Juhi’s rise in brand value. His opinion is that it’s highly unlikely that both the owners would gain in terms of brand endorsements as he points that the triumph was on the pitch, and if anyone will see a rise in brand value, it will be the players, and not the team owners. Jagdeep Kapoor, MD, Samsika Marketing Consultants too agreed: “I don’t think the owners will gain as they are known for performances on screen and off-field. People who will benefit are those who have performed on field and off-screen.”


Indranil Das Blah

So who is the KKR player who will gain most after the win? Manish Porwal, Managing Director, Alchemist Talent Solutions rightly pointed that the KKR skipper Gautam Gambhir will be the winner here: “Gambhir has shown that he is consistent, delivers and is a leader. Having played on the national level, he already is a known name and with some murmur on him being seen as potential TeamI ndia captain, his brand value will definitely rise. Brands that have used Sachin Tendulkar and MS Dhoni in the past and want a younger icon, Gambhir fits the bill perfectly.”


Mr Porwal also pointed that Gambhir does not have a flamboyant personality and has been fairly neutral in his approach which might be an added advantage for brands wanting to hook him.


A similar view is voiced by Mr Blah: “The one player who will probably get quite a few new offers from marketers would be the KKR captain, Gautam Gambhir. Not only was he amongst the most successful batsman of the IPL and led from the front, but he also stood out as a captain. He is now being talked about as a future Indian captain and that is bound to have a positive impact on his brand value.”


So while Gambhir emerges as a winner here, especially because of his personality traits like stability and performance, he could be a good catch for young MNCs or for financial and banking clients.


However, brands will definitely fall for for KKR team members like Bisla who shone in the IPL. As far as other players are concerned, they may get a couple of regional or local endorsements but nothing on a national scale unless they are actively and constantly playing for the Indian team. “You need to be playing international cricket and be constantly in the media eye for a brand to want you as a brand ambassador; just performing in the IPL for two months out of 12 won’t result in endorsements. Examples from past IPLs include players like Swapnil Asnodakar and Paul Valthaty who performed brilliantly in the IPL but couldn’t sustain their forms and hence, didn’t get any endorsements,” added Mr Blah.


But Mr Kapoor of Samsika has found another ace for marketers. He picks Sunil Narine and thinks that he would benefit from the win and from his excellent bowling performance and get endorsement offers as a thinking, clever, successful sportsman.


While Mr Bijoor is not too optimistic about KKR future with marketers, he says that the problem with sports fervour and fever is that it is short-lived. Sporting success such as the one achieved by KKR diminishes very fast. With the next cricket tournament round the corner, everything will be forgotten rather swiftly, therefore the potential to leverage is really a mirage.Indiahas a surfeit of cricket as of now.


Rahul Jauhari

Some see rise in brand value for SRK or Juhi Chawla, others have pointed that Gambhir will gain the most, however, Rahul Jauhari, National Creative Director, Everest Brand Solutions has a slightly different take: “I have largely a pessimistic view on the rise in brand value for KKR team and its owners and its future with marketers. IPL is not the same as the World Cup, so the passions are divided and not national in its strength. Bisla should benefit post IPL, but I think it’s too early to say he can be the next darling for brand endorsements. The fan following post IPL is largely limited and regional. He could be rocking in Kolkata, but not in Chennai.”


“Somewhere I feel the KKR win has been sadly overshadowed. It’s been played out as SRK win, not a KKR win, be it in terms of media bytes, attention or simply footage consumed. SRK’s brand value is already high. The IPL isn’t going to push it up. In a rather pessimistic view, I’d say the IPL has dented his image. I didn’t like the SRK I saw during this IPL. And a lot of people think the same way,” concluded Jauhari.


However Mr Blah of Kwan feels that KKR has managed to establish itself as a successful brand.  He said: “Nothing succeeds like success. The team previously had all the trappings of a successful brand (star players, influential and high profile owners, a tremendous and diverse fan base and a plethora of sponsors). The main ingredient they were missing was success. Now they have that and it will have a direct and positive impact on how the team is perceived. As defending champions, they should be able to command a premium when they are out scouting for sponsors for IPL 6.”


Mr Kapoor concluded: “KKR is a successful brand and would attract more advertisers. They can be a bigger brand if they show great performances on the field, rather than off the field.”


Photograph: Fotocorp


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