Throwback: Captain cool MS Dhoni was the king of brand deals of yesteryear, the world’s highest-paid cricketer  |  Photo Credit: BCCL
- Between January and November 2019, Dhoni has appeared in campaigns for 44 brands
- In July 2010, Dhoni signed a Rs 210 crore deal with Rhiti Sports Management to manage his endorsements and brand associations
- Dhoni made an unprecedented $26.5 million in 2010 making him the world’s richest cricketer
New Delhi: Mahendra Singh Dhoni, popularly known as ‘captain cool’ and Mahi, is arguably India’s most successful wicketkeeper-batsman, and brand ambassador to several products. The former Indina skipper has been at the centre of brand endorsement universe for over a decade now and is associated with multiple brands across categories such as Mastercard, Netmeds, Cars24, Indian Terrain, redBus, Indian Army, Panerai, Ashok Leyland, Powerade, Snickers, Dream11, Indigo Paints, and more.
Earlier this year in January, the Board of Cricket Control of India (BCCI) dropped Dhoni from their latest annual contract list for the period of October 2019 to September. The decision left Dhoni’s fans guessing whether this is the end of the career for the legendary cricketer. It is worth mentioning here that experts have constantly been speculating about the cricketer’s future after India’s exit from the 2019 World Cup semi-final.
There were concerns that the BCCI’s decision might push brand managers to think otherwise about associating with Dhoni. However, the cricketer remains the face of several brands. In fact, ITC’s instant noodle arm Sunfeast Yippee roped in Dhoni as their brand ambassador this year.
When Dhoni was the world’s highest-paid cricketer:
In 2010, Dhoni was the world’s highest-paid cricketer, according to Forbes. He captained the Chennai Super Kings to two Indian Premier League (IPL) titles in 2010, 2011, and in February 2011, he led the Indian national team to its second-ever Cricket World Cup championship. All of this success helped turn Dhoni into India’s biggest cricket celebrity. As per Forbes data, Dhoni made an unprecedented $26.5 million (about Rs 200 crore) in 2010 and only a small portion of that payout, about $3.5 million (about Rs 26.4 crore), came directly from Dhoni’s on-field play.
At that time, Dhoni has a Grade A national contract with the BCCI that pays a base salary of about $200,000 (around Rs 1.51 crore). Aside from that he also received match fees and bonuses that boosted his national pay well above $500,000 (about Rs 3.77 crore) each year. He was also among the IPL’s highest-paid players, earning about $125,000 (around Rs 94.4 lakh) per game played.
The remaining sum of $23 million (about Rs 173.6 crore) comes from his impressive list of nearly 25 endorsements, including PepsiCo, Reebok and Sony. In 2010, he became the country’s most popular television endorser, blowing away even Bollywood’s top stars. Dhoni’s net worth is approximately Rs 800 crore at present. However, there is no official data available to confirm this.
King of brand deals:
There was a time when the former India skipper was the king of brand deals and TV endorsements. Dhoni topped the chart for celebrity endorsements on television during the first six months of 2010, leaving behind megastars like Shah Rukh Khan and master blaster Sachin Tendulkar. According to the Adex survey of TAM Media Research, during the January to June period of 2010, while Dhoni endorsed brands for 24 companies on TV, Shah Rukh and Sachin were seen promoting the products of 16 and 15 companies, respectively,
During the period, the ‘captain cool’ appeared for a host of brands, including Reebok, Aircel, Godrej and TVS. In July 2010, he had signed a Rs 210 crore deal with Rhiti Sports Management and Mindscapes to manage his long list of endorsements and brand associations. The deal, the richest in Indian cricket history at that time, surpassed Sachin Tendulkar’s estimated Rs 180 crore, three-year contract with sports management firm Iconix in 2006.
Depreciating brand value:
Over the years, while the number of endorsements has remained more or less the same for the cricketing superstar, his brand value has probably taken a hit. According to a report by ESP Properties report, sports sponsorship in India grew a health 17 per cent to Rs 9,000 crore in 2019. Cricket dominated sports advertising in 2019 as 70 new brand endorsement deals took place, of which 50 were cricketers. About 85 per cent of total brand endorsements came from cricketers off which Virat Kohli and Dhoni pulled in 63 per cent.
As per AdEx India and Tam Media Research report, Dhoni left Virat Kohli behind in terms of endorsement deals under his belt as the former India skipper endorsed more brands between January and November 2019 than any other celebrity in the country. While Dhoni has appeared in campaigns for 44 brands during the period, Kohli remained a close second at 43.
However, for the period of January to March 2020, Virat Kohli regained top spot in the list. Kohli was the top sportsperson in the country associated with TV advertising. Dhoni followed close behind at number two spot. In fact, Kohli and Dhoni together accounted for 56 per cent share of endorsement by male sports personality.
Despite all this, Dhoni is nowhere in the list of world of richest athletes. On the other hand, Kohli was ranked 66th in Forbes’ World’s highest-paid athletes list 2020. He is one of just three Indian cricketers selected for the nation’s A+ contracts, which guarantee an annual salary of $1 million in 2020 and his popularity helps him earn more than $20 million annually from endorsement partners like Audi, Hero, MRF, Puma, Valvoline and more. Kohli was the only Indian in the list.
According to the Duff & Phelps Celebrity Brand Valuation study 2019, while Virat Kohli retained his position as the biggest celebrity brand in India for the third successive year, Dhoni was ranked at number nine. As per the study, in 2019, Kohli’s brand value rose by 39 per cent to $237.5 million. Dhoni came in at ninth place as the legendary finisher, who is on a sabbatical since July 2019, made a three-place jump from 2018 rank of 12.