Virat Kohli’s brand value is likely to have gone up by 20-25% when he was appointed captain of India’s one-day international (ODI) and Twenty20 teams and it is likely to increase more, especially if his ongoing purple patch continues, said sports marketing executives.
Kohli’s brand value was pegged at $92 million, second only to Shah Rukh Khan’s at $131 million, according to an October 2016 report on India’s most valued celebrity brands published by Duff and Phelps, a global valuation and corporate finance advisory firm.
That number may have increased since. Kohli has now scored double centuries in four consecutive series (over the past six months). In 2016-17, he has scored the most Test runs by an Indian in a home Test season (1,206) with four matches to go.
If he does as well in the forthcoming home series against Australia, he will likely move ahead of Australian captain Steve Smith, who is on top of the ICC Test batsmen ranking. Kohli is at 895 points. Smith is at 933 points. The highest Sachin Tendulkar reached was 898 points. Only one Indian, Sunil Gavaskar (916) has crossed 900 points.
“Performance improves the perceived value of a brand ambassador,” said Tuhin Mishra, managing director of Baseline Ventures, a sports marketing, entertainment and licensing firm. As does position. “The moment Virat Kohli became captain of ODI and T20, his value would have gone up by 20-25% as is the norm,” he added.
Currently, Virat Kohli endorses more than 20 brands, the latest additions to his portfolio being smartphone maker Gionee and luggage maker American Tourister, among others. He was appointed goodwill ambassador for the National Democratic Alliance government’s Skill India mission in December.
“The track record of a sports player has a direct bearing on his attractiveness as a brand endorser. Given the consistent and unbeatable record of Virat Kohli, companies that want to position themselves as a market winner will definitely look to sign him on as a brand ambassador,” said Aviral Jain, director at Duff and Phelps.
“Like in the case of any product or service brand, a brand ambassador’s value goes up with better performance. Better performance means greater number of eyeballs, greater awareness and increase in acreage in print (coverage),” added Kiran Khalap, co-founder of brand and communications consultancy chlorophyll.
Kohli’s manager Bunty Sajdeh admits that the cricketer’s performance has made him more bankable. “But these records for us are more about reassurance and vindication rather than measuring how much more interest we can garner,” he added.
In the last three years, Kohli has ventured into different sports leagues (football, tennis, wrestling), launched a fashion label (Wrogn), a chain of gyms (Chisel) and a tech start-up (Sports Convo). More recently, he associated with MuveAcoustics, an audio brand in partnership with Zeeva. He has also partnered with Nazara Technologies to launch online cricket games.
“We are not far from the day when Kohli could easily be the most expensive brand ambassador in the history of endorsements in India, and justifiably so,” said Anirban Das Blah, founder and chief executive of CAA Kwan.