New Delhi: Celebrity management and communications major Percept Holdings will make India’s wicketkeeper-batsman Mahendra Singh Dhoni an offer that he has “never heard of before”, the company’s joint managing director Shailendra Singh said, hours after the team’s new skipper was announced.
“He’s a youth icon, India is poised to be the youngest nation, 90% of television commercials are targeted at the youth…He’s hot property,” Singh said. “It’s a sexy position to be in, how much sexier does it get?”
Youth icon: The newly appointed captain of the Indian cricket team endorses 12 products with youth appeal, including Brylcreem hair gel
Dhoni, 26, was appointed captain of the Indian cricket team—a post some say is next in importance only to the Prime Minister’s—for next month’s home one-day series against Australia, after Rahul Dravid called it quits last week, and former captain Sachin Tendulkar declined to take up the mantle again. India’s selectors are yet to appoint a captain for the test team.
Percept, which also represents former captain Sourav Ganguly, reckons Dhoni’s brand value has crossed the Rs1 crore mark overnight, and plans to capitalize on it. “I’ll send him an email with an offer this evening, I’m serious,” Singh said after the Board of Control for India press conference in Mumbai on Tuesday afternoon.
Percept’s overtures may result in a showdown with Kolkata-based Gameplan Sports, which currently represents Dhoni. He is believed to command between Rs40 lakh and Rs60 lakh per endorsement, earning Rs5 crore annually.
Dhoni, with his rock star flowing hair, endorses 12 products that include the Exide car battery, Speed petrol, TVS motorcycle and Brylcreem hair gel, most products with youth appeal.
Though Dhoni’s chances were being discussed in the past few days along with Tendulkar and Ganguly’s, he hasn’t yet begun to attract new sponsors, Gameplan managing director Jeet Banerjee said.
“His appointment is only for one series, sponsors don’t jump for one series,” Banerjee said. It’s a media hype, he said, explaining that sponsors take a long-term perspective of a player’s performance and his appeal among fans before making a commitment. Dhoni, despite his good looks and captaincy, might have to wait.
Interestingly, Percept’s Singh believes Dhoni is not mature enough to lead the senior side, and “needed hand-holding” for some time. At the same time, he said this was the “whole trick that youth have”, they take two years to reach a position that took stars such as Tendulkar, Dravid and Ganguly a decade.
This translates into hard figures as well: at Rs1 crore per contract, as valued by Singh, Dhoni ought to be earning Rs12 crore annually from his 12 endorsements—on a par with Ganguly, a shade below Dravid’s reported value of Rs15 crore, though much below Tendulkar’s Rs20 crore.
He’s the hottest cricket property around currently, said Singh, hopeful of signing up India’s latest poster boy.
“Everything depends on how he’s marketed,” he said. Singh said the player’s contract with Gameplan ran out in end-November, but Banerjee disputed the claim.
“Dhoni’s contract (with us) has a long, long way to go,” he said.