New Delhi:Payment and technology company Mastercard on Wednesday announced the appointment of cricketer Mahendra Singh Dhoni as its brand ambassador. Dhoni is the company’s second celebrity face in addition to Bollywood actor Irrfan Khan.
Earlier this year, Mastercard launched a marketing campaign featuring Irrfan Khan, which showcased the convenience of using digital transactions. Around 95% retail payments in India are still in cash and this presents a scope for growth of digital payments beyond the metros.
As part of the new partnership, Mastercard will leverage Dhoni’s mass following to promote its cash-to-digital campaign to drive debit card usage in Tier II and Tier III cities. The campaign, which will be launched in October, will educate consumers and merchants about the convenience, wide acceptance, and safety and security features of debit cards.
“In Mahendra Singh Dhoni, Mastercard has found another partner, in addition to Irrfan Khan, who reflects the drive we share for a less-cash India. The association highlights a distinct combination of Mastercard’s commitment to take digital payments to the last mile. Dhoni’s influence will be key to triggering a behavioral shift among those who still prefer cash or have some misconceptions about digital transactions," said Porush Singh, division president, South Asia, Mastercard.
According to celebrity managers, Dhoni’s brand endorsement deals can be in the range of ₹ 3-10 crore, depending on the size of the company he is associated with and the size and duration of the contract.
Arun Pandey, chairman, Rhiti Sports, which manages Dhoni’s commercial engagements, said, “Market leaders and innovators are best placed to execute campaigns which take the industry to the next level. The idea of Mastercard partnering with Dhoni to further the cause of a cashless India is very appealing."
Currently, the cricketer endorses an array of brands across categories, including Exide Life Insurance, Orient Fans, smartphone maker Lava International, automobile firm TVS Motors, liquor brand McDowell’s No. 1, SRMB Steel, and health supplement brand Revital H.
Dhoni’s 11-year-long association with PepsiCo India ended in 2016 and he has also been replaced by Indian captain Virat Kohli as the face of GSK-owned malt-based health food drink brand Boost. In January 2017, Dhoni stepped down as India captain from both the 50-over and 20-over formats, paving the way for Kohli to take over as the captain.