After smashing India to cricket World Cup victory, batsmen Yuvraj Singh and Gautam Gambhir may see a 30 percent jump in earnings as companies including BP Plc (BP/) and Canon Inc. (7751) vie for their endorsements.
India’s vanquishing of neighbor Sri Lanka in the competition’s April 2 final came 28 years after it last lifted the trophy and prompted Sonia Gandhi, leader of the ruling Congress party, to join flag-waving crowds celebrating in New Delhi. Witnessed by billionaire Mukesh Ambani and the presidents of both nations in a Mumbai stadium, the victory may spur more companies to use team captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni and his men to sell everything from insurance to herbal drugs in Asia’s fastest growing major economy after China.
The players’ surge in income “will be significant if they stay involved and consistent,” said Harish Krishnamachar, vice- president at World Sports Group that manages the portfolio of Sachin Tendulkar, the world’s most prolific batsman. “The valuations of some of the players may go up by 30 percent.”
Yuvraj Singh, named player of the tournament, endorses Reebok and Birla Sun Life Insurance Co. His annual fee just jumped to 60 million rupees ($1.3 million) from 45 million rupees before the event, said Bunty Sajdeh, chief executive officer of Cornerstone Sports and Entertainment, which manages his portfolio.
A record 67.6 million of India’s 1.2 billion people watched the final between India and Sri Lanka, according to Audience Measurement & Analytics Pvt. India became the first host nation to win the event after Dhoni hit the winning runs with a six, sending fans into a frenzy.
Dhoni last year signed at least 550 million rupees of three-year deals with United Breweries Ltd. (UBBL), the maker of Kingfisher beer, and cell-phone maker Maxx Mobile Communications Ltd., according to Rhiti Sports, which manages his portfolio. Dhoni also backs PepsiCo Inc.’s cola and food products as well as Sony Corp. (6758)’s televisions.
“The viewership reached a level where it can be compared to the biggest television events across the world,” Jiniti Shah, vice-president at Audience Measurement & Analytics Pvt. said. The fact that cricket’s following in the sub-continent is rising “is going to benefit the sporting fraternity.”
U.S. football’s Super Bowl tournament averaged 111 million viewers, News Corp. (NWSA)’s Fox said in a statement on Feb. 7.
The match in Mumbai swung from one team to the other as Sri Lanka’s batsmen recovered from their worst start in the tournament to finish strongly before India, which lost Virender Sehwag to the second ball and national hero Tendulkar for 18, came back to win under floodlights. They were just the third team in nine finals to win batting second.
Fans hit the streets bursting firecrackers, playing dholaks, which are double-sided drums used during celebrations in north India, and honked car horns well past midnight. Team members carried Tendulkar, who appeared in his sixth World Cup tournament, for a victory lap around the ground.
All the team members were photographed with the trophy in front of the iconic Gateway of India the following day after meeting Indian President Pratibha Patil.
Gambhir’s 97 runs in the final helped him rise four places to 10th in the Reliance ICC Player Rankings for batsman in the one-day version of the sport, according to an International Cricket Council statement. Yuvraj Singh rose to the 4th rank for all-rounders, according to the statement.
“In the short term cricket will be able to have a significant impact and we will leverage on that with our association,” Giriraj Bagri, chief marketing officer, Castrol India Ltd. (CSTRL), BP’s unit, said in an interview today. “We will consider getting young cricketers on board.”
Four years ago after India’s exit in the first round of the tournament, companies including Videocon Industries Ltd. replaced Dhoni with Bollywood actor Shahrukh Khan to help sell its appliances.
Tendulkar, 37, endorses Castrol’s products, which are also backed by soccer players including David Beckham and Cristiano Ronaldo. He is also the brand representative for Tokyo-based Canon, the world’s largest maker of cameras.
The Japanese company is counting on Tendulkar and cricket to triple the number of its stores to 300 by the end of 2012 in the South Asian country, said Alok Bharadwaj, a vice president at its India unit. “Our association is going to help us reach our target customers faster,” he said.
Most of the new requests for endorsements will come from “sunrise industries and the real estate sectors” said V.P. Sathyamurthy, president and chief operating officer of Lintas Media Group.
About 67.3 million people in India watched the semi final duel between India and Pakistan on March 30, according to Audience Measurement & Analytics. Reliance Infrastructure Ltd. (RELI), controlled by billionaire Anil Ambani, declared a holiday for its staff that day, while his brother Mukesh’s Reliance Industries Ltd. (RIL) awarded employees a half-day off to “cheer the Indian team to victory,” according to a company e-mail.
The increase in popularity for players is a concern for Bajaj Auto Ltd. (BJAUT), India’s second-largest motorcycle maker, which doesn’t use cricketers to advertise its vehicles.
Players “endorse all my competitors,” Bajaj Auto’s Managing Director Rajiv Bajaj told reporters in Mumbai after India’s semifinal match with Pakistan on March 30. “It will make competition very tough for us because it seems that people buy whatever cricketers tell them to buy.”
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