Will Retirement Affect MSD’s Brand Value and Endorsements?

Mahendra Singh Dhoni’s sudden retirement from Test Cricket after the third Test match played between India and Australia on December 30 at the Melbourne Ground evoked frowns among cricket fans all over the world. At the same time social networking sites and media buzzed with headlines and disappointment over Dhoni’s retirement. The unexpected retirement also raised many questions as to why and how he chose to retire all of a sudden. One more question that was being raised was, if Dhoni’s retirement would affect his endorsements and popularity.

Dhoni is the most celebrated and successful Indian captain and has a unique achievement of winning ODI World Cup, T20 World Cup, Champions Trophy, Indian Premier League Championship and T20 Champions League. Also, India became the top ranked Test team under his captaincy. That truly explains the title ‘Captain Cool’.

Universal brand value

We all know that Mahendra Singh Dhoni’s journey from Ranchi to Indian cricket had been resplendent with success stories as well as controversies. He succeeded in carving a niche for himself and won a million hearts with his performances. The most celebrated Indian cricket team captain earned brand value of millions of dollars. TV channels had been abuzz with advertisements starring Dhoni. Cricket icon M S Dhoni has about Rs 150 crore per year as brand value and he endorses almost 20 brands which include advertisements of big names like Pepsi, Reebok, Star Sports, Aircel, TVS Motor, Videocon etc. Dhoni has achieved a universal appeal; his image is not limited to that of ‘Captain Cool.’

Not only that, the Ranchi star is also the only Indian in Forbes’ lists of world’s most valuable athlete brands. He stands fifth in the list with a value of USD 20 million. Ahead of big sports names such as sprinter Usain Bolt, Football legends Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi, Dhoni made a deep impact.

Will stay in endorsements

The 33-year-old might have quit the Test arena but he will remain a hero in the endorsement world. He has been through a long journey and earned every bit of respect and endorsement to his name. It’s his name that sells, and it will remain the same way. To his trendy hairstyles to his moves on field, his fans keep every memory in their mind. Retirement in Tests won’t really affect his brand value. Advertisements have their contracts and time cycle which change according to popularity and performances. Advertisements for Dhoni may be different after his retirement but in no way it would go down. Gone are the days when a cricketer’s retirement finished his career overall. It’s the name and impact that matters now.

Other opportunities for Dhoni post-retirement

Also, there are numerous areas that a cricketer can look up to after retirement such as commentary, newspaper columns and newsroom experts et al. Dhoni’s illustration as a cricketer would remain the same but of course it will go through a different phase. At present, Dhoni has only quit from Test Cricket which would not affect his endorsement career. However, if he had chosen to quit from all forms of cricket — Test, ODIs and T20 – it would have affected his brand value. It’s actually a smart move by Dhoni as anyways he was a One-Day cricket and T20 player rather than a Test player. He is a player that engages his fans to watch him play but fingers are pointed at him when the team does not perform well in Test matches which in turn could impact his brand value. Talking about wealth, Captain Cool has earned sufficient capital and money should not be a cause of worry for him.

CSK is owned by India Cements Ltd, which is controlled by Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) president N Srinivasan. BCCI boss Srnivasan’s son-in-law Gurunath Meiyappan has been probed and indicted for alleged betting on IPL matches. Dhoni has escaped relatively untouched from his association with Chennai Super Kings (CSK) in the Indian Premier League (IPL) cricket tournament. Dhoni’s trajectory so far has been absolutely brilliant.

Opinions differ on Dhoni’s retirement

Dhoni’s retirement has once again brought his life and journey under focus. There are some who believe it to be disappointing while the others have doubt on this decision. It just seems confusing for some that he quit unexpectedly. Seems like a good theme for the masala-hungry Bollywood. As we know that Dhoni is no more in the Test arena, he has ample time to look for other opportunities and explore what’s best for him. But yes, he too has to concentrate on ODIs and T20 now. Eyes are set on Dhoni and India’s show in the 2015 One-Day International World Cup in Australia and New Zealand which will begin in February. The World Cup victory can be a make-or-break for Dhoni at this critical moment. The victory will bring laurels, trust and strength to him but in case he fails to perform well, many questions will be raised. The World Cup win for India could become a Dhoni win, making him stronger than ever. But if we don’t perform well, a lot of fingers will be pointed at him. He could take the blame for the fall.

Dhonis’ retirement from Test will to an extent increase chances of players like Virat Kohli bagging more endorsements. Brands may even prefer the present captain. Great performances recently paired with a relationship with Bollywood beauty Anushka Sharma has already brought him to light. Virat Kohli is being recognized as the next-best-brand in Indian cricket. To earn that name, Kohli has sweated hard on the cricket grounds and shown his best. The proof is Virat Kohli as the new Test captain. As per surveys, Dhoni’s annual fee is Rs 12 crore per brand. Followed by him, Virat Kohli gives competition to Dhoni with Rs 10 crore a brand per annum.

Diversified investments by Dhoni

Dhoni himself is diversified – Indian team Captain, Ranchi as his hometown, Captain of Indian Premier League team Chennai Super Kings, Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna awardee and married to an Uttaranchali. All these associations have brought him name and fame in all areas and made him a stronger sportsperson. Just like his diversified personality, Dhoni has diversified investments too. Besides his interest in cricket, Dhoni did not shy away in investing in his two favourite sport – football and hockey. Dhoni has secured investment in Hero Hockey India League’s Ranchi franchise. He also invested in Hero Indian Super League’s team Chennaiyan FC which is co-owned by Abhishek Bachchan and Vita Dani. He also co-owns Mahi Racing Team India with actor Nagarjuna which is a motorbike team.

The inaugural season of Bike Festival India which took place in January also chose Dhoni as its star face. Dhoni has rightly and smartly invested in other things besides cricket which will fetch him good capital even after retirement. Other deals such as the cricketer giving his face to products SportsFit, Fitsoul.com and 7 by MSD (men’s fragrance product) have also been investments.

According to recent talks, Rhiti Entertainment along with Inspired Media and Adarsh Telemedia will be producing a biopic – ‘MSD – The Untold Story’. Direction will be done by Neeraj Pandey who has also produced A Wednesday and Special 26. Sushant Singh Rajput will be playing the lead role in the film.