The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Gabba doubles the moolah

A new Brand India deserves a new ambassador. And who better than captain, Team India, Sourav ‘144’ Ganguly'

The aggressive go-getter, brimming with confidence, who can’t be kept down. At least for now.

Post-Brisbane, Bengal’s favourite son has become the nation’s second favourite star, and advertisers and agencies feel that the captain’s feisty image has India bowled.

The numbers prove that the Ganguly stock is better than bullish. On the offside, there’s god and then there’s Sourav, as Rahul Dravid famously put it. As a product endorser, there’s cricket’s god (Sachin, of course) and then there’s Sourav.

The skipper has, apparently, recently signed a five-year contract for endorsements with a management agency worth around Rs 60 crore, a huge jump from his previous contract, rumoured to be worth less than Rs 30 crore.

While this is nowhere near Sachin Tendulkar, who signed on the dotted line guaranteeing Rs 100 crore in endorsements, advertising professionals still believe Sourav’s popularity may be closing the gap.

“After the 144, the reaction to Sourav seems to be uniform nationally. Previously, fans outside Bengal would concentrate on his negatives. But that has now reversed and he is seen with love and pride,” feels Ram Ray.

While a few bad performances on the field could have changed public percep- tion before, now, things may be different after the first century against the Aussies, Ray adds.

“If you see a Sachin ad after he gets out for duck or scores poorly, its ok because you know he will come back. This is now true with Sourav to some extent,” observes the ad veteran heading Response.

The risk factor of a bad match can be buffered by shifting the emphasis from the game to the man.

Kiran Khalap of Chlorophyll points out that Sachin can add value for advertisers “as a performer versus a brilliant man with humility”.

Similarly, Sourav can be seen either as a cricketer or as “Sourav Ganguly, the new spirit of India”. So far, Khalap feels that no ad (Sourav has been the face of Pepsi, Hero Honda, Airtel and Emami) has capitalised on Sourav the Man.

But Sourav loyalists are still happily coming back for more. Emami had used him for two ads of the Sona Chandi Chyawanprash campaign through its Rs 45-crore contract with the Cricket Association of Bengal.

“Three months ago, we signed on only Sourav for a two-year contract,” says Aditya Agarwal of Emami. But Agarwal, a firm believer in brand Sourav, doesn’t feel the Gabba knock has changed things.

“This is not the first time he has scored a century. The ups and the downs are all a part of the game,” he adds.

This surge, however, could be gone faster than you could say “duck”.

“You are only as good as your last innings,” warns Arun Lal. But the former cricketer is glowing in his praise for Ganguly’s charisma.

“He has phenomenal bra- nd value. He is the new-age Indian, a go-getter and aggress- ive, full of self-belief and determination. He has proved that he can bounce back and is a terrific role model for youngsters,” Lal said.

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