Cricket fans took to Twitter and other social media platforms to express their emotions as former Team India captain MS Dhoni announced his decision to step down as the skipper of Chennai Super Kings (CSK) on March 24. One of India’s most successful captains, Dhoni had been leading the CSK side since the inception of the Indian Premier League (IPL) in the year 2008.
Dhoni, being a brand in himself, brings a lot of credibility to the table which woos the team sponsors. The movement is likely to affect the team’s brand value too, BestMediaInfo.com spoke to brand consultants to know what they think about the same.
It must be noted that, right after Dhoni’s announcement Ravinder Jadeja was declared as the new CSK captain and he took charge of the four-time IPL winning team.
Talking about the team’s brand value, post Dhoni leaving the captaincy, Samit Sinha, Founder and Managing Partner, Alchemist Brand Consulting, said, “I don’t think so we should emphasise on captaincy, Dhoni is a very valuable asset. Similarly, if you see, despite stepping down from the captaincy of the Indian cricket team from all formats, Virat Kohli’s brand value is still much higher than that of Rohit Sharma. So as long as he is a key member of the team and his performance is setting benchmarks, the brand value of the team is not affected.”
Likewise, Nisha Sampath, Managing Partner at Bright Angles Consulting LLP, said, “Time and again Dhoni had been giving hints of leaving the captaincy of the team. He is still a key member of the team, supporting Jadeja. Dhoni stepping down from the captaincy won’t have much impact but if the team doesn’t perform well under Jadeja, then it will surely impact the brand value of the team.”
Dhoni scored 50 runs off 38 with seven fours in the CSK vs KKR match on March 26, the first match of the season, which CSK lost.
Alchemist’s Sinha said that with time and age Dhoni will have to step back as a player as well like all sportsmen, but still, it might be possible that the credibility that he has created amongst the audiences will stay the same. He said,” You see people still approach players like Rahul Dravid, Kapil Dev, Sunil Gavaskar, Sourav Ganguly, so I think it will be a similar case with Dhoni.”
Talking about the fan following of CSK, Sampath says that CSK and Dhoni’s fans are very loyal, so even if the team have some downfalls, the fans will still stand by them as has been proven in the past seasons. The influence of the team and especially Dhoni is huge on the people, as per Sampath.
She said, “Dhoni is the statesman of the team. He is what Amitabh Bachchan is to Bollywood. Brands strive to have an association like this.”
CSK has multiple partnerships this year, and has signed a three-year partnership with TVS Eurogrip for displaying ads on the front side of the jersey. In total, there are around 11 sponsors and 12 partnerships this year for the team. The sponsors include - TVS Eurogrip – 3 years deal for front-jersey partnership, India Cements – back jersey partner, Gulf Oil – Associate Partner, British Empire – Associate Partner, SNJ 10000 – Associate Partner, Reliance Jio – Associate Partner, Astral Pipers – Associate Partner, Amul – Pouring Partner, Amazon Pay – Digital Partner, Aqilliz – Official Partner, Dream11 – Official Partners.
Sinha said that Dhoni is a two-time World Cup winning captain, which is a huge achievement and as a player his strategies are something everyone looks up to. The kind of shots, including the famous helicopter shot, he plays makes him a fan-favourite and is one of the key reasons why sponsors are attracted towards him. He said, “The star power or brand value is not dependent on the captaincy. It is much more dependent on how good a performer you are.”
While Sampath said, “Dhoni as a person is bigger than Dhoni as a player. He holds a place in the Army and has many brand endorsements along with a biopic made on him. This makes him a key factor for brands to invest in the team.”
Both the consultant also agreed on the point that star power or brand value is not dependent on captaincy, but on the performance of the team.