Dhoni’s ad Journey from Mysore Sandal Soap to TVS

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The retirement of Mahendra Singh Dhoni from international cricket may have disappointed fans but not commercials. Experts say the universal appeal of Dhoni will keep pulling brands off the pitch. Here’s a snapshot of the action-packed brand journey on Captain Cool.

Early Days

The first marketing contract Dhoni made wasn’t for a beer brand or a sports shoe. It was a famous brand of soap, Mysore Sandal Soap, for Karnataka Soaps and Detergents Ltd. (KSDL). Nevertheless, the relationship soon ended when he was given legal notice by the organization and his contract was terminated. Their reason: The cricketer didn’t give the brand sufficient time. Dhoni had managed to win the long-drawn legal battle. He said he had appeared for the scheduled ad shoot but KSDL cancelled because their managing director was not present, a media report said.

 The Brand Math

Last year, Dhoni was among the top endorsers for e-commerce and consumer durables brands, as estimated by AdEx India and Tam Media Research. In addition, between January and November 2019 he had endorsed more brands than any other celebrity.

Dhoni currently endorses over 30 brands including Gulf Oil, TVS, GoDaddy, Pokerstars, redBus, Coca-Cola’s Powerade sports drink, and many others.

He also made investments in online companies including Cars24, Dream11 and others.

Four years ago, Rhiti Sports Management, a company owned by Arun Pandey and Dhoni, launched a healthy lifestyle brand called Seven.

Running into controversies

Dhoni was given a legal notice in 2017 for sponsorship of two rival fitness chains. While Dhoni had a deal with Sportsfit World, he agreed to endorse Fit7, too.

Real estate-company Amrapali Group launched more than 40 projects in Delhi NCR between 2010 and 2016, using Dhoni to attract buyers in its advertising. These projects were realized by 42,000 homebuyers in 2018 as a scam and filed petitions in various legal forums including the apex court. Dhoni landed in this controversy after an audit report submitted to the Supreme Court claimed that among those used by Amrapali to unlawfully divert the fund were companies connected to the cricketer and his aunt, Sakshi Dhoni. The charges, however, were denied.

WHEN ‘CAPTAIN COOL (DHONI)’ MET ‘ANGRY YOUNG MAN (Big B)’

“Everybody around Mahi has a fan-story. Yet I was blessed to see Mahi enjoying a fan moment. Two fans meet their respective icons at the sets of our new ‘Hum banaye jo aapka dil chahe’ campaign shoot. Captain Cool met Angry Young Man for the very first time . Two Indian legends who had enjoyed each other’s craft appreciated each other and their bonhomie was so genuine and affectionate. Far from the high-strung TVC shoots atmosphere, it was a whole different atmosphere – warm and witty, self-assured yet compassionate, confident yet respectful. Among the new shiny motorbikes, we saw in the art of being a legend a double master-class”, said Aniruddha Haldar, vice president (marketing) commuter motorcycles, scooters & corporate brand, TVS Motor Company, on Mahi’s starstruck moment.

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