It has launched Three Stripes cricket goods by getting the Adidas logo on the highest run-making bat in world cricket. And wealthy is the hand that wields the bat. Sporting a logo on it fetches crores.
When Sachin Tendulkar walked out to bat against New Zealand in the Compaq Cup Tri-series in Sri Lanka last month, there was something very conspicuously different: his bat.
After years of wearing the MRF logo, the maestro’s bat now has Adidas emblazoned on it. ET has learnt that Sachin’s multi-year bat endorsement deal (including that of apparel and footwear) has been inked for close to Rs 3.5-Rs 4 crore (US $1 million) per year.
The Incurza Range bat designed specially with inputs from the master blaster has a blade whose extended and raised middle and contoured edges put depth where it’s needed: superb driving power. Just what the accomplished Sachin, who plays with the straightest bat, asked for.
“Sachin Tendulkar has been a part of the Adidas family for over 11 years and our association has now extended into a lifetime relationship,“ says Adidas India MD Andreas Gellner.
“Sachin is a living legend and we could not have chosen a more accomplished athlete to endorse the Cricket hardware range,” he added. According to Harish Krishnamachari, vice-president, World Sports Group which manages Sachin’s endorsements, the new deal is a natural extension for Sachin who has had a long standing relationship with the sports major.
”It was about taking the association with the sports brand to the next level.” The economic slowdown forced Sachin’s earlier bat sponsor, tyre maker MRF, to look for cheaper options when their contract with him expired and Adidas pounced on the opportunity. “We had an extremely fruitful association with Sachin since we signed him during thirteen of his prime playing years,” a senior MRF official told ET on condition of anonymity.
“The situation is not so good that we keep on spending on cricket and so post his contract, Sachin was free to approach other corporates,” he added . The company has now signed Gautam Gambhir and Rohit Sharma as its brand ambassadors.
According to Bunty Sajdeh, CEO of Cornerstone Sport and Entertainment that manages a total of 15 Indian cricketers including Yuvraj Singh, Suresh Raina and Rohit Sharma, sponsors always look for fresh talent that they can bank on for long term returns.
It is in this light that MRF approached Rohit Sharma for a three-year deal of Rs 3 crore, a figure that Sajdeh refused to confirm. “About fifteen years ago, they could have bagged Sachin also for a much lesser price than today,” he added.
The race to sign on players’ bats began in 2005, when Nike bought the rights to become the official kit suppliers for the Indian cricket team and outbid rivals Reebok and Adidas by coughing up Rs 200 crore. That was when rival Reebok, part of the Adidas group, began signing the bat sponsorships of leading India players like Yuvraj Singh and MS Dhoni.
Bat sponsorship rates can widely wary from player to player and brand to brand. According to industry sources, while a batsman like Virat Kohli could command anywhere between Rs 25-50 lacs per year for bat sponsorships, middle rung players like Rohit Sharma and Suresh Raina ask up to Rs 75 lakh a year.