Virat Kohli has made himself in one of the most formidable brands in the second most populous country in the world. The current Indian cricket captain endorses brands making everything from watches, cars, sports shoes, motorbikes, clothes, ride services, tires, snacks, health foods, headphones to even toothbrushes.
Kohli current endorses 21 brands including the likes of Tissot, Audi, Puma, Uber and Hero and he was recently included in Forbes’s 2018 list of the World’s 100 highest-paid athletes at no. 83 on the back of his estimated $24 million income over the previous 12 months.
According to Forbes, $20 million of his total comes from endorsements and $4 million from salary and so-called “winnings”, which would include prize money.
His ranking is ahead of the likes of tennis star Novak Djokovic and footballer Sergio Aguero. He is set to take over MS Dhoni as the highest earning sportsman ever, as Dhoni earned $31 million in 2015.
“The youth of the country – and more than half of India’s population are under 25 – can identify themselves with the man living their dream,” said Kohli biographer Vijay Lokapally.
Even on social media, Kohli has an enormous presence with over 37 million fans on Facebook and more than 25 million people following him on Instagram and 27.1 million on Twitter.
These numbers have been raked up by Kohli despite his recent slip-ups during interviews and other media. His most recent gaffe was asking a fan to leave India if he didn’t support the Indian team after the fan said that he liked batsmen of other countries more than India.
“Why are you living in our country and loving other countries? I don’t mind you not liking me but I don’t think you should live in our country…” Kohli had said.
Tuhin Mishra, managing director of sports marketing firm Baseline Ventures, said, “Such frankness can actually boost the brand, provided it aligns with the brand’s message. After all, brands also want to be seen as patriotic. Sports and Bollywood stars usually avoid controversies, but fans want their icons to have a voice.”
Kohli has a strict code to endorsing brands, with his decision to not endorse soft drinks, skin-lightening cream anymore. The new matured Kohli advocates a healthy lifestyle and comes across as a family man and a leader.
“As an aggressive youngster, he was attractive to certain brands then. As married, mature and responsible captain of the team, he is attractive to another set of brands now,” Tuhin Mishra said.
(with indianexpress.com inputs)