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Volume 7 No. 149

Marketing and Sponsorship

Virat Kohli has courted controversy with his comments but his brand has remained strong throughout.
Photo: GETTY IMAGES
Virat Kohli has courted controversy with his comments but his brand has remained strong throughout.
Photo: GETTY IMAGES
Virat Kohli has courted controversy with his comments but his brand has remained strong throughout.
Photo: GETTY IMAGES

Being the highest-profile athlete in the world’s second-most populous country, India cricket captain Virat Kohli has "built such a formidable brand across the spectrum that even his occasional brash and indiscreet comments fail to tarnish it," according to Amlan Chakraborty of REUTERS. Watches, cars, sports shoes, motorbikes, clothes, ride services, tires, snacks, health foods, headphones -- even toothbrushes -- "they have all had the Kohli marketing treatment." The 30-year-old cricketer with tattooed arms and coiffured hair currently endorses 21 brands including Tissot, Audi, Puma, Uber and Hero, pushing him into the Forbes’ '18 list of the world’s 100 highest-paid athletes. On the back of his estimated $24M income over the previous 12 months, Kohli is the "world's top earning cricketer." He has a "strong social media presence" with over 37 million fans on Facebook and is followed by more than 25 million on Instagram and 27.1 million on Twitter. Kohli biographer Vijay Lokapally said, "He speaks his mind, takes stands, interacts on social media -- all of it goes well with his fans." His sponsors "have had a bumpy ride at times." Sports marketing firm Baseline Managing Dir Tuhin Mishra 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." Mishra said that Kohli's appeal has "evolved." He added, "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" (REUTERS, 11/27).

B9 Beverages, the maker of Bira 91 beer, on Wednesday signed a five-year global partnership with the Int'l Cricket Council, "making it the first Indian beverage brand to strike a global sponsorship deal with the cricket governing body," according to Saumya Tewari of LIVE MINT. Sports marketing experts estimate the size of Bira 91’s sponsorship deal to be $5M-$6M per year. ICC’s global partners, such as carmaker Nissan, smartphone maker Oppo, MRF Tyres and Emirates Airlines are estimated to be paying from $6M-$8M a year. As an official partner, Bira 91 will have a "comprehensive presence" through its range of products (beer, including non-alcoholic beer, and hot sauce) across broadcast, digital and on-ground activations of all ICC global tournaments, including the 2019 World Cup, T20 World Cup, World Test Championship, U19 World Cup and Women’s World Cup. Bira will leverage the upcoming ICC World Cup scheduled to be hosted by England and Wales next year "as it looks to make inroads" in the U.K. market. B9 Beverages Founder & CEO Ankur Jain said, "This partnership is aligned with our aspiration of becoming a global brand coming out of India" (LIVE MINT, 11/28).

German automaker Audi added a pair of football esports franchises to its portfolio of endorsement deals, FIFA squad Fokus Clan and 2nd Bundesliga club Ingolstadt 04’s esports team, according to Max Miceli of THE ESPORTS OBSERVER. As a part of a three-year deal with Fokus Clan, the Stark eSports-managed team "will be provided a specially branded Audi Q7 e-tron car" with a PlayStation 4 for the next six months to promote the partnership with a series of planned activities. Audi’s logo will also be featured on team apparel and its social media. Audi joins Fokus Clan as the team’s second sponsor, "following German potato and kettle chip company funny-frisch." Additionally, Audi will work with FIFA pros managed by Stark eSports who play for Ingolstadt's developing team. Audi's involvement in Ingolstadt's esports initiatives "will be done in conjunction with Munich-based electronics retailer Media Markt." Audi and Media Markt currently serve as the club's main partners (TEO, 11/28).

RAZER WILLIAMS F1: Miceli also reported Razer announced a long-term sponsorship of Formula 1 franchise Williams Esports. The deal, which marks Razer’s first with a pro F1 organization, "will see the gaming brand provide Williams with peripherals as well as gaming laptops." In addition, Razer will collaborate with Williams to develop technology, including the brand’s HyperSense property, "to further improve the immersive aspects of race simulations" (TEO, 11/27).

For more coverage of the business of esports, visit our partners, esportsobserver.com.

Ahead of the 2018 Women’s Handball European Championships, hosted by France and running from Thursday-Dec. 16, adidas unveiled new jerseys for the French women’s national team. The team will wear the jerseys through '20. The jersey will retail for €80 ($90), and adidas is also offering fans a practice jersey and lifestyle jersey to purchase (SPORTBUZZ BUSINESS, 11/28).

Sina Sports signed an agreement with Samsung as an official partner for the Sina Elite League int'l 3x3 basketball invitational tournament. Samsung will introduce its new product, the Galaxy A9s smartphone, at the tournament to be held from Dec. 15-17 at M Space of Wukesong Arena in Beijing (Sina Sports). 

U.K. bookmaker Betfred replaced BetVictor as the new title sponosor of darts' World Matchplay tournament. The three-year agreement with the Professional Darts Corp. will result in the event being named the Betfred World Matchplay, with prize money increasing to a record £700,000 ($900,000) (GAMING INTELLIGENCE, 11/28).

Atlético Madrid and Nibank, a bank based in the Dominican Republic and Antigua & Barbuda, partnered to develop payment instruments for the club and strengthen the relationship with the fans in the region. The agreement is for four years (Atlético Madrid).

One of National League side Chesterfield's main sponsors "will not be renewing" its deal due to "frustrations" with the club's on- and off-field issues. GF Tomlinson, which sponsors the big screen at the Proact and the club's kit, was also disappointed by the lack of "reciprocal opportunities" it felt would come from the relationship (DERBYSHIRE TIMES, 11/28).