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Volume 7 No. 149
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Virat Kohli's 'Frankness' Has Not Hindered His Powerful Brand

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).