P Madhavan is an elated man. With TVS Srichakra’s brand, TVS Eurogrip, being the principal sponsor of the Chennai Super Kings (CSK), its victory in the finals, he expects, will buoy brand recall, awareness and consideration scores for its tyre brand and ultimately be good for business.

The TVS group company had signed up as CSK’s sponsor last year though it was disappointing as the team didn’t make the playoffs. “We were disappointed, but not worried if we had made the right decision as we know that CSK with Dhoni is a team that knows how to win,” says Madhavan, EVP, Sales & Marketing, TVS Srichakra.

But, last year — it was post-Covid, there were no crowds in the grounds — Eurogrip could not do its dealer and sales persons’ engagements with the team. “We couldn’t maximise the partnership. But, this year, our brand was out there in front of crores of people in the stadiums and on TV. I expect our awareness and consideration scores will spike up sharply. The CSK rub-off on our brand will be immense,” he says. The brand ran contests, gave away jerseys and other co-branded merchandise.

CSK has helped Eurogrip catapult. It launched the new brand Eurogrip in end-2019, but the Covid breakout put paid to brand promotion. “Covid disrupted our plans and now we are making up for lost time and fast track some of the things we wanted to do that we couldn’t. Two months of IPL gives us high OTS (opportunities to see); tyres are a ‘grudge’ purchase in a crisis, and we have to be right up there in the consideration set when a consumer is buying,” explains Madhavan.

ITC created a huge whistle for the IPL to take forward the ‘whistle podu’ campaign

ITC created a huge whistle for the IPL to take forward the ‘whistle podu’ campaign

The CSK rub-off has also immensely benefited ITC’s brand, Sunfeast Super Milk, that it launched in December 2022 for the Tamil Nadu market. Ali Harris Shere, COO, Biscuits, ITC, says this biscuit was a perfect brand fit with CSK. It was projected as a ‘strong’ milk biscuit and the brand tied up with many influencers, the fans who made up the ‘whistle podu’ army, and it created a whole anthem around the fans.

In April-May — the IPL months — the brand saw a 40 per cent jump in sales over March 2023. The brand even created a huge whistle which it took on an open truck from Chennai to Coimbatore and had a campaign in that city as well.

Legendary Dhoni

With the CSK taking the IPL 2023 trophy, Dhoni’s legendary status in the tournament will soar even more.

Analysts point out that by getting access to CSK, many brands have been getting access to Dhoni, who commands a high valuation. According to the Celebrity Brand Valuation Study 2022 by Kroll, Dhoni’s brand valuation was pegged at $80.3 million in 2022 and was ranked sixth with an estimated 36 endorsements. This was up from about $61.2 million in 2021.

“MS Dhoni is a cricketing legend today. Owing to his likeability as a performer both on and off-field, he continues to build his brand portfolio. He continues to score across industry segments with his personal brand positioning of being cool and reliable, and a massive social media following of more than 75 million followers. His retirement (when that happens) may not impact his ‘timeless’ brand,” says Aviral Jain, Managing Director, Valuation Advisory Services, Kroll.

Brand Finance, in its IPL 2022 report of the most valuable IPL brands of the year, values CSK at $73.6 million, behind Mumbai Indians ($83 m) and KKR ($76.8 m).

Ajimon Francis, MD, India, Brand Finance, said, “Brand CSK will have a big jump in brand value due to multiple levers — prize money won is huge, new advertiser interest, better gate revenues, higher share from central pool of sponsors and better fan engagement activations.”

Revenues may zoom

CSK had garnered a total revenue of ₹349 crore in FY22 compared with ₹254 crore in FY21. It garnered sponsorship income of ₹65 crore in FY22 as against ₹60 crore in FY21, while other tournament-related income was at ₹34 crore compared with ₹3 crore. It registered a profit after tax of ₹32 crore in FY22 as against ₹40 crore in FY21. Since IPL 2023 has been a full-fledged season for the first time since 2020, CSK’s total revenue is projected to be significantly higher for FY24.

Santosh N, Managing Director, D&P Advisory, believes the recent win by CSK will have a positive rub-off effect on the commercial aspects of the team while valuation will see an uptick. He adds that it will put CSK in a better negotiation position for future commercial agreements. “But one also needs to see what’s next for CSK after Dhoni. We may not see him beyond one more season. It’s important to note that a significant portion of fan following across the country that CSK enjoys is largely because of Dhoni. It will be interesting to see whether that fan base continues to support CSK and how this aspect evolves,” he says. Though, as TVS Srichakra’s Madhavan says, Dhoni will definitely continue to be engaged with CSK for a long time to come.

(With inputs from G Balachandar)