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Kumble fails to bowl over advertisers

October 16, 2004 14:37 IST

A day after Anil Kumble wrecked the Australian batting in Chennai, his elder brother, Dinesh Kumble, who helps the player manage some of his business interests, lamented that not many valued consistency.

"Companies need one flash in the pan. You need to be able to make a lot of noise on and off the field to be an icon," he rued.

Look at Jumbo's stats: the third fastest to reach 400 wickets in Test cricket, the only contemporary bowler to take 10 wickets in an innings, a career record better than that of Bishan Singh Bedi, Erapally Prasanna and Bhagwat Chandrashekhar.

But the pile of records has not led to companies queing up outside Kumble's house, wanting him to endorse their products.

What is more, even newcomers such as Virender Sehwag and Yuvraj Singh command a better premium in the marketplace for celebrities than Kumble.

Currently, the 34-year-old endorses just two brands, Indian Oil Corporation and Samsung, that too in a group. In the past, he has been briefly associated with Coca-Cola and the Bangalore-based apparel brand Indigo Nation.

Is the wily spinner a victim of incorrect positioning and promotion? Actually, yes. According to a leading Mumbai-based player marketer, being a bowler is a huge disadvantage in this business.

Bat stickers, which is prime real estate for advertisers, is not an option for bowlers. "Kumble might be one of the most committed and intelligent players. His perfect 10 haul is the equivalent of somebody scoring a triple century. But to appeal to the younger generation you have to be very in-your-face," he said.

"As compared with Kumble, Harbhajan Singh is young and vivacious. He has youth on his side," said Hero Honda executive director Atul Sobti. This, perhaps, would also explain why another spinner like Harbhajan Singh is a more visible face in advertisements than Kumble.

Kumble's manager, Lokesh Sharma, is now trying to hardsell Kumble's virtues as a dependable and mature player to a few financial services firms.

"He has started writing columns, he will host a few TV shows and start speaking at high-profile dinners. In the coming season you will see a lot more of Kumble," added Sharma.

Too little, too late?
T R Vivek in New Delhi