|June 10, 1997||
Nothing official about Sachin. Nothing cheap about it, either!
Pepsi proposes, Sachin disposes - that about sums up the story of an ad fiasco in the making.
The soft drinks multinational, much pleased over the success of its commercials featuring Sachin Tendulkar and anxious to ride the wave, recently began negotiations with rising star Rahul Dravid.
The idea was for Sachin and Rahul to team up in a series of commercials for the soft drink, under the aegis of ad agency Hindustan Thompson Associates. It will be recalled here that Pepsi had kicked off its Indian campaign with a classy little number featuring Sachin and Vinod Kambli (this was when Kambli was Indian cricket's pinup boy) squabbling over a bottle of Pepsi, only for then India skipper Mohammad Azharuddin to swig the stuff down.
Today, Dravid has taken over from the likes of Kambli and Azhar as Indian cricket's latest pinup - and Pepsi was all set to begin a second innings when a monkey wrench got thrown in the machinery.
Mark Mascarenhas and his Bangalore-based WorldTel had, a year earlier, taken over the rights to manage Sachin's endorsements - paying the Indian star a cool $7 million for the privilege. It is learnt that WorldTel has informed Pepsi that Sachin's contract, which expired on December 31, 1996, can be renewed only if the money payable is revised drastically.
While all concerned are reluctant to reveal the exact figure, sources indicate that WorldTel, on behalf of Sachin Tendulkar, has asked Pepsi to pay an estimated Rs 20 million for the privilege of renewing the endorsement contract.
Pepsi thinks the ask is too high - and that Sachin is in very real danger of overpricing himself out of the market.
WorldTel, for its part, is unfazed - and has already lined up another soft drinks giant that is reportedly ready and willing to sign Sachin on at his new price.
Meanwhile, Rahul Dravid has been left holding the can - though ad agency insiders indicate that Pepsi has plans of going ahead and using Dravid, solo, for its next series of commercials.
Interestingly, though the just completed cricket season has brought little joy for the Indian team in terms of results, it has certainly upped their market rates when it comes to endorsements. Dravid is a prime example. Saurav Ganguly is another. And despite his relative lack of success as a match winning bowlers, Anil Kumble is a third - ad sources indicate that at the beginning of the 1996-1997 season, his asking price was Rs 300,000. A year later, an extra zero has been tagged on to that tab - Kumble now gets Rs 3 million for each endorsement.
Meanwhile, back to Tendulkar - and the word is that hectic efforts are on to persuade Sachin to extend his innings with Pepsi. Tendulkar - with WorldTel fronting him - is equally set on getting his asking price.
Like the sign outside the darkroom of a photography studio says, 'Wait for developments'.
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