« Back to articlePrint this article

Virat Kohli tops celebrity brand rankings for 5th straight year

March 30, 2022 12:59 IST

Cricketer retains top spot in Duff & Phelps 2021 report, Alia Bhatt youngest among the top 10.

Virat Kohli

Illustration: Dominic Xavier/

Virat Kohli has emerged as the most valued celebrity in India for the fifth year in a row, topping the Duff & Phelps Celebrity Brand Valuation Report 2021 despite seeing a dip in his brand value to $185.7 million last year from a high of $237.7 million in 2020.

The annual report explained that brand Kohli faced a decline following the cricketer’s resignation from the ODI (One Day International) and T20 captaincy and “associated exchanges” with the Board of Control for Cricket in India and recent on-field outcomes.


“However, we believe that with the reduced workload after stepping down from captaincy, Kohli can focus now on what he is known for — his batting – and continue his journey on becoming the world’s best batsmen,” it added.

The report also said that with the right on-field performances, brand Kohli might be able to manoeuvre through the speculative tracks ahead.

Actor Ranveer Singh bettered his brand equity and climbed a spot higher to the second spot with a brand value of $158.3 million.

Swapping positions with him, fellow actor Akshay Kumar slipped to number three with a brand value of $139.6 million.

At fourth position is another movie star, Alia Bhatt, the youngest celebrity in the top 10 and now the most valued brand ($68.1 million) among female Bollywood actors.

The resilience of cricketing legend M S Dhoni’s brand was reaffirmed in 2021, a year that saw a huge spike in his value ($61.2 million) from $36.3 million in 2020.

He occupied the fifth position.

“Dhoni continues to enjoy a huge following and has brilliantly transitioned himself out of his pure cricketing image,” Duff & Phelps said in its report.

The report pointed out that even after his retirement from international cricket, Dhoni continues to boast more than 25 brands in his portfolio spread across industries.

Among other Bollywood bigwigs who climbed up in the rankings are Amitabh Bachchan, up from ninth place in 2020 to sixth last year, and Salman Khan who moved a place higher to seventh spot.

Deepika Padukone shared the seventh spot for 2021, two places lower than in 2020.

Ayushmann Khurrana, meanwhile, dropped to the ninth spot from sixth in 2020, while Hrithik Roshan remained at number 10. Shah Rukh Khan’s brand value fell sharply, from number 4 in 2020 to 12th in 2021 ($46.3 million).

Cricketer Sachin Tendulkar occupied the 11th position in the latest ranking with a brand value of $47.4 million.

The total brand value of the top 20 celebrities in India stood at $1.2 billion in 2021, which represents a growth of about 12.9 per cent as compared to the previous year.

In 2020, their total brand value had declined by 5 per cent to $1 billion.

“We are in the midst of the ‘Digital Acceleration 2.0’ phase across businesses and brands.

"The endorsements have evolved to stay relevant in today’s environment requiring improvisation and scale,” said Aviral Jain, managing director, Duff & Phelps, a Kroll business.

He added, “Among celebrities, while Virat (Kohli) continues to rule the brand value charts, Ranveer, Alia and Dhoni seem to have hit the right chords with the audience in 2021 given the stellar jump in their brand values.”

The cumulative number of product brand endorsements by the top 20 increased to 376 in 2021 from 357 in 2020.

“This growth was driven by endorsements in new-age companies that grew to about 12 per cent of the total endorsements.

"Further, this represents a CAGR of 8.4 per cent over the last five years growing from 272 product brands in 2017,” the report said.

Jain observed: “We see more supporting celebrities (athletes other than cricketers) now emerging because while the pandemic was on, box office releases were very few and scarce. But the IPL (Indian Premier League) continued to do well and India also did very well in the Olympic Games.”

Neeraj Chopra, who won a gold in Tokyo, is a unique property while P V Sindhu came back into the top 20 list after winning her second Olympic medal. Placed 20th, she recorded a brand value of $22 million.

According to Jain, emerging celebrities such as actors Taapsee Pannu, Kiara Advani and Sara Ali Khan are inching close to the top 20 bracket but have not made it just yet.

“The way their endorsement portfolios are increasing and given their following of millennials and strong social media presence, in the coming year we should see at least one or two of them making it to the top 20.”

The report noted that it has witnessed a revamp of the Indian celebrity endorsement space in the last two years.

It ruled that the word “celebrity” is no longer synonymous to just Bollywood actors or A-league cricketers, but includes a wide range of athletes and social media influencers, resulting from a significant increase in the use of digital platforms due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

Sharleen D'Souza in Mumbai
Source: source image