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February 20, 1998


Adidas signs on Sachin Tendulkar

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Syed Firdaus Ashraf

Well, we told you so -- former Indian skipper Sachin Tendulkar, on Friday, was officially signed up by Adidas India Trading Private Limited to promote its products, on a six year contract.

Announcing this at a press conference today, Christoph Holland, Managing Director, Adidas India, said, "Cricket today is one of the biggest events," Adidas India's managing director Christoph Holland said in Bombay. "And we hope that by signing Sachin, we will be able to boost our sales in India."

The signing amount was not disclosed. However, given that Tendulkar was quoting in the region of Rs 20 million to Pepsi a year ago, it is obvious that peanuts don't enter into it.

Part of Sachin's brief is to visit the various cities to promote Adidas products, just as Ajay Jadeja, in recent times, has been doing for Reebok.

"I am very happy to be associatied with Adidas," the Indian batting star said. "I have seen several world champions endorsing the products of this company, which is known for its quality sports footwear, apparel and accessories. I am honoured to be among such champions, and will work towards enhancing the image of Adidas in India."

Interestingly, it won't be Adidas shoes that he wears when he goes out to play for the country -- because that has not been written into his contract.

Sachin recalled his association with Adidas, while still in school. In 1985, former Indian cricketer Praveen Amre, Sachin said, presented him with a pair of Adidas sports shoes for scoring a century in a schools game.

The signing comes at a time when ad circles were speculating that Sachin had priced himself out of the endorsement market. His asking price, especially after signing on with Mark Mascarenhas' World Tel, was said to be too high for most products to afford.

Adidas, which entered the Indian market in 1989 through a license agreement with Bata shoe company, is signing up an Asian cricketer for the first time, to promote its famous three-stripes logo and range of sportswear. Thus far, the company has been associated more with soccer and tennis (it will be recalled that on February 9, the company had signed Indian tennis stars Leander Paes and Mahesh Bhupati, ranked number three in world doubles ratings).

The Adidas licensing agreement with Bata had ended in 1994. Subsequently, the company launched a joint venture with Magnum International Trading Company on Ocotber 1, 1996.

The new joint venture company -- Adidas India Trading Pvt, Ltd -- has been incorporated with an intial investment of US $2.5 million, with Adidas holding 80 per cent of the equity while the balance rests with Magnum.

Since then, the company launched a range of sports footwear, apparel and accessories in New Delhi on November 1, 1996, before entering the Bombay, Bangalore, Chennai and Hyderabad markets. Adidas products are also available in Calcutta, Goa, Pune, Ludhiana, Indore, Chandigarh and Coimbatore.

Asked whether the price of the shoes weren't on the stiffish side for the average Indian consumer, Christoph said, "We are aware of the fact, but you get quality for the price, and we cannot compromise on our quality for the sake of shading the price."

Asked why Adidas was left behind in the race for the Indian sports shoe market by later entrants such as Reebok, Christoph quipped: "Probably because we were waiting for the best cricketer in India to sign on with us."

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