Cricket may be a niche sport in many countries around the world and a practically alien concept in some. However, in the countries that the sport has long captured the imagination of locals, its players are some of the most revered celebrities in the land, which makes them hot property when it comes to promoting new products or giving an ailing brand a new lease of life.
In this article, we look at some of the ways in which companies have harnessed the pulling power of famous international cricket players to boost their revenues and get their brand name seared into the public consciousness.
Cricketers are well versed in delivering engaging ad campaigns, with some raking in millions of dollars every single year.
There are not many sportsmen who manage to capture the imagination of an entire nation quite like Freddie Flintoff.
His iconic performances in the Ashes against the Australians will be remembered forever as will his celebrations afterward, which among many destinations took in Buckingham Palace and Number 10 Downing Street.
Since his retirement from cricket and a brief foray into the boxing ring, Flintoff has become a mainstay on prime-time television, appearing on shows such as Top Gear and A League of Their Own.
This all makes him a prime candidate for brands who want the great all-rounder’s coveted seal of approval, such as Natwest, who did an excellent promotion in which Freddie faced his own bowling, with help from a clever bowling machine.
Cricket in India is practically a religion, so the sport’s stars are in high demand
He is arguably the greatest cricket captain that the Indian national team has ever known, renowned for digging his team out of seemingly dire situations in pivotal games in competitions like the World Cup and test series.
Although cricket is a national pastime in England and other places such as Australia, in India it really does surpass any other sport, including the likes of football or basketball.
This means that players like Dhoni and the man they call The Little Master, Sachin Tendulkar, are elevated to an almost god-like status. The appeal for marketing and PR departments is clear!
This has meant that Dhoni has been involved in huge promo campaigns, with all of them encouraging people to join MS Dhoni in getting enthused about the skills and thrills which said companies wish to promote.
One campaign that recently went viral in India was the one Dhoni did for PokerStars India, in which he played games of poker against three rather eccentric characters, all of who he lost to.
Other big-name Indian cricket stars are also regulars on television and newspaper adverts, with Virat Kohli currently being the highest earner, endorsing the likes of Puma and Audi to name but a few.
When you are head and shoulders above the opposition, as well as being the undisputed best in your field, advertisers will always be queuing up to make you into an even bigger star than you already are.
Such is the case with the king of leg-spin bowling, Shane Warne. This Aussie combined a prickly and flamboyant character with unrivaled sporting dedication and has since become a tried and trusted television commentator for Sky Sports and other mainstream broadcasters.
Warne has made good use of his profile on both sides of the equator, having racked up deals with everyone from hair loss companies to online auction sites like eBay.
Despite having retired a long time ago now, Warne’s pulling power shows no sign of letting up and his celebrity lifestyle plays a large part in making sure that he remains relevant.
Kevin Peterson is one of the best-attacking batsmen ever to take to the crease and, similarly to Warne, had a superstar mentality to match.
Although he has not been in the spotlight quite as much as Flintoff and Warne, he still does show his face to promote his favorite brands such as Citizen Eco-Drive wristwatches and Pepsi (a brand that apparently adores using cricket players in all its campaigns).
Of course, it is not just the players of today who are hitting sponsorship earning records out the park.
Many former players remain in the public eye when they retire from the game by taking up commentary or punditry jobs on television or radio. This makes them particularly potent sellers of products for elderly generations who have the time to listen to a test match all day, or to every game of the Cricket World Cup.
One such ex-player is England legend Ian Botham, who made his name by putting the Australians to the sword in Ashes series and who now promotes everything from armchairs that give massages, to fine cigars.
Every sport has that one character who no matter what he does creates excitement and the occasional bit of mischief.
Chris Gayle definitely provides that service to the game of cricket, regularly smashing maximums over the fence in competitions like the IPL and the Big Bash.
Away from terrorizing bowling attacks all over the world, the West Indian has also lent his trademark smile to plenty of brands over the years. These include Skore Condoms and Pepsi, although the cricketer was hard done by with both these brands, that had him feature in truly cringeworthy television ads. Search for them online if you dare!
This diminutive South African will always be remembered in the game for having revolutionized the way fielding was carried out, making it almost as an important factor in the sport as bowling, batting, and wicketkeeping.
However, he was far from just being a sharp man to have in the covers or at short mid-off, averaging over 35 with the bat in all forms of the international game.
Jonty has not done too many ads since he retired, but one he just could not say no to was Domino’s Pizza India, who used the hashtag #AsFastAsJonty to convince people that their pizzas would be delivered at breakneck speed and with safe hands.