After overtaking MS Dhoni as the highest-paid batsman on the endorsement circuit, Virat Kohli has raced ahead of his teammate on one more front. He’s now the most talked-about and most trending sportsman in the country across social media, including Twitter, Facebook andInstagram. Kohli averaged a record of close to 12 lakh conversations in March, compared with 7 lakh for Dhoni, according to social media tracker Autumn Worldwide.
“Conversation volume in India has always been in the range of 1.5 lakh to 4 lakh. For the first time, we are seeing a jump with the range being between 10 lakh and 12 lakh. Kohli now has a clear lead,” said Anusha Shetty, chief executive officer at Autumn Worldwide.
“This is the social world where every subject is discussed…the cascading effect of conversations is higher and performance during matches and personal lives sway this volume of conversations.” Kohli, 27, was the highest-scoring Indian in this year’s ICC World Twenty20 tournament .
Dhoni was ranked 23rd by Forbes’ among the world’s highest-paid athletes last year — the only cricketer on the list — with $27 million in earnings from endorsements.
Advertisers such as PepsiCo, which have both Dhoni and Kohli as brand ambassadors, have used only Kohli in their summer campaigns so far. The beverage maker’s current campaign on the ’emoji’ theme features Kohli and actor Ranbir Kapoor and went live last month. According to an official aware of PepsiCo’s plans, the company hasn’t decided if, how and when it will feature Dhoni in its summer campaigns.
Data from Autumn Worldwide shows that for the period from January 2015 to March 2016, both Dhoni and Kohli had similar volumes of conversations, although in some months such as January 2016 when the Dhoni-led India team defeated Australia, Dhoni led over Kohli.
Jogesh Lulla, COO, Cornerstone Sport & Entertainment, the firm which represents Kohli, said: “Virat is very appreciative of his fans and tries to make them a part of his life on social media. The content he posts reflects his personality and that helps increase his following.” Kohli has 10.2 million followers on Twitter compared with 5.27 million for Dhoni.
There is nothing new in it. Its the tradition and the way of evolution. Always the elders make room for the younger and that is what is happening. This does not show any discredit to Dhoni. He has li…
“As a brand, Virat is someone India hasn’t experienced before in the space of popularity. Besides the performances he’s been pulling off, his flamboyance, brashness and tattoo have become an asset. All that put together is a 360-degree package,” said Shailendra Singh, joint managing director at entertainment marketing firm Percept.
Kohli earns about Rs 8 crore for his MRF bat sponsorship and is ahead of Dhoni who makes Rs 6 crore, an official at a talent management firm said. In terms of long-standing contracts, Dhoni remains higher at close to Rs 8 crore a year compared with Kohli’s Rs 5-6 crore, another celebrity management firm representative said.
Brands endorsed by Kohli include Adidas, German luxury car maker Audi, tyre maker MRF, oral care maker Colgate and Swiss watch brand Tissot. His earnings from brand endorsements are estimated at over Rs 100 crore.