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  Tuesday, 21 May, 2002, 09:50 GMT 10:50 UK
Tendulkar in demand
Tendulkar has made 29 Test centuries and is the highest scorer in one-day cricket
Tendulkar is currently on tour in the West Indies

Sachin Tendulkar is the hottest property in India's celebrity endorsement market, making him the top money grosser in cricket history.

Tendulkar's landmark deal with a sports marketing company last year reinforced his status as cricket's top-selling brand, whose value was estimated at $18-20m over five years.

He is the most sought-after figurehead by every multi-national company entering India after the country's market embraced the global economy.

The range of products Tendulkar endorses include a luxury car, tyres, credit card, motorcycle, television, energy and soft drinks, shoes and biscuits.

Marketing wizards continue to make a bee-line to Tendulkar's door, but his endorsement image has taken a knock or two of late.

TV row

Bollywood actor Amitabh Bachchan
Bachchan: Sharing TV time with Tendulkar
He was used as a profile-building exercise by a financial website, which is now under investigation for an alleged securities scam.

And Tendulkar is caught in an unsavoury row between rival drinks companies, with one having the temerity to mock him in a TV commercial.

In a cola commercial, Tendulkar is pitted against India's most-popular Bollywood film actor Amitabh Bachchan in a kite flying competition.

It is now being lampooned by the rival's version which uses cut-outs - minus the faces - of Tendulkar and Bachchan in a parody of the original advertisement.

A protest against the second advert was made by Bachchan's fans, but Tendulkar's admirers have not been slow to voice their outrage and are demanding that it is withdrawn.

"Cricket lovers across the country are shocked that an advertiser has taken the liberty to project Tendulkar in such a negative manner," said Rakesh Malhotra, spokesman of a group called the Sachin Tendulkar Fans' Club of Noida, a township on the outskitrs of New Delhi.

"Fans are making our disappointment known to the agency which is running the campaign."

Still in demand

India beat England on home soil last winter
Tendulkar is feted by fans and firms alike
Despite Tendulkar being the idol of millions of cricket buffs, he does not have an official fan club in the country.

A string of unconnected, unofficial fan clubs have sprung up to celebrate his talent and achievements, but it is difficult to co-ordinate a mass protest.

"I don't really know what impression our protest will make on an advertiser, but you don't expect us to start tearing down banners and smash TV sets when this advertisement is beamed," said Malhotra.

Whilst product endorsement is a lucrative way for a sportsman to supplement the income they derive from the game itself, there are potential risks.

"Such incidents do tend to hurt the image of celebrities endorsing the brand," says Santosh Desai, an advertising professional.

Tendulkar, however, appears to be
damage-proof.

"The lampooning of India's star cricketer isn't bothering the cream among the corporates, who are still rushing to sign Tendulkar as their model," Malhotra added.

Some famous faces never go out of fashion.

BBC Sport Online's special section covering the Test series in the Caribbean

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See also:

12 May 02 | West Indies v India
03 May 02 | Entertainment
23 Apr 02 | West Indies v India
20 Apr 02 | West Indies v India
20 Mar 02 | Funny Old Game
28 Sep 01 | Entertainment
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