Brands have, since time immemorial, gone all guns blazing behind favoured faces to endorse their products. Besides movie stars, brands have found those ‘favoured faces’ among the cricket fraternity, more often than not. The cricketers too, on most occasions, have turned the advertisements into some of their most prized feature list, putting into it as much grit and resilience as they are generally found putting in to save a Test match.
More often than not, the advertisements are recollected and cherished by viewers years later in the parlance of the cricketer’s performance rather than on context of the brand. The advertisements become more about the cricketer than the product itself. Such is the aura that the brands have banked upon time and again. As this tradition continues, we take a pause to look at the 10 best occasions on which Indian cricketers puffed soul of immortality into product placements.
1. Farokh Engineer, the ‘Brylcreem’ boy
The Parsi wicket-keeper batsman from Bombay had started earning acclaims from all quarters shortly after his debut in 1960-61. Engineer became a household name following his exploits of the ‘blackcaps’ in the fourth Test at Madras, during their tour of India in 1965. There he ended a string of low scores by scoring 90 while batting at no. 9. This was followed by Engineer’s magnificent run against West Indies in their 1965 tour to India where, opening the innings in the third Test, Engineer displayed an extra-ordinary show of power and skill, attacking the star studded West Indian bowling line-up right from the very first session. By lunch, he was at 94 which he took to triple digit figures with a six.
These performances had made him a cynosure of all eyes. His talent, flamboyance and popularity coupled with his much spoken of good looks made him a big fish in the market of brand placements. Engineer was approached by several brands of which, the most popular deal was struck with ‘Brylcreem’. Engineer thus became the first ever Indian sportsperson to endorse the product and second overall, after his idol and star English batsman, Denis Compton. This endorsement earned him the lasting moniker of ‘Brylcreem Boy’. Engineer’s venture in the line of brand endorsement remained long until when Sunil Gavaskar took his place to become Indian cricket’s face of brand placement.
The very reason this ad features in this list is that Farokh Engineer with his Brylcreem ad in particular, pioneered the practice of roping in Indian cricketers to endorse non-Indian brands, something that we see of more often nowadays. For a British brand to rope in an Indian as its face was a ‘coming of age’ gamble to allure customers, that definitely didn’t fail to yield results. Engineer had grown popular in England as well, which soon earned him a county contract for Lancashire.
The practice of Indian cricketers endorsing brands that started from here soon traversed rugged paths to carve a niche out for it…and when we talk of it, Farokh Engineer would definitely remain right there at the top, as much as Alyque Padamsee would in any general conversation encompassing the circuit of Indian advertisement.