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Sachin Tendulkar: The Road from being a Cricketer to becoming a Cultural Brand Icon

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This thesis offers a systematic and observed research on a brand related to host of powerful identity brands of the past half century, brands generally known as ‘iconic brands’. …

This thesis offers a systematic and observed research on a brand related to host of powerful identity brands of the past half century, brands generally known as ‘iconic brands’.

I analyse a particular brand, the brand Sachin Tendulkar, by uncovering the principles that account for its success by drawing on ‘the cultural branding’ model as proposed by Douglas B. Holt (2004).

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  • 1. Page | 1 Sachin Tendulkar: The Road from being a Cricketer to becoming a Cultural Brand Icon Submitted by Ramveer Rai to the University of Exeter as a dissertation towards the degree of Masters of Science by advance studies in Marketing in September 2009. I certify that all material in this dissertation which is not my own work has not been identified and that no material is included for which a degree has previously been conferred upon me - Ramveer Rai
  • 2. Page | 2 ABSTRACT This thesis offers a systematic and observed research on a brand related to host of powerful identity brands of the past half century, brands generally known as ‘iconic brands’. I analyse a particular brand, the brand Sachin Tendulkar, by uncovering the principles that account for its success by drawing on ‘the cultural branding’ model as proposed by Douglas B. Holt (2004). Thus, my thesis shall be established on the ‘axioms of cultural branding’ as anticipated by Holt (2004), which are considered to be tacit principles adopted by brands to achieve iconic status. This paper shall examine Sachin Tendulkar as an epiphenomenon in cricket culture and mass media. The life of Sachin Tendulkar is consistent with these fundamental principles. First, I shall explore and illustrate how verbal materials elicited about Tendulkar, from people in the market place, are a form of storytelling that can be considered as projective. While drawing from the myth that represents Sachin Tendulkar, I shall clarify how marketplace mythologies provide meanings and descriptions that serve multiple ideological agendas. I illustrate this conceptualisation by analysing mythic narratives that spread in the cricketing scene in India. Further, I aim to assess Tendulkar’s image as a role model in terms of his contribution to debates surrounding politics, religion and Indian nationalism. And finally, by determining the nature of the brand personality and brand identity of Sachin Tendulkar, I set sights on understanding how the business of brands can be applied to social phenomena like cricket players and trace the footsteps of the brands path to iconicity. By pursuing a case study on Sachin Tendulkar, I aim at presenting an insight into how cultural icons saturate consumer culture and how their ensuing power and influence is manoeuvred by marketers to assist marketplace identities and requirements.
  • 3. Page | 3 CONTENT AT A GLANCE Abstract 2 Introduction 4 Chapter 1: Iconic Brands Perform Identity Myths That Address Desires and Anxieties in Society What do we mean by Myths 10 Identity Myth- The Hero Myth 11 Heroic Masculinity 14 Sachin Tendulkar: Hit or Myth 16 Tendulkar: Sport Star or Hero 17 Tendulkar: Hero Adventure Myth 18 Tendulkar and the ‘Breadwinner’ Ideology 23 Chapter 2: Identity Myths are set in Populist Worlds Marketplace Mythology 27 Cricket Crazy Nation 30 Marketplace Mythology in India 30 Chapter 3: Iconic Brands perform as Activists, Leading Culture Knowing Cricket, Knowing Sport 37 Sports Stars as Role Models 38 The Other side of Sachin Tendulkar 40 Tendulkar and the Gandhian Nationalism 42 Tendulkar: Hero of a Generation 45 Chapter 4: Identity Myths Reside in the Brand Tendulkar’s Brand Identity 52 Tendulkar’s Brand Personality 55 Conclusion 62 Bibliography 65
  • 4. Page | 4 INTRODUCTION The Oxford English Dictionary defines a cultural icon as “a person or thing regarded as a representative symbol, especially of a culture or a movement; a person or an institution considered worthy of admiration or respect” .The dictionary provides a helpful definition but not an explanation. How do we come to accept cultural icons as symbols for valued ideals? To address this question we must first acknowledge where icons originate and then isolate what these icons do exactly to earn their hallowed place in society. According to Holt (2004), “cultural icons are as old as civilization, but their mode of production has changed dramatically since the mid-nineteenth century” (pp. 2). With modern mass communication, we increasingly dwell in a world in which the circulation of cultural icons has become a vital economic activity. People associate strongly with cultural icons and often rely on these symbols in their everyday lives. Icons serve as society’s foundational compass points- anchors of meaning. More generally cultural icons are consummate symbols that people accept as shorthand to signify important ideas. Customers value some brands as much for what they symbolize as for they do. Customers value the brand stories largely for their ‘identity value’. Acting as vessels of self-expression, “the brands are imbued with stories that consumers find valuable in constructing their identities” (Holt, 2002, pp. 3). Consumers flock the brand that embody the ideals they admire, brands that help them express who they want to be. Iconic brands become icons by utilizing stories, identity myths (a story that resolves
  • 5. Page | 5 cultural contradictions). These stories, or myths, take the brand from mere mortal status as ‘identity brands’ to immortal status of ‘icons’. Not all brands, or in other words sport stars, can become icons. In particular, I am concerned with Sachin Tendulkar’s popular cultural influence in Indian Society as a myth, an international sporting figure, an ambassador for certain political and ‘national’ values that draw sustenance from religion and culture and ultimately as a brand icon. “Sachin Tendulkar is a God in India and people believe luck shines in his hand”, Australia’s opening batsman Mathew Hayden told the Sydney Sun Herald ( as cited in Ezekiel (2002), pp. 1). “He means as much as to the young as he does to the old; as much to the market as he does to the masses” (Nalapat and Parker, 2005, pp. 434). Whilst Tendulkar’s sporting success has elevated him in terms of lifestyle circumstance, his public image remains grounded in realities and complexities of popular cultural struggle, his appeal proving as prevalent amongst the higher echelons of Indian society as it does amongst the urban slums of the country largest cities. In order to explain how iconic brands, in this case Tendulkar, evolve and are sustained over time, I shall draw upon Holt’s (2004) research in socio cultural analysis. Through the research carried out, he found out that brands have followed a set of tacit principles- the cultural branding model- that are entirely different from the principles found in conventional branding frameworks. Holt’s model hinges on several key axioms which outline the foundation of my thesis based on relevant literature. The axioms are as follows:- 1. Iconic Brands Perform Identity Myths that address desires and anxieties in Society
  • 6. Page | 6 2. Identity Myths are set in Populist Worlds 3. Iconic Brands Perform as Activists, Leading Culture 4. Identity Myths Reside in the Brand, Which Consumers Experience and Share In doing so, I will unveil a greater understanding of how the brand ‘Sachin Tendulkar’, through different stages of the cultural branding model, achieved the ultimate status of being an icon. In chapter one, by using Stern’s (1995) study of consumption myths; Claude Levi- Strauss’s (1955) structural study of myths, Thompson’s (2004) research on marketplace mythologies and its power; and Belk and Tumbat’s (2005) study on understanding brand cult, I shall explain how mythology embedded within branding helps influence consumer culture. In the next section I shall explain how Sachin Tendulkar’s rise and fall throughout his career is a classic example of the ‘Heroic Adventure Myth’ as formulated by Joseph Campbell (1988). And finally, following on Holt and Thompson’s (2004) observation that, “masculine ideologies are influenced by the portrayal of heroic figures and are circulated in “books, films, newspapers, TV programmes, music, advertisements and journalists coverage of celebrities and business and political leaders” (pp. 427), I shall investigate how the ideology of Tendulkar’s ‘heroic masculinity’ acts as raw ingredients that consumers draw upon to construct their identities. In chapter two, drawing on Holt’s (2004) theory of myth markets, I shall try to explain how the myths that represent Sachin Tendulkar are set in populist worlds in
  • 7. Page | 7 order to perceive that the myth is authentic. ). “Mythic archetypes and plotlines are sources of resonant meanings and ideals from which national mythologies are constructed and expropriated to serve specific ideological purposes” (Thompson, 2004, pp. 163). These ideologies are taken up by a variety of contenders (popular culture in all its forms) as “national ideology is usually the most powerful root of consumer demand for myth” (Holt, 2004, pp.57). By providing a detailed explanation of the ideologies of the nation and the tension’s they experience, we can have a clearer view as to why the activities carried out in populist worlds are essentially valuable to the people of India. In chapter three, I shall discuss how iconic brands are prescient, addressing the leading edges of cultural change. Sport has delivered “the ingredients for dreams and fantasies; suspense and sensation, victories and success, superhuman feats, asceticism and commitment” (Biskup and Gertrud, 1999, pp. 202). By throwing light on being a sports icon and a role model, I shall argue how Tendulkar functions like a cultural activist, encouraging people to think differently of themselves. I aim to explain, how the value of the myth that represents Sachin Tendulkar not only resides in the myth itself, but in its alignment with society’s incipient identity desires. And finally, in chapter four, I will set out to explain and understand ‘Brand Sachin’. I will begin by focusing on the true meaning and significance of the term ‘brand’ in marketing theory. Following on Holt’s (2004) observation that customers eventually recognize that the myth exists in the brand markers as “the brand becomes a symbol, a material embodiment of the myth” , I intend on analysing Sachin Tendulkar’s brand identity and brand personality and how these ‘human characteristics associated with a brand’ serve as symbolic or self-expressive functions.
  • 8. Page | 8 In sum, through using relevant literature on myth, marketplace mythology, role model and brand iconicity, I propose to illustrate the significance of instilling cultural branding in brand construction by using Sachin Tendulkar as a primary example. Further, I aim to explain the reasons behind why Tendulkar’s image became such a powerful marketing tool and offer insight into how appropriate Holts (2004) cultural branding model showcases brand Sachin’s capacity to control consumer culture. Finally, I tie all the theoretical concepts together in order to accurately demonstrate their connection and relevance to the overall picture.
  • 9. Page | 9 CHAPTER – 1 Iconic Brands Perform Identity Myths that address desires and anxieties in Society For many decades, managers have taken for granted that they can build identity brands by associating the brand with desired figures: the good-looking, wealthy, and charming guy who happens to drink Heineken, wear Tommy Bahama, or drive a Mercedes (Holt, 2004). While many brands do apply such status appeals, iconic brands do not. Holt (2004) states that brands become iconic when they perform identity myths: “simple fictions that address cultural anxieties from afar from imaginary worlds rather than from the worlds that consumers regularly encounter in their everyday lives. Identity myths are helpful fabrications that stitch back together otherwise negative tears in the cultural fabric of the nation. Before contextualizing Sachin Tendulkar’s leap to becoming a brand icon , I shall present theoretical contributions that support this claim. In this chapter, I shall discuss the notion of myths and to illustrate the idea that verbal materials elicited from people in the marketplace are a form of storytelling that can be analyzed as projective. First, I shall discuss the origin and complications in defining myth; and then I shall discuss how mythologies help build and maintain iconic brands and how similar characteristics also define celebrity icons.
  • 10. Page | 10 WHAT DO WE MEAN BY ‘MYTH’S? The term myth draws from the Greek word mythos (‘word of mouth’), and is often defined as a ‘tale or story’ (Stern, 1995). However, this straightforward definition is far too one-dimensional to gain a true insight of a term that is so complex. In his paper, Sidney J.Levy (1981) raises an interesting question, “If consumer responses are stories (or parts thereof) that tell about various people or communities, how shall the stories be interpreted?” (pp. 50). Some guidance may come in the form of observing how various kinds of stories offer meanings through fairy tales, plays, novels and myths, en route to studying consumer research protocols. Sidney J.Levy states that the pursuit for meanings expressed in a story occurs at various levels. One of these levels states, “where the authorship is anonymous, as in folk tales or in myths or has its roots recognized in ancient chronicles, the source may be interpreted as part of some national or ethnic character.” (pp. 50). Myths are tales commonly told within a social group. Formal interpretations of myths is related to classifying and explaining grand myths – “ those tales of the gods, beasts, and heroes that are about the creation of the world, human birth and death, heroic family romances, saviors and seers, and cataclysmic physical events” (Sidney J. Levy, 1981, pp. 51). The study of myths was very much revitalized by the work of Claude Levi- Strauss. He states that mythology confronts a student with certain situations, where on the one hand “it would seem that in the course of a myth anything is likely to happen. There is no logic or continuity. With myth, everything becomes possible” (Claude Levi- Strauss,1955, pp. 429). But on the other hand “this apparent arbitrariness is belied by the astounding similarity between myths collected in widely different regions” (Claude
  • 11. Page | 11 Levi-Strauss,1955, pp. 429). Claude Levi Strauss’s contribution to his analysis involves certain main features where he concludes by stating that “the purpose of myth is to provide a logical model capable of overcoming contradictions or paradoxes in natural and social experience” ( Sidney J.Levy, 1981, pp. 51). Holt (2004) also supports this point by stating that myths smooth over tensions, “helping people create purpose in their lives and cement their desired identity in place when it is under stress” (pp. 8). Therefore, with regard to the thesis, it is felt that when a person becomes a model for other people’s lives, he has moved into a sphere of being mythologized. Though, as Claude Levi- Strauss states, “myths are still widely interpreted in conflicting ways” (pp. 428), the fundamental character of a myth points to “its universal mode of thought, the way it transcends local culture” (Sidney J.Levy, 1981,pp. 51). As Levi- Strauss says, “its substance does not lie in its style, its original music, or its syntax, but in the story which it tells” (Levi-Strauss, 1963 as cited in Sidney J.Levy, 1981, pp. 51). As Stern (1995) concludes myths “are as old as humanity, yet constantly renewed to fit contemporary life”. (pp. 183). I argue that during his career thus far, Sachin Tendulkar has merged himself with an assortment of myths that ultimately propelled him to iconic status. The most potent of these myths is the ‘hero myth’. In the next section, I shall present a synopsis detailing the theoretical aspects of the narrative that compile the iconic status of Sachin Tendulkar. IDENTITY MYTH- THE ‘HERO’ MYTH The term ‘hero’ is used in a number of different ways. Although the term hero originates from the “Greek word meaning ‘person distinguished for courage, fortitude
  • 12. Page | 12 or deeds’, its meaning is adaptable between cultures and through time” (Vande Berg, 1998 as cited in G.Lines, 2001, pp. 287). Synonyms such as celebrity, exemplar, great man, heartthrob, man of the hour, idol, start, and superstar are used for the term ‘hero’. By comparison to the term ‘heroine’, the male definition carries a “wider range of meanings, with the notion of exemplars and conquerors frequently represented in media coverage of male sport stars” (G. Lines, 2001, pp. 287). Gledhill (1991, as cited in G.Lines, pp. 288) further substantiates this point by suggesting that stars are a signifying element in media texts: A social sign, carrying cultural meanings and ideological values, which express the intimacies of individual personality, inviting desire and identification; an emblem of national celebrity; a product of capitalism and the ideology of individualism yet a site of contest by marginalized groups; a figure consumed for his or her personal life, who competes for allegiance with statesmen and politicians. (pp. 288). Sachin Tendulkar’s journey in Indian cricket is a classic example the Heroic Adventure Myth as formulated by Joseph Campbell. According to Campbell (1991) there are so many stories of the hero in mythology because “in popular novels, the main character is a hero or heroine who has found or done something beyond the normal range of achievement and experience” (Campbell, 1991, pp. 123). Campbell approaches the concept of hero in myths in a very spiritual and psychological manner. According to Campbell (1991), there are two types of deed that hero’s perform in different cultures. One is the physical deed in which “the hero performs a courageous act in a battle” (Campbell, 1991, pp. 123). The other kind is the spiritual deed in which “the hero learns to experience the supernormal range of human spiritual life and then comes back with a message” (Campbell, 1991, pp. 123). Campbell also cites that ‘heroism’ has moral objectives. The moral objective is that of “saving a person or supporting an idea”
  • 13. Page | 13 (Campbell, 1991, pp. 127). The hero, in a way, sacrifices himself for something –that’s the morality of it. With regard to the thesis, I shall assess Sachin Tendulkar’s image in terms of his has sacrifice and contribution to debates surrounding politics, religion and Indian nationalism, as his intrinsic ‘heroism’ of the deed performed has served the betterment of the Indian society. Coming back the classic Heroic Adventure Myth, Campbell (1991, as cited in Belk and Tumbat, 2005, pp. 209) states that the myth consists of nine key elements, namely: 1. The call to adventure 2. A helper 3. A wondrous journey 4. Trials 5. More helpers 6. Apotheosis 7. Flight 8. Resurrection, and 9. The boon that restores the world In their paper Belk and Tumbat (2005) characterize Steve Jobs, co-founder of Apple, through these elements as he is interpreted in Apple’s corporate mythology and in the minds of its followers. However, with reference to Campbells (1991) nine heroic themes, there is no mention of the significance of sequential adherence. Not only it is felt that that the sequentiality is not justified, but there also appears to be no reason why
  • 14. Page | 14 a person cannot be a ‘hero’ if they fail to fit all nine themes. I shall validate my reasoning by claiming Sachin Tendulkar’s heroic adventure. HEROIC ‘MASCULINITY’ Masculine ideologies are influenced by the portrayal of heroic figures and are circulated in “books, films, newspapers, TV programmes , music , advertisements and journalists coverage of celebrities and business and political leaders ”( Holt and Thompson, 2004, pp. 427). Holt and Thompson (2004) define masculine ideologies as “ tacit understandings regarding how a man earns respect, what makes a man successful, what it means to be a good father, what qualities make a man heroic, and so on” (pp. 426), that circulate prominently in mass culture. The masculine figures championed in popular culture act as “semiotic raw ingredients that consumers draw upon to construct their identities” (Holt and Thompson, 2004, pp. 427). G. Line’s (2001) argues that “sports stars function to represent heroic images of men and masculinity” (pp. 289). Rowe (1992, as cited in G. Lines, 2001) supports this point, “it is through the mass media that sports stars function as celebrity advertisements for masculinity” (pp. 289). The sporting hero has traditionally been perceived as “ epitomizing social ideals and masculine virtues, and as embodying values which learnt on the playing fields will readily will readily transfer into everyday life” (McIntosh, 1979; Mangan, 1981; Whannel, 1995 as cited in G. Lines, 2001,pp. 286). Whannel (1992, as cited in G. Lines, 2001) develops this point further: The ideal star is young, male and successful. The maleness of the concept becomes clearer when the qualities evoked and offered for admiration are analyzed. There is a stress on a set of qualities
  • 15. Page | 15 traditionally associated with masculinity – toughness, aggression, commitment, power, competitiveness, courage and ability to stand up to pressure….( pp. 289). Consumer research studies that touch on masculine consumption are consistent with the compensatory consumption thesis (Schouten and McAlexander, 1995, Belk and Costa, 1998). In order to explain the heroic masculinity expressed by Sachin Tendulkar, I shall incorporate Holt and Thompson’s (2004) thesis. In their analysis they hone one of the most central ideologies – the ideology of heroic masculinity. Holt and Thompson came to believe that the compensatory consumption thesis failed to capture some of the most powerful masculine identities. Thus they define three masculinity models- breadwinner, rebel and man-of-action hero- together that form their ideology of heroic masculinity. The breadwinner model is where one becomes a man through the act of achieving through hard work (pp. 427); the rebel model is where one is has defiant individualism, anarchic and fiercely independent (pp. 427) and the man of action model is considered “the best of both worlds, resolving the tensions between breadwinning and rebellion in a utopian resolution” (Holt and Thompson, 2004, pp. 428). In context of this thesis, I shall incorporate ‘the breadwinner model’ as it automatically fits the role that Tendulkar acts out. In the following case study we look closely at the story of Tendulkar, whose myth and masculine ideals took the sport of cricket by storm which ultimately proved to be a remarkable marketing phenomenon.
  • 16. Page | 16 ‘If Cricket is Religion, Then Sachin is God’ SACHIN TENDULKAR – HIT OR MYTH In cricket crazy India, the fanatical patriotism towards their heroes sometimes crosses the borders of sanity. One such fanaticism revolves around the Demi-God status attributed to Sachin Tendulkar. And it’s not easy being him. In a vast country like India, cricket and Bollywood movies are about the only outlets for a population of a billion plus people, of whom most lead a routine, often-perilous existence. If life for ordinary folk is quite claustrophobic, imagine what it must be like for cricketers and movie stars. Soumya Bhattacharya (2003) states, “Heroes belong to the adolescence”. That is because wide-eyed worship belongs to adolescents. The world teaches us to be wary of idols as we grow up. Alan Ross (as cited in Bhattacharya, 2003) also supports this point, as he believes: “..heroes are necessary to children and that as we grow up it becomes more difficult to establish them in the increasingly responsive soil of our individual mythology. Occasionally, the adult imagination is caught and sometimes it is held: but the image rarely takes root” Tendulkar’s magic in cricket has been that his image has taken root in the adult imagination. He has done more than bound a nation. It is estimated that when Tendulkar is batting against Pakistan, India’s arch rivals in the sport as like most other issues, the television audience exceeds the population of Europe. He has bridged the age divide of the country that has made people agree about at least one thing in life. Sachin “has
  • 17. Page | 17 forced us to revisit and redefine our ideas of sporting glory formed in adolescence” (Bhattacharya, 2003). The cricketing world considers Sachin as one of the best batsmen of all times, but Indians cannot digest the fact that he is ‘One of the best’. One statement against him and Indians throughout the world will be ready to pounce on you. You cannot expect to have a reasonable argument when people display banners that shout out “Cricket is my religion and Sachin is my God”. But as Peter Roebuck (2008) rightly points out, Sachin’s heroics “goes beyond facts and figures, style, sportsmanship and masterly innings, or else others could join him in his isolated acclaim”. His combination of aggression and productivity defined him and he has been untarnished by any sort of scandal. If you read India’s papers, it’s filled with stories about communal agitation, political disputes and corruption. India yearns for a champion. “Its gods are exotic, its films are escapists and its batsman is a conqueror” (Peter Roebuck, 2008). Tendulkar has been the hero his country needed. TENDULKAR: SPORT STAR OR HERO? Holt (1996, as cited in G.Lines, 2001) suggests, “a sport without a hero is like Hamlet without the Prince” (pp. 287). Indeed, it is difficult to identify high profile media sports without prominent stars. Sports stars are real in the sense that they perform live under random sporting conditions that happen throughout their sporting career. Holt (1999, as cited in G.Lines, 2001) also implies the lives of sports stars are ‘woven into stories we tell ourselves’.
  • 18. Page | 18 The (Godly) figure of Sachin Ramesh Tendulkar was born on 24th April, 1973. He made his Test debut in 1989 at the tender age of 16. He crossed over 1000 runs and scored five test centuries before the end of his teens. Such was the talent of Sachin then, that he currently is the highest run scorer in both Test matches and ODIs, and also the batsman with the most centuries in either form of the game. Not only has he dominated Indian cricket, but the world game as well. And that domination has gone beyond just one decade. Gulu Ezekiel (2002) states that TIME magazine chose Tendulkar as one of their ‘Asian Heroes’ and put him on the cover of their Asian edition (29 April 2002) for the second time in three years (pp. 1). This speaks volumes about his ‘heroic’ deeds, apart from his cricket achievements, as he shares space with human right activists, freedom fighters and other luminaries. Cricket, like any other sport, can also construct ‘heroes’ when players enthrall spectators with particular match winning performances. But this doesn’t imply that they will achieve ‘legendary’ or ‘God’ like status instantly. In order to understand how Sachin constitutes to being a long-term hero, I shall refer back to the classic hero adventure myth as portrayed by Campbell (1991). TENDULKAR - ‘HERO ADVENTURE MYTH’ In this section, I shall layout how Campbell’s (1991) nine elements seem to characterize Sachin Tendulkar as he is construed in the ‘hero’ myth and in the minds of cricket fans worldwide.
  • 19. Page | 19 Call to Adventure and Helper Sachin’s ‘call to adventure’ was to play for the Mumbai Ranji Squad and at the young age of 16, he represented the Indian National squad. This dream happened in awe- inspiring fashion as he and his childhood chum Vinod Kambli, created a world record worth an unbeaten 664 runs for any wicket in any class of cricket, which enabled him to make himself known on the grandest stage. It was during his childhood days in Mumbai where Sachin came across his first ‘helper’, Sri Ramakant Achrekar, who is famously known in India as the man who helped nurture Sachin’s talent for cricket. Recently Sachin Tendulkar paid rich tributes to his mentor Cricket coach Ramakant Achrekar saying he attributed his success to ‘Sir’. BCCI President Manohar even stated that Achrekar and Tendulkar are like modern day's Dronacharaya and Arjun (Indian mythological figures) and recalled their journey and contributions to Cricket as ‘outstanding’.(Source: www.indianexpress.com). Wondrous Journey From then on Sachin Tendulkar was engaged on several ‘wondrous journeys’. Such as Sachin, at the age of 16 years and 205 days, became the youngest Indian test player in history. He was also appointed captain of the Indian national side and guided India to success at various tournaments at a time when Indian cricket was overshadowed with match fixing scandals and numerous controversies. One of his most incredible innings, that had left an everlasting imprint in every Indians mind, would be the ‘the desert storm’ match at Sharjah where he literally ,single handedly destroyed world champions
  • 20. Page | 20 (at the time) Australia and won the Coca Cola trophy, which restored India’s batting supremacy at a time when it was criticized the most. However, Sachin Tendulkar declares that the most significant journey appears to be his wedding to long time love Dr. Anjali Mehta on 25th May 1995. “The greatest Indian alive”- Bishen Singh Bedi, Former Indian Cricket Great Trials Sachin’s life was not without ‘trials’. The latter part of 2001, also known as the ‘dark period’ of Indian cricket, saw one controversy after another- not of his own making- dogging Sachin Tendulkar’s footsteps. The match fixing scandal controversy had hit the subcontinent region with the game being accused of being linked with bookies and alleged ‘underworld’ after certain players were found guilty. Foreign media were almost
  • 21. Page | 21 keen and anxious on finding him at fault. As Gulu Ezekiel (2002) further states this incident: “One Australian journalist, amongst others, brushed aside the fury of Indian fans as ‘knee-jerk hubris’. It was as if they were gloating at the thought that the Indian icon had finally been found guilty after a spotless record all these years” (pp. 303) Another turbulent moment in Sachin’s career was when he was given a suspended ban of one game and fined 75% of his match fee in light of alleged ‘ball tampering’ by match referee Mike Denness. Television cameras picked up images that suggested Tendulkar may have been involved in cleaning the seam of the cricket ball in the test match. According to newly stipulated rules this can, under some conditions, amount to altering the condition of the ball. But the punishment did not fit the crime. Harsha Bhogle, a famous Indian journalist and cricket commentator lucidly explained this case: “He was merely taking the grass off the seam- an offence but a minor one….The punishment was extraordinary, not so much because of the fine and suspended sentence, but because of the opportunity it gave the world to call an honest man a cheat. Worse still, Denness had no complain from the on- field umpire and refused to trust Tendulkar” (As cited in Gulu Ezekiel, 2002, pp. 303). The incident escalated to include allegations of racism. After a thorough investigation, the official status of the match and the ban on Tendulkar was lifted.
  • 22. Page | 22 More Helpers Through all these incidents, Tendulkar was lifted by more ‘helpers’ in the form of the fans, Indian cricket legends, the media and the Board of Control of Cricket in India (BCCI) - in short the whole country was with him. To understand why Indian cricket fans took to the streets in protest, why the Indian media was full of articles and editorials condemning Denness and why the BCCI virtually brought international cricket to a halt, is to understand the esteem in which Tendulkar is held in his country. This esteem has not been gained effortlessly, nor has it been built purely on a mountain of runs. Ezekiel (2002) reasons that “It had been gained the hard way, by being the ideal role model and avoiding the many unsavoury controversies affecting Indian cricket over the years” (pp. 301). Apotheosis Although an obvious significance of Tendulkar’s ‘apotheosis’ can be witnessed, it is complicated to choose an instance in his magnificent career that pinpoints this theme. In a country of a billion plus where the ‘unity of diversity’ mantra of the state machinery has come into being hollow, Tendulkar has materialized as perhaps the nation’s sole unifying force. A line from Ramachandra Guha’s book authenticates his status as ‘The God of Indian Cricket’: Every time he walks to the wicket, ‘a whole nation, tatters and all, marches with him to the battle arena. A papuper people pleading for relief, remission from the lifelong anxiety of being Indian…. seeking a moment’s liberation from their India-bondage through the exhilarating grace of one accidental bat’ (as cited in Ezekiel, 2002, pp. 1).
  • 23. Page | 23 The honours have come thick and fast in an international career that started in 1989. It would just be safe to say that his god-given talent for the sport was acquired at birth. TENDULKAR AND THE ‘BREADWINNER’ IDEOLOGY Professional athletes and their sporting achievements offer another significant domain in which different heroic masculinity scripts play out time and again. The most acclaimed athletes are renowned for “their individual accomplishments, displays of superhuman skill, and inimitable personal style while at the same time acting as team players” (Holt and Thompson, 2004, pp. 429). Throughout his whole career, Tendulkar has developed qualities that deem him fit with the ideology of the heroic ‘Breadwinner model’ as proposed by Holt and Thompson (2004). Indian mass culture is stacked with rags-to-riches stories. Tendulkar is seen as a heroic avatar and an exampler of the major tenets of the Indian myth of success: He worked hard, was a man of integrity and with a little bit of luck, he achieved fame and fortune. When describing his ‘classic hero adventure’ myth, it can be noticed that Tendulkar possesses exceptional talent, who was a firm believer of hard work and clean living, who approved the devotion of his fans, who displayed the necessary courage needed to overcome whatever challenges he was confronted with his professional or personal lives.
  • 24. Page | 24 One key to Tendulkar’s incredible popularity, which has won over the world, is his loyalty to traditional middle-class Indian values: deference to elders, humility, commitment and honesty. India, while being globalised, continues to hold dear to its heart and significant to its growth is its traditional values. In a way, Tendulkar is like the country to which he belongs. “ Breadwinning men are represented as paragons of family values and community pillars” (Holt and Thompson, 2004, pp. 427).‘What are the advantages of being Sachin Tendulkar?’ he was asked in an interview (Sportsworld, May 1995 as cited in Ezekiel, 2002). And his response was: “I would like to be humble, be polite to everybody and would like to give respect to my elders. I’m not really expecting anything from the people for the little (fame)…I have earned…I believe rules are there to be observed irrespective of whoever you are” (pp. 3) That in essence is the man. As Spiderman’s uncle told him, “With great power, comes great responsibility”. Billions of over enthusiastic fans, immeasurable respect from peers and the status of a Demi-god can easily corrupt an average person. There are numerous sportsmen who have had their heads in the clouds and fallen in shame and humiliation. But Tendulkar, no doubt, has taken it in his stride and never let it affect his life. Apart from his extraordinary record in international cricket, indications of his heroic reign in world cricket can be seen through his ability to spawn an ‘out of the ordinary’ following. Peter Roebuck (2008) confirms this in his article:
  • 25. Page | 25 “A hush goes around the ground whenever the second Indian wicket falls in a Test match. It is not a mark of disrespect towards the departing batsman but a sign of the excitement felt about the imminent emergence of his replacement. As Sachin steps onto the field, a roar erupts that could shake trees and does not abate till he has taken guard” Former Australian captain Steve Waugh has stated in the past that Tendulkar will go down in history as the best ever batsman after Bradman. Former England captain Mike Brearley summed it up quite beautifully in his article: “Perhaps it is in his Hindu roots that Tendulkar finds the peace of mind to carry without either arrogance or panic the load of national fervour that lands on his stocky shoulders. If it is one’s karma to be the Indian Bradman, then all that is to be done is to try one’s best and thank God” (as cited in Ezekiel, 2002, pp. 306) Referring Sachin Tendulkar to the legendary Don Bradman is verification of his achievements in cricket and goes a long way in explaining why cricket enthusiast’s and followers refer to him as ‘The God of Indian Cricket’. When consumers latch on to myths that are appropriate to their identities, it can sometimes solidify their viewpoints in society. The power of myths then lies in its ability to join consumer groups together through a string of related sagas that provides classification to their overall identities. Naturally, something that has the capacity to facilitate such a strong influence on consumer culture becomes of primary interest to marketers.
  • 26. Page | 26 Holt and Thompson (2004) define masculine ideologies as “ tacit understandings regarding how a man earns respect, what makes a man successful, what it means to be a good father, what qualities make a man heroic, and so on” (pp. 426) that circulate prominently in mass culture. These masculine figures championed in popular culture act as “semiotic raw ingredients that consumers draw upon to construct their identities” (Holt and Thompson, 2004, pp. 427). Indian mass culture, which is stacked with rags- to-riches stories, can see Tendulkar as a heroic avatar and an exampler of the major tenets of the Indian myth of success. The Breadwinner model formulated by Holt and Thompson (2004) highlights Tendulkar’s masculine ideology through his hard work and integrity through which he achieved fame and fortune. In regard to the nine themes that compose a classic hero adventure as presented by Campbell (1991), there appears to be no need for the nine themes to follow a sequential order for a person to be considered a hero. The principles themes discussed by Campbell are a good representation of what a classic hero adventure entails, but whether they occur sequentially or completely do not affect a person’s heroic identity. On the other hand, fitting the apotheosis element is a key factor that determines if someone is considered to be a hero, and cannot be neglected.
  • 27. Page | 27 CHAPTER – 2 Identity Myths are set in Populist Worlds Identity myths are usually set in populist worlds. Holt (2004) defines populist worlds as “places separated not only from everyday life but also from the realms of commerce and elite control” (Holt, 2004, pp. 9). The myths carried out by iconic brands draw from populist worlds as source materials “to create credibility that the myth has authenticity that is grounded in the lives of real people whose lives are guided by these beliefs” (Holt, 2004, pp. 9). In this chapter, I shall develop the construct of marketplace mythology which offers a critical logic for exploring how cultural myths are leveraged to create distinctive marketplace mythologies that, in turn, serve diverse, and often competing, ideological interests. MARKETPLACE MYTHOLOGY The significant influence that cultural myths exert on the stories consumers tell and the meanings they ascribe to their experiences, has been well researched by a number of theorists ( Arnould, Price, and Tierney 1998; Levy 1981; Stern 1995). The relationship between a marketplace mythology and diverse ideological agendas “has important implications for theorizations of consumer emancipation” (Firat and Venkatesh 1995;
  • 28. Page | 28 Holt 2002; Kozinets 2002; Murray and Ozanne 1991 as cited in Thompson, 2004, pp. 163). Holt (2004) argues that Identity brands are different as they “compete in myth markets, not product markets” (pp. 39). In cultural branding, managers must identify an appropriate myth market as they “compete with other cultural products to perform myths that resolve cultural contradictions” (Holt, 2004, pp. 39). Holt (2004) states Mountain Dew as an example of an agile iconic brand as it reinvented itself twice, in the face of major cultural disruptions, by targeting myth markets as they emerged in American mass culture. “Iconic brands not only target the most appropriate myth market; they are also sensitive to cultural disruptions, shifting their target when opportunity strikes” (Holt, 2004, pp. 39). He lauds this very aspect of Mountain Dew as they managed to reinvent the brands myth when the American Ideology shifted across the ‘Scientific Bureaucracy’ to ‘Wall Street Frontier’ to ‘The Free Agent Frontier’. He speaks volumes of how Mountain Dew nimbly leaps over tensions between ideology and individual experiences by fueling demand for symbolic resolutions that smooth tensions. Holt (2004) explains that the first step in cultural strategy is to map out the myth markets present in play in popular culture and to target the myth market most suitable for the brand. In order to do so, managers will need to understand the three basic building blocks of a myth market: National ideology, Cultural contradictions, and Populist worlds. Holt implores us to think of myths markets as “implicit public conversations centered around the national ideology” (pp. 59). “Mythic archetypes and plotlines are sources of resonant meanings and ideals from which national mythologies are constructed and expropriated to serve specific ideological purposes” (Thompson,
  • 29. Page | 29 2004, pp. 163). These ideologies are taken up by a variety of contenders (popular culture in all its forms) as “national ideology is usually the most powerful root of consumer demand for myth” (Holt, 2004, pp.57). Myths also rely on populist worlds, as “the activities within the populist world are perceived as intrinsically valuable to the participants” (Holt, 2004, pp. 58). Populist worlds are often “set in places far removed from centres of commerce and politics” (Holt, 2004, pp. 59). For worlds that have been commercialised (Example: Sports and Music) , “these populist perceptions are much harder to maintain because the participants must fight off the commercial attributions” (pp. 59). The concept of marketplace mythologies provides an alternative way of thinking about the relationships between the different marketplace articulations and consumer’s lifestyles and narratives of identity. Therefore, when consumers incorporate aspects of marketplace mythology into their self-conceptions, “they are also constructing a relationship to the multiple discourses of power that circulate in their everyday lives” (Thompson, 2004, pp. 170). In the following case study we look closely at the myth markets related to the brand ‘Sachin Tendulkar’ and how they facilitate the lived fantasies people dream of; thus providing a platform for marketers to generate stories appropriate to these ideologies.
  • 30. Page | 30 The Cricket Crazy Nation MARKETPLACE MYTHOLOGY IN INDIA In order to understand the myth markets most suitable for the brand ‘Tendulkar’, I shall analyze the three building blocks of a myth market: National Ideology, Cultural Contradictions and Populist worlds. National Ideology National ideology is a “system of ideas that forges links between everyday life- the aspirations of individuals, families and communities- and those of the nation” (Holt, 2004, pp. 57). No matter how intense I use my vocabulary, it would be close to impossible to explain the craze the game of cricket has in India and its people. A person might not be literate enough to calculate “2+2” but he would definitely know the batting average of Sachin Tendulkar in the previous year. Cricket is India’s de facto national game, if not its only secular religion of late. Ideologies are conveyed through “myths that are usually constructed around ideals and stories of individual success and manhood- what it takes to be a man” (Holt, 2004, pp. 57). The ever so famous World Cup victory in 1983, where India beat the all conquering West Indian side in the final at Lords, and the rise of Sachin Tendulkar are two well renowned events that ignited the passion amongst Indian cricket fans that showed no signs of relenting. “Tracing the evolution of such myths as they are updated to address contemporary social issues is central to charting myth markets” (Holt, 2004, pp. 57).
  • 31. Page | 31 But with the case at hand, Tendulkar’s emergence as a cricketer “meshed perfectly with a wider cultural revolution in India: the information technology boom of the early 1990’s, the growth and development of satellite television, consumerism, and the expansion of cricket literacy” (Nalapat and Parker, 2005, 435). Indeed, some have argued that Tendulkar became a central figure in India’s socio-cultural life precisely because of the “simultaneous burgeoning of the Indian consumer market and the global media revolution” ( Guha, 2002, as cited in Nalapat and Parker, 2005, pp. 435). Others have presented Tendulkar as the ideal brand ambassador because, as stated earlier, he extends individual attributes such as loyalty to the nation and flawless moral character to the commercial sector. Added to this, “televisual representations showcase Tendulkar as a ‘man of the masses’ and as a symbol of nationhood” (Marqusee, 1996, as cited in Nalapat and Parker, 2005). But Tendulkar is no ordinary celebrity figure. His induction into the Indian cricket scene not only came at a time when India was making its mark as a superpower in other fields of the world but also ignited India’s, once known, dominance in the world of cricket. Due to these factors, the imagery of the religion of cricket resonated and seduced, not only in India but across to Indians around the world. Thus this era witnessed the social transformation that bought forth consumer culture. As Ezekiel (2002) concludes, “ In India’s nationalistic climate, Tendulkar stands for Indian aspiration and India’s desire to fling off subservience and take a new station in the world” (Ezekiel, 2002, pp. 303).
  • 32. Page | 32 National ideology is usually considered the most powerful source of consumer demand myth; “though national ideology often intersects and competes with other bases of group identity” (Holt, 2004, pp. 57). Cultural Contradictions Tensions that arise between ideology and individual experience produce intense desires and anxieties, which in turn demand “symbolic resolutions that smooth over tensions.”(Holt, 2004, pp. 57). Foucalt (1982) explains that the power of subjectivity lies in that it “categorises the individual, marks him by his own individuality, attaches him to his identity, and imposes a law of truth on him which he must recognise and which others have to recognise in him” (as cited in Madan, 2000, pp. 26). However, in this post-modern age, disruptions in the subjectification of identities into national subjects are becoming more visible as “identities cross and blur boundaries defined by the modern Nation” (Madan, 2000, pp. 26). In his article “Playing With Modernity: The Decolonization of Indian Cricket”, Appadurai (1996) locates cricket in India in the “realm of popular culture: as a ‘global, media-centered package’, a micronarrative discursivizing a ‘peculiar tension between nationalism and decolonisation’, and as a space through which national, ethnic, and diasporic identities are articulated and played out” (as cited in Madan,2000, pp. 28). It has been said that cricket, with its rules and regulations, was the perfect game for India as it briefly bought organization and discipline to what was essentially a chaotic existence. Cricket literally forms a part of the Indian identity. “Indian identity is much more than cultural, slightly less than citizenship; it is a devotional patriotism, an affinity
  • 33. Page | 33 with a homeland without the corporeal obligations of citizenship” ( Madan, 2000, pp. 31). “The assertation of Indian identity, expression of cultural nationalism or feeling of emotional commonality-these are no longer confined to the pitch, in stadium or post match activities. Rather they become synonymous with a new game’s ethic eloquently exemplified through the redefined everyday culture of cricket” (Majumdar, 2004). Thus with the current question at hand, the national ideology created cricket as a model of living. The distance between the game of cricket and everyday life acts as a cultural engine, which Sachin Tendulkar has tapped into by introducing his athletic gift and heroism, as a myth, that manages the difference. Cricket is nothing less than a ‘religion’ in India
  • 34. Page | 34 Populist worlds “Myths rely on populist worlds as raw ingredients” (Holt, 2004, pp. 58). “The activities within the populist world are perceived as intrinsically valuable to the participants” (Holt, 2004, pp. 57). Holt (2004) also states that activities within the populist world are perceived as intrinsically valuable to the participants as they aren’t motivated by political interests. The passion for cricket in India is unmatched anywhere in the world. India’s love of cricket and devotion to its teams make English football fan’s passion seem like holiday romances. Many Indian companies have sponsored many major cricket tournaments and series around the world. They have pumped in so much money that “the BCCI (Board of Control of Cricket in India) has been supplying the games governing body, International Cricket Council (ICC), with approximately 80 percent of its income” (The Independent, 2008). While cricket was primarily “ an upper-class/caste preserve until the 1880’s, the underprivileged and lower castes began to make their mark as well from the late nineteenth century” (Majumdar , 2004). Cricket would not have become the vehicle for such posturing but for two events. On 25th June 1983, India rocked the cricketing world by defeating the all-conquering West Indies by 43 runs in the World cup finals at Lords. The victory not only fired the imagination of the masses, who henceforth began to perceive cricketers as national icons, but the unexpected victory changed cricket in India forever and overnight it became the nation’s single biggest obsession. “Despite the one-day triumphs, the Eighties brought limited Test success” (The Independent, 2008). But at the end of the decade, on November 15th 1989, a diminutive
  • 35. Page | 35 and angelic looking 16 year old named Sachin Tendulkar made his Test debut against archrivals Pakistan in Karachi. Ever since that Test match, he has carried the aspirations and emotions of more than a billion people. With Sachin Tendulkar bursting onto the scene with his explosive batting, the craze of the One-day and Test match format escaladed in the nation. “In a nation where the cricket enthusiast oscillates between adulation and vandalism, playing cricket is no less difficult than governing the country…..the Indian captains job is as tough as the prime minister’s” (Majumdar, 2004). How Tendulkar coped with such pressure is a miracle in itself. India has many social problems, but they are forgotten and forgiven if the cricket side wins a match or Tendulkar scores a hundred. Harsha Bhogle has said that if either of the above events takes place, “100 million Indians will happily go to sleep at night without food” (as cited in The Independent, 2008). It definitely sounds ridiculous but, amazingly, it would appear to be true. “Thus the game is founded upon a dramatic, a human relation which is universally recognized as the most objectively pervasive and psychologically stimulating in life and therefore in that artificial representation of it which is drama” (C.L.R. James, 1992). Upon reading the article by Clifford Geertz named “Deep Play: Notes on the Balinese Cockfight”, what could be related between Geertz and James was that either felt that Cricket and Cockfights wasn’t any other art form or drama, but a drama of a cultural form in which people, who interacted with cricket or cockfights in anyway, could reflect the way they felt they belonged to it to the world. Thus it also refers to participation in the sport of cricket and not just those who participate in the game as players but also those who follow and watch the game as keen and ardent spectators.
  • 36. Page | 36 Watching India’s matches, identifying with the Indian team and rooting for them gives an Indian spectator the opportunity to reflect upon one’s own place in understanding of the social world. ‘What matters in cricket, as in all the arts, is not finer points but what everyone with some knowledge of the elements can see and feel’ (C.L.R. James, 1992). In order to clarify the markets thirst for mythic narratives, one must first try and understand how myths actually influence the marketplace. Through my current research, it appears the construction of marketplace mythologies helps people make sense of their daily lives. As Holt and Thompson (2004) conclude, “through the construct of marketplace mythology, the conflicts among intersecting discourses of power can be brought into clearer relief” (pp. 173). By submerging myth in consumer culture, individuals have an image or identity to aspire to, thus giving marketers reason to construct marketplace mythologies. Drawing on Holt’s (2004) account that myth markets are based in populist worlds, it becomes clearer how myth markets surface. Consumers in populist worlds are there as they jointly share a passion. They act in such a manner because they want to. Therefore I can conclude that deciding to participate in populist worlds is a form of self- expression, normally expressed through music, art and sports. By implementing myth to the products being advertised, marketers are not actually trying to convince consumers to buy their products but instead they are presenting an ideal for consumers to aspire to which in turn could prompt them to engage the brand in order to build on their self identity.
  • 37. Page | 37 CHAPTER- 3 Iconic Brands Perform as Activists, Leading Culture Holt (2004) further argues that iconic brands function like cultural activists, encouraging people to think differently about themselves. Iconic brands don’t simply evoke benefits, personalities and emotion but instead their myths urge people to reconsider recognized ideas about themselves. The value of the particular myth in a brand “resides not in the myth itself, but in its alignment with society’s incipient identity desires” (Holt, 2004, pp. 9). In this chapter, I shall discuss how Sachin Tendulkar is constructed as a role model for young people. His image will be assessed in terms of its contribution to debates surrounding politics, religion, and Indian nationalism. While Tendulkar affords all hallmarks of celebrity status, his identity remains rooted within the context of certain political and nationalistic values, all of which shape the contours of his iconic status especially in his homeland. KNOWING CRICKET, KNOWING SPORT Its best way to start this whole report is with a question by C.L.R James (1963/ 1983) that frames the entire social theory of cricket: “What do they know of cricket who only cricket know?” This question can’t be answered literally. What James is trying to
  • 38. Page | 38 emphasize here is that there are multiple ways of looking at cricket and not just as a sport. The most familiar form of cricket known to everyone is cricket that involves players, umpires, rules, bats, balls and wickets. These attributes form the “only cricket know” part of James question. This is cricket with a small “c”. But it is the other meaning of cricket, cricket with a capital “C” that James emphasizes in his theory where he believes cricket is not just a game but also an entire social formation. The game, in James view, never just exists in the abstract or in isolation; it is played by actual, specific human beings with individual attributes and social characteristics, in particular historical contexts and in particular ways. Thus Cricket in this sense refers not just to the game but to the players in the game, all those identities and experiences they bring to the game as well as what the game means or represents beyond the usual boundaries of the game itself. SPORTS STARS AS ROLE MODELS In general people need role models and idols. This is especially true in the case of sports stars and idols as they offer essential help and orientation for children and adolescents in particular. Idols and models signify and reinforce the ideals and norms existing in a society or in a specific group. As Biskup and Gertrud (1999) declare, “they make the world more lively and colorful, and they bring sparkle and glamour into the workaday routine” (pp. 199).
  • 39. Page | 39 “It was the rise of the gentleman amateur and the cult of fair play that turned sport into a form of moral education and set up the batsman as a kind of idealized Englishman, striding to the wicket in his whites, wearing the colours of his county or country, to do battle as knights if a new kind if chivalry” (Holt, 1996 as cited in G lines, 2001, pp. 288) Here Holt (1996) talks about the rhetoric of 19th century public school ideological legacy encouraging character development and the making of ‘the man’ through participation on the playing fields, in this case cricket, which still resonate in sporting narrative. Through this particular saying, the construction of sports stars ‘as hero’ thus embodies traditional and idealized values and ethics of the ‘gentleman and amateur’. From a marketing perspective, Bush, Bush and Martin (2004) explore an aspect of sports celebrities as role models through ‘consumer socialization’. In their article, it is stated that consumer socialization “emphasizes sources of influence or ‘socialization agents’ that transmit norms, attitudes, motivations and behaviors to the learner” (Moschis and Churchill, 1978 as cited in Bush, Bush and Martin, 2004, pp. 109). A socialization agent could be “any person or organization directly involved with the individual” (Bush, Bush and Martin, 2004, pp. 109). Socialization agents commonly used include parents, peers, mass media, or in this case great personalities. Whilst carrying on their research on sporting role models, they refer to the ‘vicarious role model’; “anyone the individual comes in contact with directly or indirectly, who has the potential to influence the individuals consumption decisions” (Bandura, 1977 as cited in Bush, Bush and Martin, 2004). A large and very visible part of sports marketing is the vicarious model or the celebrity athlete spokesperson. Seemingly, “advertisers are
  • 40. Page | 40 choosing larger-than-life sports heroes as spokespeople for their products” (Brooks and Harris, 1998 as cited in Bush, Bush and Martin, 2004). Bush, Bush and Martin conclude their research by stating, “celebrity sports athletes have a positive influence on adolescents favorable word of mouth and brand loyalty” (pp. 113). Sports athletes are role models to teenagers as they also look for what is “cool” in products and brands. Modern sport with its principles of contest, outshining one’s opponent and breaking records has been developed in the sporting scenario as far as anyone can recall. Throughout history, sporting performances and success had been the material from which heroes were made. Sport has delivered “the ingredients for dreams and fantasies; suspense and sensation, victories and success, superhuman feats, asceticism and commitment” (Biskup and Gertrud, 1999, pp. 202). The popularity of sporting heroes goes hand in hand not only with the “intense competition in the mass media, the commercialization of sport as well as of sportsmen and sportswomen, but also with young people longing for someone to identify with” (Biskup and Gertrud, 1999, pp. 202). The Other side of Sachin Tendulkar In this section, I shall be concerned with Tendulkar’s popular cultural influence in Indian society both as an international sporting figure and as an ambassador for certain political and ‘national’ values that draw sustenance from religion and culture. Whilst Tendulkar’s sporting success has elevated him in terms of lifestyle circumstance, his public image remains grounded in the realities and complexities of popular cultural
  • 41. Page | 41 struggle, his appeal proving as prevalent amongst the urban slums of the country’s largest cities. As Ezekiel (2002) states, “Tendulkar is all things to all people” At a very basic level, the unique racial organization of cricket provided the Indians more generally with an otherwise unparalleled medium of social interaction, communication and self expression, a source of social solidarity, collective identities and express collective sentiments. The Indian team and its players serve as symbols to each and every community, which is a way to establish collective identities and express collective sentiments. And the best way to talk about players and way they help in identities and sentiments is to talk about Sachin Tendulkar and the impact he has on the nation. Tendulkar is to the history of Indian cricket what Gandhi was to the history of the Indian freedom struggle-the first individual who’s regional, religious and caste identities were transmuted into an amorphous national identity by agents mediating between them and the public. (Appadurai ,1995, as cited in Abilash Nalapat and Andrew Parker, 2005). Others have presented Tendulkar as the ideal brand ambassador because he extends personal attributes such as loyalty and impeccable moral character to the commercial sector .Added to this, television showcase Tendulkar as the “Man of the masses” and as a symbol of nationhood. His impact on the nation is so broad its experience is indescribable. But I shall point out instances where cricket celebrities, in this case Sachin Tendulkar, have contributed towards politics, nationalism and multiculturism.
  • 42. Page | 42 TENDULKAR AND GANDHIAN NATIONALISM It’s a well-known fact that the political tensions between India and Pakistan are on a very high scale. Nevertheless the celebratory atmosphere of 1999 can be pictured as a crucial moment in Tendulkar’s story, particularly with regard to India’s international cricketing commitments against Pakistan that year. During 1991, Sachin Tendulkar had just made a small number of appearances his appearance for India. Pakistan were going to tour India and their first match was going to be played in Bombay at the Wankhede stadium. But Bal Thackeray, the founder and leader of the Shiv Sena (the Indian Hindu nationalist party) and de facto chief minister of the Maharashtra region of India, expressed his opinion that he didn’t approve of Pakistan playing on Indian soil and his party members vandalized the playing surface before Pakistan’s tour of India. The tour was eventually called off due to ‘security reasons’. Pakistan were going to tour India again in 1999. People in India and all over the world were looking forward to this series as nothing beats a well battled match between two nations that embrace one of the oldest cricketing rivalries known. But Bal Thackeray was going to do the same again as he did in 1991. “Thackeray threatened to mobilize a protest of vandalism at the series venues…….and warned that his ‘party men’ would respond to his exhortations” (Nalapat and Parker, 2005, 436). Although Thackeray was in fact attempting to hold the 1999 tour, Tendulkar’s fame had risen at a colossal rate and media celebrations of Tendulkar’s prevailed .
  • 43. Page | 43 Children welcoming Pakistani fans, who crossed the Indo-Pak border, to watch Pakistan play on Indian soil after a gap of 10 years. Entitled ‘Spoilsport Thackeray: Tendulkar Symbolises Maharashtra’s Pride’, the article, written by Rajdeep Sardesai (1999) who is a famous Indian journalist, stated that cricket and Tendulkar were the central supporters of Maharashtrian middle-class identity. Sardesai draws the historical alteration of Shiv Sena’s agenda from “Maharashtrian self respect in the 1960’s to the militant Hindu nationalism of the 1980s, and points out that by using cricket as the site for expressing this backlash, Thackeray was historically blinded to the fact that for 50 years the game had been the only remaining bastion of Maharashtrian middle-class dominance” (Nalapat and Parker, 2005, 437). Sardesai concludes by stating that if Thackeray was indeed a true nationalist, he would have had encouraged Tendulkar to show his genius against Pakistan rather than threatening to have the venue vandalized.
  • 44. Page | 44 The article attempted not only to analyze Tendulkar’s location in Indian public life but it also counterposed the ‘healthy’ nationalism of Tendulkar against the ‘xenophobia- dressed-up-as-nationalism’ of Thackeray. This was because Tendulkar was now a part of Indian public life as he is showcased as a person related to the wider notions of ‘Indian nationalism’ .Thus Tendulkar, being from the same state of Maharashtra as Thackeray, had more political significance. TENDULKAR AND HINDUTVA India is a place of diverse cultures, different languages, beliefs and religion. But cricket is one religion, which they all preach. Cricket is practiced as a religion in India – a religion with a difference. Cricket in India does not divide the masses. The game has a very strong unifying factor for all Indians. This “cricket religion” raises above all differences of cast, gender or social background. All the players in team India are from different states, following different cultures and religions. But once they are out on the field, they represent only India. As soon as Tendulkar became the captain of the Indian cricket team for the second time he told his fellow players that ‘Hindi’ would be the official Indian language in the locker room and that the use of other Indian languages would not be entertained. These languages, according to him created an ambience of ‘regionalism’ rather than one of ‘nationalism’. This instruction was something similar to one of Gandhi’s insistences that Hindi be taught all over India so that the nationalist cause could be served through a common language.
  • 45. Page | 45 On the matter of interventions in caste, Sachin’s special friendship and partnership with Vinod Kambli (The first Dalit cricketer to have represented post-Independent India in cricket) can be seen as departure from the watchful and conformist positions that Tendulkar has adopted. Tendulkar was bought up in a respectable household whereas Kambli was a son of a mechanic but their friendship started in school and last’s till this day. They both even had a world record partnership in school as the pair scored 664 runs. But later on when both started main their name in the national squad, the upper- caste dominated Indian-English media mercilessly highlighted Kambli’s sporting failures and his extravagant lifestyle. Ultimately, he was left out of the national squad. But once Sachin became captain, he fought for Kambli’s inclusion. Some would see this as a case of friendship and partiality. But his actions pointed out political importance in a context that offered few other modes of social organization and affirmation for minority people. ‘As much as their performance of the cricket field, Indian cricketers should be feted for the example they have set off it- for rekindling the hope that we are, and ever will be, a notion that unites in diversity’ (Boria Majumdar, 2004). TENDULKAR: HERO OF A GENERATION Every generation has its own heroes and icons. Indians are the contemporaries of Sachin Tendulkar, having grown up with him. He is not just another great sportsman or a great cricketer but instead, he represents the aspirations, dreams, moralities, values of
  • 46. Page | 46 an entire generation. Tendulkar has helped an entire generation raise its self esteem and feel like equals in an otherwise hopelessly mismatched sporting world. All differences, young-old, rich-poor, religion-language, disappear when people see Tendulkar padded up and walking in to bat. At 26, Tendulkar was the youngest to be featured by ‘India Today’ in their ‘100 People Who Shaped India’ special issue in 1999 (Millennium Series, as cited in Ezekiel, 2002). But what Tendulkar showcased on the 15th December 2008, demonstrated his healing and unifying power in the game. People crowd around Yuvraj Singh (left) and Sachin Tendulkar, after Tendulkar’s brilliant unbeaten century and victory over England eased the grief the nation was going through. Less than three weeks before the above stated date, the whole world was shaken to its core when innocent people were being slaughtered by terrorists in the streets, bars, hotels, train stations and religious centers of India’s biggest city Mumbai. When Tendulkar, a grieving city’s favourite son, hit his hundred and the winning runs, Indians
  • 47. Page | 47 had just witnessed one of the greatest Test matches, “ a sporting epic, a match that went beyond victory and defeat, a match that eased a nations agonies with the kind of heroics that, blissfully, did not involve life and death” ( Holt, 2008). Its bold message was not just that cricket and sport will continue in the face of November, 2008 terror attacks on Mumbai but that normal life will continue. Tendulkar had been touched by the massacre himself as two of the dead were parents at his daughter’s school. At the end of the emphatic victory against England, he dedicated the victory to the whole of India. ‘This won’t make people forget about what happened in Mumbai. Whatever we can contribute, we’ve been able to do that. We’re right with the people who have lost their dear ones. I hope our victory and my hundred will give an amount of happiness to people, but what happened in Mumbai, it’s very hard to recover from that. This is not just for Mumbai. It is for every Indian. It is for all of us after the terrible things we have been through” (The Mirror, Holt, 2008). India’s cricket hero, who conjured an ending that might have been penned in Bollywood, made his country smile again. On December 21st 2008, Indian icon Sachin Tendulkar was declared as ‘The best role model’ in a nationwide poll after he came ahead of former President A.P.J Abdul Kalam and Bollywood megastar Amitabh Bachchan (IBN.com, 2008). As well known editor Manoj Khatri states, “It is a gift to him for whatever he has given for India to be proud of” (as cited in IBN.com, 2008).
  • 48. Page | 48 CHAPTER- 4 Identity Myths Reside in the Brand, Which Consumers Experience and Share As the brand performs its myth, customers eventually recognize that the myth exists in the brands markers as “the brand becomes a symbol, a material embodiment of the myth” (Holt, 2004). Customers grasp hold of the myth as they use the product as a means to lessen their identity burdens. Holt (2004) argues that customers who make use of the brands myth for their identities “forge tight emotional connections to the brand” (Holt, 2004, pp. 8). Great myths provide their consumers with little epiphanies as they “use iconic brand as symbolic salves” (Holt, 2004, pp. 8). In the following sections, I shall explore into how a brand serves as a symbolic or self-expressive function. IMPACT OF BRANDS I will now set out to explain and understand ‘brand Sachin’, but before I do we need to agree some terms of reference. What is a brand? How do companies build brands? Can celebrities use similar methods and what do we mean by a celebrity brand anyway? Let’s start with the first question, what is a brand? The American Marketing Association defines a brand as “a name, term, sign, symbol, or design, or a combination of them, intended to identify the goods or services of one seller or group of sellers and to differentiate them from those of competitors” (Kotler and Keller, 2006, pp. 276). Milligan (2004) though argues that the word ‘brand’ has been devalued and misapplied
  • 49. Page | 49 as people “associate brands with packaged goods, cars and other heavily advertised consumable or durable products. But brands are much more than that” (Milligan, 2004, pp. 28). For example, even though the global brand Starbucks has a distinctive name and logo, it hardly advertises at all when compared to the likes of Apple, BMW or Nokia. That is because they don’t need to, as it has created a strong customer experience. In fact, their stores are like living advertisements as they not only advertise and promote the brand but also invite you to come in and try the experience. “Brands simplify complex experiences, allowing people to make rapid choices on a limited amount of information” (Milligan, 2004, pp. 30). Milligan further argues how the product is packaged and promoted, where and how it is sold and increasingly, how the people behave who represent that product all “combine to create a profound impression in people’s mind that will help determine whether we prefer and stay loyal to a particular brand” (pp. 28). When we understand a brand works in such a manner, it’s possible to see that anything protected as a trademark can be a brand. Celebrities, and in this case sports stars, clearly qualify as brands. Their names can be guarded by trademarks as they have distinctive attributes that can be functional (plays immaculate cover drives like no one else) or emotional (charisma and charm), as they have well defined identities and they command a loyal following that can endure long after their product has been superseded. Milligan (2004) believes the reason we buy into celebrities as we buy into brands is because they add color and excitement to our life. I agree with Milligan as we admire what sports stars do and what they represent. They provide a meaning or sense of aspiration in our lives that few of us can supply on our own.
  • 50. Page | 50 BRAND PERSONALITY In consumer behavior research, many researchers have focused on how the personality of a brand allows a consumer to express his or her own self (Belk, 1988), an ideal self (Malhotra, 1988) or specific dimensions of the self (Kleine, Kleine, and Kernan, 1993) through the use of a brand. Experts in this field view it as significant way to differentiate a brand in a product category, “as a central driver of consumer preference and usage and as a common denominator that can be used to market a brand across cultures” ( Aaker, 1997). Aaker (1997) formally defines brand personality as “the set of human characteristics associated with a brand” (pp. 347). In contrast to ‘product-related attributes’, which tend to serve a utilitarian function for consumers, “brand personality tends to serve a symbolic or self expressive function” (Keller, 1993 as cited in Aaker, 1997). To illustrate, Absolute Vodka in person tends to be depicted as a cool, hip, contemporary 25 year old compared to other brands in the same product category. It is argued that “the symbolic use of brands is possible because consumers often imbue brands with human personality traits (termed animism; e.g., Glimore, 1919 as cited in Aaker, 1997, pp. 347). Through strategies used by advertisers to imbue a brand with personality traits , “consumers easily think about brands as if they were celebrities or famous historical figures” (Rook, 1985 as cited in Aaker, 1997, pp. 347). Through such strategies, the personality traits associated with brands, such as those associated with an individual, tend to be relatively enduring and distinct (Aaker, 1997). I shall illustrate this point by speaking of Holts (2004) example about the personality traits of Coke. He states that Coca Cola associates itself with traits such as cool, all American
  • 51. Page | 51 and real. These traits are relatively enduring and differentiate them from its competitors such as Pepsi and Dr. Pepper. Motivated by the logic used by previous researchers, Aaker examines how the relationship between brand and human personality help drive consumer preferences. After developing a framework of brand personality, the result suggested that consumers perceive that brands have five distinct personality dimensions: Sincerity, Excitement, Competence, Sophistication and Ruggedness. Although it could be argued that three brand personality dimensions relate to three of the ‘Big Five’ human personality dimensions, two dimensions (Sophistication and Ruggedness) differ as they “tap a dimension that individuals desire but do not necessarily have” (Aaker, 1997, pp. 353). Aaker (1997) further argues that perceptions of brand personality traits can be formed and influenced by any direct or indirect contact that the consumer has with the brand. Personality traits are associated with a brand in a direct way by the people linked to the brand. This could be through brands user imagery, which is defined here as “the set of human characteristics associated with the typical user of the brand” (Aaker,1997,pp. 348). In this way, “the personality traits of the people associated with the brand are transferred directly to the brand” (McCracken, 1989 as cited in Aaker, 1997). The Story of Brand ‘Tendulkar’ “The entry of multinational companies into the Indian market after the opening up of the economy in 1991, the massive appeal cricket enjoys all over India, and the
  • 52. Page | 52 explosion in the number of one-day matches combined with the birth of cable TV- were all factors in the marketing success of Tendulkar” (Ezekiel, 2002, pp. 313). Sachin Tendulkar was signed up by WorldTel chief Mark Mascarenhas in October 1995 for a five year deal worth $7.5 million (Ezekiel, 2002, pp. 311). It made the front pages of all the national papers in India as the sum was considered exorbitant, more than any other Indian sportsperson could have ever dreamed of. In May 2001, the contract was renewed, this time reportedly for $17.5 million . In the world of cricket, Sachin Tendulkar is a unique individual. He’s a brilliant cricketer, superb athlete, celebrity, soon to be film star and comic hero. And he has now also been tagged by the consumer society as a ‘brand’. He is so many different things. So when we think about ‘Tendulkar-the brand’, we must start by considering Tendulkar the product. What is it that he has done so well? What allows him to stay within the public consciousness? What gives him that fundamental legitimacy? I shall now analyze certain aspects behind the brand Tendulkar. TENDULKAR’S BRAND IDENTITY Tendulkar’s brand identity is one of the most celebrated, but it shows all the hallmarks of a cleverly conceived and well-managed brand strategy. Let’s start with the building block of his brand identity: his name (or names): -
  • 53. Page | 53  Sachin Ramesh Tendulkar  Sachin Tendulkar  Tendulkar  The Little Master Blaster As Milligan (2004) states, “often the hardest job for any marketer faced with a new product is to work out what to call it” (pp. 74). Think of the magical names like Sir Don Bradman, Brian Lara or Imran Khan. Other sports have player’s suggestive names like ‘Magic’ Johnson or Tiger Woods. But Sachin Tendulkar sounds like a typical Maharashtrian state name. Sachin, for a fact, is a very common name in India. But if we go back to Sachin Tendulkar’s brand values – especially his down-to-earth ordinary appeal and genuineness- we can see that this very ordinariness suits the brand extremely well. In the marketing on the Tendulkar brand, there have been no shortcomings for the remarkable ordinariness of the man. On the contrary, it has been a positive asset. Tendulkar radiates of a normal bloke who shows what a person can achieve through dedication and talent. Therefore, his brand names are thus an ideal match with his brand image. So ‘Sachin Tendulkar’ or just ‘Tendulkar’ can be used in different ways and at different times to sell different types of products. The brands Tendulkar currently endorses represent a wide variety of products. The current list of endorsements includes Visa, Britannia, Pepsi, Fiat, Adidas, MRF, TVS (Bikes) and Boost. He also has a high end chain of restaurants called ‘Tendulkars’. Only liquor and cigarettes have always been taboo. He states that, “if people look up to me, I’ve got to set the right example”
  • 54. Page | 54 (Ezekiel, 2002, pp. 314). The most lucrative and high-profile deal for Tendulkar was clinched with the Chennai based MRF tyre company, as they used the back of his broad bat as prime advertising. The MRF logo, which is on the back of his broad bat, is the most lucrative and high profile deal. There are also the characteristic Tendulkar poses. One is the celebrating hero pose that has been captured many times and turned into posters that everyone loves. Yet another is the serious model pose used to best effect in the marketing of credit cards, cars or even social awareness programmes. And then there is the dedicated, focused, intense professional that gazes out of thousand posters promoting cricket or sports products.
  • 55. Page | 55 Brand identity can be represented via four dimensions specified by Aaker (1997): brand as product, brand as organisation, brand as person and brand as symbol. It is the metaphor of brand as person in which I am most concerned in this thesis. I shall analyze Tendulkar’s brand personality in the next section. TENDULKAR’S BRAND PERSONALITY When asked about the Tendulkar’s marketing phenomenon, Alyque Padamsee, also known as the god of Indian advertising, states that, “ When a cricketer achieves the status of Don Bradman, he becomes a global brand. In other words, he is constantly recognizable as the Coke bottle or the Marlboro Cowboy. He becomes more than a personality. He becomes a saleable persona” (Ezekiel, 2002, pp. 315). There are three main attributes that cut across all areas of Tendulkar’s life and strengthen his appeal: dedication, iconic sense of style and a down-to-earth humanity. Dedication This is the first and most important of Tendulkar’s key attributes. People use many different words to describe it: commitment, determination, loyalty, hard working, professional and relentless. They also use phrases to match these words, such as: “He gives a 110 percent” or “Look how much he gives for his country”. Even though Tendulkar has the natural ingredients in the making of an iconic cricketer, his dedication has been his biggest asset. He has worked at his game to ensure he is never carried by his team, but if anything carries it. Cricket fans all around the world would agree that it was his hard work that made a huge difference in his career.
  • 56. Page | 56 After the ‘desert storm’ match against India, Australian great Shane Warne had mentioned about Tendulkar that, “He was unstoppable. I don’t think anyone, apart from Don Bradman, is in the same as Sachin Tendulkar. He is just an amazing player” (Source: Wikipedia). Former New Zealand all- rounder Richard Hadlee believes Tendulkar is the greatest batsman to ever grace the game (Source: Wikipedia). West Indian legend Brian Lara said, “You know a genius when you see it. And let me tell you, Sachin is pure genius” (Source: Wikipedia). When a player with prodigious talent gets admired for being in the same class as the legendary Don Bradman and his brilliance is cited as a genius of the game, it cannot be argued that Tendulkar achieved far more thanks to his relentless pursuit of greatness. Such verdicts can be tested against our own experiences. As stated earlier, the innings that Tendulkar played in the ‘desert storm’ match against Australia proved his dominance in world cricket. Tendulkar was determined to prove a point to the critics who had insulted him and his team on their performance against ‘bigger’ nations in vital matches (Ezekiel, 2002). “The world champions Australia were sent reeling by the murderous assault and wilted in the desert heat” (Ezekiel, 2002, pp. 201). “The prodigy had helped India turn the tide in the match, transforming the seemingly inevitable disappointment of millions into jubilation at his wondrous act” (Ezekiel, 2002, pp. 64). It was a natural unconscious display of his character and personality: the values he holds dear dramatized at a moment when there was no place to hide. This is what people recall about Sachin Tendulkar and why so many people like him. His dedication makes Tendulkar an ideal spokesman for many sports brands. In late 1999, Adidas showed advertisements about Sachin Tendulkar where he relates his
  • 57. Page | 57 ‘Impossible is Nothing’ story from the days he trained under his most admired coach, Ramakant Achrekar at the Mumbai Maidan's (grounds). The Adidas commercial captured the struggle and determination of India's greatest sporting hero through personal artwork. ‘Impossible Is Nothing’ is a campaign by Adidas focusing on athlete stories. By showing stars devoting themselves to their craft, “Adidas was tapping into people’s respect and admiration for authentic sports performers” (Milligan, 2004, pp. 50). “Adidas has grown by over 200% after signing on Tendulkar in 1998” according to Managing Director Tarun Kunzru (as cited in Ezekiel, 2002, pp. 315). Iconic Sense of Style I use the word iconic advisedly: it means having the quality of an icon. Everything that Tendulkar does has quality, from the way he celebrates his innings, which has now been portrayed in the form of a logo, to the way he plays cricket. This creates a unique set of symbols around him. Tendulkar has always shown a preference for the flamboyant as long it has a sensible purpose. “It would be terrible if only 10 people came to watch. As a cricketer I try to give pleasure, and the more people that watch and applaud, the more pleasure I get myself. I wouldn’t swap it” Tendulkar told Mark Nicholas in an interview (as cited in Ezekiel, 2002, pp. 318). You could say its ego but Tendulkar has achieved what all superstars strive for, to harness that ego in a positive manner.
  • 58. Page | 58 As a cricketer, Tendulkar is known for and specializes in his batting. His vast array of shot selection and his signature shots: the cover drive dissecting fielders and the straight drive over the bowlers head are the most beautiful and dramatic shots in any sport, combining bat speed and accuracy from the point the ball strikes the bat to the moment the ball crashes to a halt at the boundary. But it isn’t just his batting: his skills to bowl and capture wickets at vital moments are not only brilliant pieces of play, but artistically pleasing. ‘Look to the Heavens’: This trademark pose has also been transformed into a wax statue at Madame Tussauds. As stated earlier, Tendulkar has renewed his contract with WorldTel in 2001. However, the renewed contract also saw a new-look Sachin appearing in commercials for the likes of Home Trade, with the Sydney cricket ground as the setting. The boyish curls weren’t visible, in was the goatee complete with a trendy stubble and new hairstyle. There was a boy-to-man image transformation. “Sachin had a great recall
  • 59. Page | 59 value among men and kids. But after the Home Trade commercials, even women go ‘wow Sachin’ ” (Times of India, as cited in Ezekiel, 2002, pp. 316) Tendulkar seems exceptional in his ability to appeal to almost everyone. Man and women love him, old folks adore him, young kids idolize him and they all treat him as an icon. And the reason he can hold all these different people together is because he strikes them as genuine, just as the late Princess Diana always seemed to have the common touch. Down to earth Humanity It may seem odd to use this phrase about a person who has fame, wealth and the highest paid cricketer in the Indian national squad (apart from the gains from his advertisement ventures), but it’s true. His approach to life is essentially modest. From the start of his career, Tendulkar hasn’t engaged in any sort of public eye controversy that would harm his ‘Mr. Clean’ tag. He may not have the most charismatic of personalities, but while he has more than enough street cred to stay relevant to young people, his usually amiable image ensures he is unlikely to bring any brand linked with him into ill repute. Despite his celebrity lifestyle, Tendulkar remains level headed about his fame, and has constantly put it into the broader context of his life. Tendulkar’s priorities in life have always been clear. Family, cricket and commercials- in that order. “His life is cricket, but not without his family. They go with him everywhere” (Ezekiel, 2002, pp.
  • 60. Page | 60 317). However, a heavy price of fame would be the loss of privacy. “My family life is altogether a different issue. I have always kept it a private affair and I don’t want that to be public. Even today they [his family] look after me and ensure that my feet are on the ground” he told the Week (November, 1998 as cited in Ezekiel, 2002, pp. 320). ‘This boy is from heaven. He will do anything’- Tim Laine, Former South African Cricketer, on Tendulkar He is not only a role model for millions of Indians but also his team-mates who respect him. This is the level of popularity that he enjoys and shows how he is the most popular sportsman in the world. Virender Sehwag, who has been compared to Tendulkar’s style of play, had this to say, “How can I be compared with the great man!....Just see how many matches he’s won for India. I mean he’s God when he’s out there in the middle..Until then, I had never known that Sachin was so humble, but I was soon to realise just how down to earth he is. If I became a regular member of the Indian team, it was largely because of his help. I’ve not come across a player who is so inspiring” (Ezekiel, 2002, pp. 291).
  • 61. Page | 61 Tendulkar’s values directly shape his personality and people’s perceptions of it. His brand personality is that of a man who is zealous about the things he believes in and dedicated to his art. Being a charismatic leader, he is calm and composed in the spotlight and a natural role model for his peers. THE TOTAL PACKAGE We live in a world where we demand constant inspiration, seek instant satisfaction and pursue vicarious fulfilment through celebrity glamour- a world where brands provide us with a sense of identity, a shared language and a means of accomplish our aspirations. Sachin Tendulkar’s combination of glamour and marketing savvy has built a unique brand that is accepted and admired around the world. Tendulkar as a brand is a perfect symbol of our times. Tendulkar’s dedication to his game and his family strikes a chord with many people. It shows in everything he does and gives him the authenticity to build his brand. His desire to be the best and his balancing of professional and personal commitments influence our aspirations and allow us to identify with a common human dilemma. Why is this dedication and down to earth humanity of Tendulkar so important in terms of his brand image? It’s because consumers have become more marketing literate and, as a result, more sceptical of the claims that companies make for their products and services. Consumers these days are hostile and fed up with hype. They want the evidence of their own experiences.
  • 62. Page | 62 CONCLUSION Drawing upon Holt’s (2004) research in socio cultural analysis, this thesis illustrates several key axioms of the ‘cultural branding’ model which explain how iconic brands evolve and are sustained over time. As I have demonstrated throughout this research carried out, Holt found out that brands have followed a set of tacit principles- the cultural branding model- that are entirely different from the principles found in conventional branding frameworks. The nurturing of emotionally charged relationships with customers is vital to the success of brands in several important sectors of the economy, especially business-to- business firms, services and retailers. These sectors create value in their face to face interactions with customers. But iconic brands are built in a different way. Customers emotional associations results from the effectiveness of the brand’s myth in solving customer identities anxieties. Further, following Levi-Strauss’s (1955) claim that in order to find the meaning in mythology one must look at how the individual elements of a myth are combined, I focused on a story surrounding Sachin Tendulkar to demonstrate how mythologies are constructed. Claude Levi Strauss’s contribution to his analysis involves certain main features where he concludes by stating, “the purpose of myth is to provide a logical model capable of overcoming contradictions or paradoxes in natural and social experience” (Sidney J.Levy, 1981, pp. 51). Holt (2004) also supports this point by stating that myths smooth over tensions, “helping people create purpose in their lives and cement their desired identity in place when it is under stress” (pp. 8). By immersing Tendulkar in the context of marketplace mythology, I have illustrated that there is a clear relationship between mythology and marketing. Therefore, it is felt that
  • 63. Page | 63 when a person becomes a model for other people’s lives, he has moved into a sphere of being mythologized. However, due to the dynamic nature of myths, marketers must be constantly be aware of cultural disruptions that can change the popularity of a myth. In cultural branding, managers must identify an appropriate myth market as they “compete with other cultural products to perform myths that resolve cultural contradictions” (Holt, 2004, pp. 39). The concept of marketplace mythologies provides an alternative way of thinking about the relationships between the different marketplace articulations and consumer’s lifestyles and narratives of identity. Therefore, when consumers incorporate aspects of marketplace mythology into their self-conceptions, “they are also constructing a relationship to the multiple discourses of power that circulate in their everyday lives” (Thompson, 2004, pp. 170). This thesis also drew attention to the ways in which the social and cultural construction of heroes is determined. Sport has delivered “the ingredients for dreams and fantasies; suspense and sensation, victories and success, superhuman feats, asceticism and commitment” (Biskup and Gertrud, 1999, pp. 202). The popularity of sporting heroes goes hand in hand not only with the “intense competition in the mass media, the commercialization of sport as well as of sportsmen and sportswomen, but also with young people longing for someone to identify with” (Biskup and Gertrud, 1999, pp. 202). We must accept that these representations are, more than often that not, strategically managed and finely crafted portraits of the person whom marketing and advertising executives wish to depict. Over the years, celebrity status has facilitated an expression of Tendulkar’s broader religious and political beliefs. It allowed an
  • 64. Page | 64 exploration of his autonomy with regard to the decision-making powers of the Indian cricketing establishment. Nowadays, major brands cut to the chase and tell their audiences directly that the brand and its customers do indeed have a powerful and strong emotional attachment. “Brand management is about stewardship: finding the brands true essence and maintaining this compass point, come hell or high water” (holt, 2004, pp. 37). Over time, as the brand performs its myth, the audience eventually perceives that the myth resides in the brands markers. “The brand becomes a symbol, a material embodiment of the myth” (Holt, 2004, pp. 8). Great myths provide their consumers with little epiphanies as they “use iconic brand as symbolic salves” (Holt, 2004, pp. 8). In order to find out how iconic brands use the brands myth to forge tight emotional ties with customers, I also analysed the brand identity and brand personality of the brand ‘Sachin Tendulkar’. In terms of its consequence, previous researchers have suggested that brand personality increases consumer preference and usage (Sirgy, 1982, as cited in Aaker, 1997), evokes emotions in consumers (Biel, 1993 as cited in Aaker, 1997) and increases levels of trust and loyalty (Fournier, 1994, as cited in Aaker, 1997). Not only are these declarations very evident with brand ‘Sachin Tendulkar’, as the brand delivers a powerful myth that customers find useful in cementing their identities, but the identity value casts a halo on other aspects of the brand as well. One final thought, I hope that when you finish reading this dissertation, your respect and admiration for Sachin Tendulkar and what he has achieved both as a cricketer and as a celebrity icon of the twenty first century will be intensified.
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