India’s Cleartrip Taps Cricket Star Dhoni as Brand Ambassador

Skift Take

We’re not entirely sure if this is Dhoni’s grand finale in the Indian Premier League cricket scene, but one thing’s clear — Captain Cool is making his debut innings with Cleartrip!

Indian online travel company Cleartrip has signed former captain of the Indian cricket team, Mahendra Singh Dhoni, as its latest brand ambassador.

Cleartrip CEO Ayyappan Rajagopal had sparked intrigue this week with a teaser campaign about a brand ambassador but didn’t disclose the identity until Saturday.

“As we chart a new course of growth for Cleartrip, our association with Dhoni will help reinforce brand visibility in a highly cluttered market,” Rajagopal said to Skift.

Dhoni is famously known as “Captain Cool” and Cleartrip plans to capitalize on his widespread appeal across generations and regions.

“Together with Mahendra Singh Dhoni we are sure we will inspire a whole new category of users to book with us and experience travel like never before,” he said.

Last month, Cleartrip launched “Out of Office,” a corporate travel management product. The online travel agency had said post-Covid corporate travel has been on the rise in India and it wants to focus on this sector.

Celebrity Power for Brands

Cleartrip’s move reflects a broader trend in the advertising landscape where celebrities, particularly cricketers and Bollywood stars, wield significant influence over consumer behavior, making them prime candidates for endorsements.

Cricket, often described as a religion in India, boasts a fanatical following, with cricketers elevated to the status of demigods. Advertisers recognize this influence.

Dhoni retired from international cricket in 2020, and continues to play for the Chennai Super Kings in the Indian Premier League (IPL).

Dhoni’s endorsement portfolio, with over 35 brands across various sectors, showcases his enduring popularity and marketability.

According to Kroll’s Celebrity Brand Valuation Report in 2022, Dhoni’s brand value stood at $80.3 million and he was the sixth-highest-ranked celebrity.

Travel Companies Wield Celebrity Power was one of the sponsors of the ICC Cricket World Cup that took place in India last year. The online travel agency had also partnered with the captain of the Indian cricket team Rohit Sharma as brand ambassador for the world cup campaign.

Travel brands signing Bollywood celebrities and cricketers as brand ambassadors is not new but has evolved significantly in the past decade.

In October, MakeMyTrip-owned online travel agency Goibibo announced that it has signed Bollywood actress Kareena Kapoor Khan as its brand ambassador. MakeMyTrip has chosen two of the biggest movie stars in India Ranveer Singh and Alia Bhatt.

Agoda has also made significant moves in the Indian market, including appointing Ayushmann Khurana as its brand ambassador, launching its first TV ad in India.

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