NEW DELHI: Luxury carmaker Audi and sportswear major Puma on Monday said they still have confidence in the strong brand equity of Virat Kohli, who has stepped down as the captain of Indian Test cricket team, saying he has inspired and will continue to inspire those who follow cricket as well as who don't.
On the other hand, market analysts believe that Kohli's brand value will drop as Indian cricket captains have always had a lion's share of endorsements.
Last week, Kohli who endorses a host of brands including Puma, Audi, Hero MotoCorp, Tissot, MRF, Vivo, Blue Star and Myntra, stepped down from the captainship of the national Test cricket team.
Kohli is among one of the highest-paid endorsers of the country and holds the top position in the Duff & Phelps' Celebrity Brand Valuation Report 2020 with a brand value of USD 237.7 million.
"Virat Kohli perfectly embodies the progressive, premium image of brand Audi. He has been a part of the Audi India family for a long time and is clearly a great fit for the brand, as both exemplify brilliant innovation in their performance," Head of Audi India, Balbir Singh Dhillon told PTI.
German sports brand Puma, which had inked a Rs 110 crore deal with Kohli in 2017 for a period of eight years, has also backed him.
"Virat Kohli leaves behind an outstanding legacy of captaincy. He is an exceptional performer as a leader, a player and overall as an athlete. He has inspired and will continue to inspire everyone who keenly follows cricket and even those who don't. It's our privilege at PUMA to be in a long-term partnership with Virat," said Puma MD Abhishek Ganguly.
The passion with which he plays the sport and his discipline as an athlete will enthuse masses of people in India and outside for a long time, he added.
Besides, Kohli owns a stake in apparel brand 'WROGN' and endorses it.
The ace cricketer also backs fintech startup Digit Insurance.
Even on Monday, Kohli shared a new campaign for handset maker Vivo through his Twitter handle.
However, some experts such as Rediffusion Managing Director Sandeep Goyal differ, saying brand Kohli is going to lose sheen.
"Sans captaincy, Brand Virat Kohli is going to lose a lot of sheen. In India, captains have always taken a lion's share of endorsements and Virat is going to lose a number of his brands and make way for the new leaders of the team," he said.
His present brand equity is bound to get diluted - from being the only one as captain, he will now be only 1 of 11, Goyal added.