Sachin Tendulkar - The face that sold

Sachin TendulkarFrom showing him as a young icon to bidding him adieu, ads have charted Sachin Tendulkar's cricket life over the years

From showing him as a young icon to bidding him adieu, ads have charted Sachin's cricket life over the years.

It begins in the quiet of a church. A group of nuns pray, clutching on to their crosses and peering into a muted television set. Elsewhere, a sari-clad grandmother places her wiry hand over a lace of rudraksh. She flicks a bead, even as a spectator's spectacles are attacked by a wasp. He doesn't seem to care enough to notice. Neither do the suits in a conference room, when the telephone rings. The focus of this universe is on just one man the batsman stepping out of his crease in a cricket ground.

This is how one particular Sachin Tendulkar advertisement from the '90s begins. As far as marketing is concerned, the commercial gave impossible a shot. For the product being sold is never seen and voice-overs don't ever mention a brand. Yet, even without the crutch of words or images, they ended up achieving another impossible that of narrating Tendulkar's story within 60 seconds. Was he a religious experience for you too? And did the world around you stop every time he danced down the track? Just asking.

Back to the plot. Now, Tendulkar meets the ball. Beer mugs shake. And a child is frozen mid-run in his school corridor. The ball soars for a six and time wakes up from its slumber. Mugs shatter. The old lady weeps and the young nuns simultaneously cross their shoulders. Behind Tendulkar, the stumps slant and shrink into the Three Stripes of Adidas. The boy, now unfrozen, exhales and continues his run. Did you run as well, to the closest outlet and purchase every apparel on offer? Don't lie.

The consumer in me did. It wanted to wear Adidas shorts, drink bottles of Pepsi and drive around in a Fiat Palio. On MRF tyres, no less. It craved to munch Britannia biscuits and then brush off the crumbs with Colgate's dental set. It wanted to use VISA's power to buy a Philips TV set, so that ESPN-Star Sports could be tuned into, where commercials regarding Canon cameras and Reynolds pens are aired. Every product Tendulkar endorsed, the consumer needed. And in his career, the cricketer didn't just endorse plenty, the ads he featured in held a mirror to the different phases of his life.

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