Indian cricket captain Virat Kohli may disassociate himself with the fraud-hit public lender Punjab National Bank. The state-owned bank signed Virat Kohli as its brand ambassador to revive its brand value in September 2017. With a brand evaluation of over $144 million - more than Bollywood superstar Shah Rukh Khan - Virat Kohli is the most valuable celebrity in the country. Conscious of his brand image, Kohli may not renew his contract, which ends later this year, says a report in The Economic Times.
The band image of the public sector bank has taken a hit after it detected the fraud worth over Rs 12,700 at its Mumbai branch in February. Since the fraud was allegedly taking place since 2011, questions have been raised over the PSBs' capability to keep the public money safe.
On February 23, PNB trashed the reports of Virat Kohli stepping down as the bank's brand ambassador. It clarified the Indian cricket team captain was not going to end his advertisement contract with the bank in wake of the biggest bank scam involving diamond merchant Nirav Modi and his uncle Mehul Choksi. "Mr Virat Kohli is our brand ambassador," the bank said, denying media reports that he is going to discontinue his endorsement with the bank. "The same is again totally false and incorrect," it added.
However, the company that manages Virat Kohli as a brand has now said they are not in talks to "extend the contract". "There is no dialogue to extend the contract so as of now, no, we are not in talks to extend the contract," Bunty Sajdeh, CEO of Cornerstone Sport and Entertainment, the talent management company representing Kohli told ET.
PNB had chosen Virat Kohli as its brand ambassador in 2017 for his "mass appeal to the youth of our country" and because of his qualities like "determination, focus, and winning habit". During signing of the contract, the cricketer had said PNB is 'Mera Apna Bank' (my own bank), and that he was an account holder of the bank since the age of 16 years.
A report, 'Rise of the Millennials: India's Most Valuable Celebrity Brands', by Duff & Phelps in December 2017, had put Kohli on the top spot in terms of the brand value. Kohli's brand value grew 56 per cent compared to 2016, while Shah Rukh Khan lost the top post for the first time, the report said.
Presently, Virat Kohli represents around 17 brands, including famous companies like Audi, Tissot watches, Puma Sportswear, etc. In February 2017, Virat Kohli joined the international league of the likes of French footballer Thierry Henry and Jamaican sprinter Usain Bolt when he signed a deal worth Rs 110-crore by becoming Puma's global brand ambassador for eight years.