A few bad ads

Are Indian cricketers ill at ease with the pancake on?


Sachin's squeaky falsetto has endorsed products from car batteries to luxury apartments.

Cricketers and Bollywood personalities are the most recognizable faces in the country and are hence madly sought after for product endorsements. But in some cases roping in a wooden sportsperson to heighten a sales pitch doesn’t have the desired effect.

For instance, how many viewers would opt for a particular brand of mobile phones, which is currently being promoted by a sheepish Virat Kohli mumbling pick-up lines that went out of style in the last century? Here’s a look at some of the unintentionally hilarious and plain disturbing advertisements that our worshipped cricketers have lent their persona to. Not everyone is blessed with the charisma or camera-friendliness of Shane Warne, but is a basic ease before the eyepiece (on the part of cricketers) and a sense of decency (on the part of the makers) too much to ask for?

Not that sportspersons are supposed to excel at turning on the style quotient; neither does this persistently touring lot has time enough to perfect their lines and master their facial expressions. Still, there are some ads that make one cringe – primarily for the unease that cricketers exhibit when taken out of their comfort zone and into the studio. Here are a few of that didn’t quite cut it.

Sourav Ganguly (Pepsi): Unabashed self-promotion makes this one particularly tiresome to watch, except for those who swear by the former India captain’s assuredness while saying stuff such as “My name is Sourav Ganguly. I hope you haven’t forgotten.” Released on the eve of a potential comeback for the deposed skipper, the ad also has ‘Dada’ desiring “another chance to twirl my shirt in the air”. A veritable feast for his legion of fans and another entry in the little black book of impassive performances.

Virat Kohli (Celkon mobiles): Forget the cake, this latest gem from India’s biggest talent takes the whole confectionery. The Delhi boy attempts to deadpan his way through to a pretty young thing with “My phonebook is empty. Why don’t you put in your number?” Oh please! More was expected from this self-anointed style-guru of Team India. In all likelihood, it would have been a truckload of money that impelled Kohli to sell out to 30 seconds of pure camp. And yes, Celkon can bid goodbye to its already abysmal market presence.

Virender Sehwag ki Ma (Reliance): The dashing opener does little wrong in this one. He plays and misses, in trademark fashion, and rounds up the 60-second promo with another trademark – a winning six. It’s what predates the flourishing finish that sets this apart. Just before the final delivery, a little boy tosses to the man in the middle a cellphone which displays – hold your breath – an MMS from Sehwag’s mother egging him on to “capture the world in your fist.” Voila! A winning six results. If only it were that easy!

Yuvraj Singh (Birla Sunlife): Despite a thick Punjabi accent and a tendency towards a double chin, the man of the 2011 World Cup is usually a dapper presence on screen. But the follow up ad to the original – after Yuvraj was diagnosed with cancer – was in poor taste. The remade version assumes a ‘we-told-you-so’ tone, implying that the feared illness was in a way hinted at when the left-hander, in the earlier ad, contemplates a future devoid of form and without the cushion of the cricket universe, likening the ailment to a googly. Exploiting a life-threatening condition for commercial gain is really no way of driving across one’s point, however pertinent it may be. And comparing cancer to a googly? Enough said.