Before we move on to influencer marketing, it is important to know that Madras Rubber Factory (MRF) is a tyre company that has been active in the country’s rubber and toy industries for decades (since 1946).
Sachin and MRF enjoyed a brand relationship that lasted for 13 years that is considered as a revolution in the field of marketing. This association redefined how influencer marketing campaigns are executed and laid down foundations for how MRF will be perceived as a brand.
Their case is one of the best examples of influencer marketing.
Sachin was on the verge of establishing his dominion in cricket when he collaborated with MRF in 1996. He was hitting the likes of Akhtar, Bret lee, and McGrath with ease. Keeping his form aside, we always noticed his bat with the MRF Genius logo that made us believe that MRF made bats.
But, do you think that MRF actually wanted that? Did it work in their favor?
Let’s explore the curious case of MRF bats.
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What Were the Emotions Attached to Sachin?
Do you recall those memorable chants? Those 65,000 people at Wankhede screaming at the top of their voices, taking each breath with a hope that their prayer reaches their god standing on the ground.
Sachinnnn! Sachinn! Sachinnnn! Sachinn!
Everything that Sachin owned, we also aspired to have it all.
One of those things was the legendary Sachin MRF bat.
We all remember going to the store and saying “Sachin wala bat dena (give us the bat that Sachin has).”
What is Influencer Marketing?
Influencer marketing is digital campaigns on social media involving endorsements from influencers. Influencers can be people, organizations, or experts who have a high following in their respective fields.
The 80s’ Thumps up ad, which is another example of influencer marketing had a different vibe altogether. Sunil Gavaskar, Ravi Shastri, and Sandeep Patil giving a thumbs up drove the nation crazy for the fizzy drink.
Brands have been hiring celebrities for decades to promote their products. It is only in this social media era that we have started calling them influencers.
Sachin donning that MRF bat was an example of influencer marketing. His association with MRF can arguably be said to be one of the best influencer marketing campaigns till now.
What Was the Idea Behind this Collaboration?
MRF collaborated with Sachin Tendulkar while keeping in mind their motto to work only with the best people in their respective industry to show their dominance in the market.
It is hard to believe that a brand that wasn’t remotely associated with a product was paying heavily to be associated with that particular product.
MRF shelled out millions to collaborate with Sachin and they achieved the desired goal too.
MRF didn’t care back then whether they were being perceived as a bat manufacturing brand. All they ever aimed to establish was to become a household name.
And, MRF did that brilliantly!
MRF capitalized on the Indian consumer psychology. MRF was very well aware of the sentiments we carried for Sachin.
If you see, when MRF ended its engagement with Sachin in a respectful manner, they clarified that he has passed his best, and MRF as a brand only wants to associate with the best in the industry. According to them, he wasn’t prolific anymore.
What can we Learn from This?
MRF still follows the same philosophy. After ending their brand engagement with Sachin, they moved on to Virat Kohli and Shikhar Dhawan because they are the best right now.
This is what Sachin felt about his collaboration with MRF.
MRF never tried to disrespect Sachin but they thought it to be better for themselves to move on.
For the startups reading this, there is learning hidden in MRF’s marketing approach. MRF only associates with people with whom their brand identity aligns and that’s why they engage in influencer marketing campaigns only with those who are the best in their field.
They don’t go for an influencer only because of their popularity but their potential as well. Sachin was once the best cricketer in the world, and now Virat is; tomorrow somebody else will be.
When Sachin was associated with MRF, he was a hard hitter batsman having an impression of being aggressive and strong. That’s when MRF resonated with Sachin.
After his retirement, Sachin collaborated with Apollo tyres. The idea behind this was Apollo tyres wanted to depict the safety and trustworthiness of their tyres. This is why they chose a reliable and calm face of Sachin Tendulkar. An identity that he created after retiring from the game.
In the cricket industry, MRF was also associated with Brian Lara, Steve Waugh, AB de Villiers, and Gautam Gambhir in the past.
It only depends on you and the phase you are in as a brand that should act as a core factor for hiring influencers. Brands should look for influencers whom they resonate with.
We think that MRF was perfect in creating their approach for influencer marketing campaigns. Tell us in the comments what do you think about it? And, who will be the next line of influencers that MRF will collaborate with?
Influencer marketing is one of many types of marketing. More than 35 different types of marketing exist, so if you’d like to learn more, read this blog.