End of an era - Pepsi drops Tendulkar

<img border='0' align='left' title=' ' src='http://www.ndtv.com/convergence/images/thumbnail/ver1/t/tendulkaraus6.jpg' class='caption'> After having him as their brand ambassador for close to two decades, Pepsi has decided not to renew Sachin Tendulkar's contract after it expired in May.

Updated: July 11, 2008 08:32 IST
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New Delhi:

Completing a phase-out of its aging cricket brand ambassadors, soft drinks major has dropped master blaster Sachin Tendulkar, whose long-standing contract with the company expired in May.

The dropping of Tendulkar comes on the backdrop of Pepsi axing the other two members of the Indian batting trioka -- Rahul Dravid and Sourav Ganguly -- earlier this year.

Industry sources said Pepsi did not renew the contract with Tendulkar, who has been their brand ambassador since the 90s, following its decision to focus on younger cricketers.

"The decision was also influenced in a big way by a premium demanded by the batting maestro," the sources added.

As per market estimates, Tendulkar with a fee ranging between Rs 3-4 crore for endorsement per brand annually has been the most highly paid cricketer of his generation.

When contacted Pepsi officials refused to comment or clarify if the company has not renewed the contract.

Tendulkar's manager, the World Sport Group, was not available for comments despite repeated attempts.

Pepsi had made it clear its intention to go with youngsters as part of a new campaign for 2008, 'Yeh hai Youngistaan Meri Jaan' and roped in Ishant Sharma and Rohit Sharma while dropping Dravid and Ganguly.

Hinting the company was having second thoughts over Tendulkar's contract, in an earlier interview with PTI in April, PepsiCo India Executive Director Punita Lal had said: "It's about how much you (as a company) can afford and how many new faces you want to introduce".

Over the years Tendulkar has partnered other celebrities such as Amitabh Bachchan and Shah Rukh Khan in ads for the brand with 'Dil Maange More' being one of the most memorable series.

Industry insiders said with Tendulkar hampered more often by injuries and questions on his future surfacing time and again, brands like Pepsi would prefer to invest on young guns, led by charismatic captain M S Dhoni.

The same logic was applied while not renewing contracts with Dravid and Ganguly, who were not considered for the Indian one-day team, the sources added.

The company had roped in Ishant and Rohit, after their impressive performance in the Commonwealth Bank One-day tri-series played in Australia earlier this year. The two have followed it up with superlative performances in the IPL.

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