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November 29 2018

How the MRF Bat Became Iconic In World Cricket

- by Benny Thompson

It’s just the sponsor sticker and not the manufacturer but every Indian cricket fan will forever associate the MRF cricket bat with Sachin Tendulkar!

So much so that some people to this day confuse MRF to be bat makers as well. But the Madras Rubber Factory were and continue to be principal tyre makers. What they achieved was a masterstroke when they decided to become the bat sponsors of three iconic batsmen of the 90s: Tendulkar, Brian Lara and Steve Waugh. Along with the MRF branding, all three were given specific titles as well. Sachin’s bat said MRF Genius while Lara’s said MRF Wizard and Waugh’s said MRF Master.

The move – especially getting the branding on Sachin’s bat – proved to be absolute genius. According to data from the Bombay Stock Exchange, it led to MRF becoming a widely recognized brand as well as topping the charts when it came to net profits among tyre manufacturers.

Apart from the player they chose, the timing of the branding was also very crucial. The 90s saw the introduction of colour TVs into the homes of middle class Indians which took the craze for cricket to another level altogether. So whenever Sachin was batting, the whole of India was batting with him and that moment was incomplete without the MRF cricket bat of course. All the memories of Sachin scoring centuries and leading India to victory – the Desert Storm in Sharjah, to cite an example – will forever be associated with the MRF bat decimating opposition bowlers. Ask the likes of Glenn McGrath, Shane Warne, Wasim Akram or Muttiah Muralitharan, they probably still get nightmares of the MRF bat beating them around the park!

MRF ended their sponsorship with Sachin in 2009 but the long association had done the trick. Along with building Brand Sachin, his career and nonstop run scoring had built Brand MRF as well. Currently, MRF sponsors the bats of Virat Kohli and Shikhar Dhawan. Kohli’s bat is now carrying forward the legacy that Sachin left behind.

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