Captain Virat Kohli to bat for Uber as its India brand ambassador

Topics Virat Kohli | Uber India

Virat Kohli along with Amit Jain, President, Uber India
After cricketer Virendra Sehwag pitched in for homegrown cab aggregator Ola last year to create awareness towards vehicular pollution, Indian cricket team captain Virat Kohli has started batting for its biggest rival, Uber.

The US-based ride-hailing company announced on Friday that the 29-year-old batsman would be its new brand ambassador.

On the newly-formed partnership, Kohli tweeted, “After a season of hectic tours, it’s finally time for me to take a back-seat.” It is great to see how Uber is using technology to revolutionise the way people move around cities and is empowering millions by creating economic opportunities, he added.

The development reflects that the company is still willing to burn cash in India, roping in one of the country's most famous and expensive cricketers as its face. It, however, did not disclose the financial terms of the association.

Kohli is the first brand ambassador for the company in Asia Pacific region.

With him on board, the company is better placed to appeal to the larger Indian market. “There are a few faces who are ubiquitous in their ability to sell product and services, and Kohli is one of them,” said brand strategist Harish Bijoor.

According to a Duff & Phelps report, Kohli is the most valuable celebrity brand in the country, with a brand value of $144 million.

"Choosing Kohli as a brand ambassador is a fantastic move as he is a pan-India trustworthy brand," said Karthik Srinivasan, national lead (social) at Ogilvy.

Like Sehwag, who through a series of tweets, had driven Ola’s initiative to draw people’s attention towards the benefits of cab sharing, Kohli will also be involved in a series of innovative marketing and customer experience initiatives to be rolled out by Uber India.

“In Virat, we’ve found a partner who reflects the drive we share with everyday India, while embodying our commitment to serving the country,” Uber India and South Asia President Amit Jain said.

Trying to race ahead of each other in India, Uber and Ola are locked in an intense battle to gain more domestic market share. In December last year, SoftBank, the biggest investor in Ola, bought 15 per cent stake in Uber, giving rise to speculation that the two players might merge. However, Uber Chief Executive Officer Dara Khosrowshahi, on a visit to India, denied of any such plans.

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