Anil Kumar M/TNN
Bangalore, Feb 20: Team India One-day cricket captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni finds himself in a soap opera. He may be battling hard to take his team to the finals of Tri-series Down Under. But back here, the state-owned Karnataka Soaps and Detergents Ltd (KSDL) is engaging him in a legal tangle.
KSDL has issued a legal notice to Dhoni and Kolkata-based Gameplan Sports Private Ltd (Dhoni's endorsing company) claiming Rs 40 lakh as damages. It has also terminated Dhoni's contract. Reason: This busy wicketkeeper-batsman failed to give enough time to the company to endorse its brand of Mysore Sandal soaps.
In order to give greater brand visibility and focus on young consumers, KSDL roped in Dhoni as brand ambassador to endorse its hot-selling Mysore Sandal soap in January 2006 for a term of two years. The deal was struck between KSDL and Gameplan Sports for Rs 84.85 lakh. However, only Rs 64.42 lakh was paid during the agreement, with a promise to pay the balance after completion of dates with the company.
According to the agreement, Dhoni was to give the company a time of 10 days for two years (five days a year). But he failed to meet these conditions and was available only for three days. During his availability, a 60-second commercial advertisement was produced. 'We have sought for an arbitration. And the sports company is yet to reply,'' KSDL managing director B H Anil Kumar told TOI.
Though the contract was to end in January 2008, KSDL has terminated the deal in December 2007. Besides Dhoni, Gameplan has handled endorsements for cricketing stars like Piyush Chawla, Robin Uthappa, Munaf Patel and Rohit Sharma from India; Ricky Ponting and Adam Gilchrist from Australia; and Kumara Sangakkara and Mahela Jayawardane from Sri Lanka.
When contacted, Yadujit Datta, Gameplan representative, said the company was yet to reply to KSDL's arbitration. He declined to comment further as the issue involved legal aspects.