Olympians return to brand welcome

Written by Surabhi Agarwal | New Delhi, Aug 27 | Updated: Aug 28 2008, 06:28am hrs
As Indias Olympic heroes return to their homeland, not only the countrys masses but also the marketers have given them a grand welcome. While boxing champ Vijender Kumar has already bagged an endorsement deal for an insurance company, brands like Pepsi and Volvo are said to be in talks with shooter and gold medal winner Abhinav Bindra.

An insurance company has already signed Vijender for their ad campaign. However, we will only be announcing it formally on Thursday, said Neerav Tomar, CEO of Infinity Optimal Solutions (IOS). IOS has been managing Vijender exclusively since 2005 and pegs his brand value between Rs 60-70 lakh. Sports apparel majors like Adidas and Nike are also said to be making a beeline for these young sportsmen.

On the other hand, Abhinav Bindra has brands straddling sectors like watch, four-wheeler, insurance, eye wear and beverages showing interest in the shooter who gave India its first Olympic gold medal. Volvo gifted Abhinav a luxury sedan, they might also rope him in for an endorsement deal on a global basis. We are also talking to a beverage company, said his father AS Bindra. According to sources, Pepsi is in talks with the ace shooter.

While brands are slugging it out to strike the best deal with these sportsmen, sports management agencies have also launched themselves into a race to claim exclusivity for these young heroes. For instance, Abhinav, currently the hottest property in the sports world is being claimed by two agencies-Latika Khanejas Collage Sports Management and Boni Duggals Bformula Entertainment. Both parties claim the other party has nothing to do with Abhinav.

According to Bindra, We are managing his contracts ourselves and Duggal is the media co-ordinator. On the other hand, Duggal said that Khaneja was managing him only till the last Olympics. Since nothing came out of the last Olympics, I have started managing him now. The family did not want any outsiders for the job. Since, I being a family man had experience in the field, I took over, Duggal stated. When contacted by FE, Khaneja said that she still has an ongoing contract with Bindra and refused to divulge more details about the contract.

Even badminton player Saina Nehwal, who became the first Indian to enter the singles quarter-finals at the Beijing Olympics, is being courted by insurance, biscuits and scooty brands among others. We have got 7-8 deals for Saina on our table. Since she is an 18-year-old promising players, marketers are looking at a fit with the young adults or teens, said Indranil Blah, VP, Sports, Globosport. Brands are willing to shell out Rs 8-10 lakh for having her on board.