From a not-so-popular name in the advertising circuit back in 2015 (when she signed her first endorsement deal with Yonex) to bagging over a dozen brand endorsements today, PV Sindhu has proven her mettle off the court as well.
In August 2018, Sindhu was ranked seventh in Forbes’ list of top earning female athletes with an estimated earning of $8.5 million. Serena Williams tops the list with earnings of $18.1 million, followed by six other lawn tennis players.
“We have just signed a deal with an insurance company and that is the 13th brand to associate with Sindhu,” says Tuhin Mishra, MD and co-founder of Baseline Ventures, the talent management firm that handles the ace shuttler’s brand endorsement deals.
It hasn’t been an easy ascent though. Back in 2015, Sindhu’s endorsement managers were trying hard to explain who Sindhu was and what she was achieving.
“At 17, she was the only Indian to have won two bronze medals in world championships. Yet, we had to even answer questions like who is PV Sindhu,” recalls Mishra, adding, “We went to potential clients asking them to consider someone like her who is going up the curve as opposed to the prevalent advertiser mentality of looking at only those who have already attained their career peak.”
The Hyderabadi badminton player stepped into the limelight at the Rio Summer Olympics in 2016 where she won a silver medal. Performing consistently after that helped her bag new brand associations and renew existing contracts.
“We had to reach out to brands and push Sindhu because India continues to be a cricket-crazy nation,” says Mishra.
What has changed with Sindhu’s achievements is her endorsement fee. Baseline has a structure in place where each endorsement deal with PV Sindhu has to be over `2 crore a year, with each year having two or three endorsement days. So brands may need to dish out `1-1.5 crore per day depending on the size and nature of the deal.
At present, Sindhu has brands like Yonex, Moov, Bridgestone, Bank of Baroda, Whisper, Ojasvita, Gatorade, etc, in her kitty. Sania Mirza was once the top-grossing female athlete with a price tag of Rs 75 lakh a day when at her peak. Virat Kohli, the highest earning Indian athlete, charges around Rs 2.5 crore a day. “Sindhu is one of the top sports people in the country, male or female, and I think the key to this has been her consistency. In the past too, we have seen athletes emerging into stardom and fading away in a year or two, but she has managed to remain on the top,” says Indranil Das Blah, CEO, KWAN. However, brand expert Harish Bijoor thinks Sindhu’s endorsements are not as intelligent as they could be. “She should not be advertising potato chips and FMCGs. Her DNA is her achievement and there is integrity in the achievement. Brands that are conscious about using that in their DNA must rope in Sindhu,” feels Bijoor.