Run-up to Olympics: Brands go beyond cricket, sign up non-cricket female athletes

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Published: November 4, 2019 3:31 AM

In its latest campaign titled Silent Performers, Haier India worked with three non-cricket women athletes to advertise its washing machines

dipa karmakar, olympicsGymnast Dipa Karmakar and boxer Simranjit Kaur have gained significant visibility after being roped in as brand ambassadors. (Reuters)

With the Tokyo 2020 Olympics less than a year away, non-cricket sportswomen in India have bagged multiple brand endorsement deals from leading international brands, in addition to making appearances on TV shows and events. Consider ace sprinter Hima Das: three months since her winning streak, she has bagged two more brand endorsements, Haier and Gatorade, and a few more in her kitty which are yet to be formalised. Some other brands she endorses include Adidas, SBI’s YONO app, Edelweiss Group and Star Cement. Then there’s boxer Simranjit Kaur, who won a bronze medal for India at the 2018 AIBA Women’s World Boxing Championships; she is currently associated with Adidas and Haier India.

Rahul Trehan, vice-president, IOS Sports and Entertainment, a sports management firm, says building social media profiles and making sure these women who have very humble roots get the right kind of media exposure becomes imperative for a budding star. Trehan’s firm that handles Das, MC Mary Kom, Saina Nehwal, Vijender Singh, Manika Batra, Hima Das and Mirabai Chanu, creates social media profiles and finds apt placements for the talent it manages — including appearances on television shows, events, magazine covers, and brand endorsements.

Consider how Das, sprinter Dutee Chand, para-athletes Manasi Nayana Joshi and Deepa Malik have all participated in one of India’s most-watched TV shows, Kaun Banega Crorepati. Gymnast Dipa Karmakar and boxer Simranjit Kaur have gained significant visibility after being roped in as brand ambassadors, appearing on the covers of leading magazines, and turning social media influencers in their own right ever since they broke out on the world stage.

Das who is said to charge around Rs 70 lakh per year for a brand endorsement deal, has also become a social media influencer. Das has endorsed Zandu’s Fitness Honey, Daniel Wellington watches and Apple reseller Imagine on Instagram and Twitter. Das is said to charge Rs 3.5 lakh per post on social media.

Para-badminton champ Joshi too has been using her celebrity status to influence the youth of the country. She has been advocating the ban of single use plastic on behalf of Bharat Petroleum. Joshi has also won the support of CitiGroup for the upcoming Olympics.

A quick glance at the Twitter and Instagram profiles of sportswomen such as Das or Karmakar demonstrate the influence of these athletes. Vogue India put Chand on its cover in October and named her Sportsperson of the Year 2019. Earlier this year she was on the digital cover of Cosmopolitan; the magazine celebrated Chand for being India’s first openly lesbian athlete.

Trehan says that brands are increasingly signing on women athletes in the run up to the Olympics and are counting on them to win a medal for India. “Most of these endorsement deals are for two years. If the athlete wins a medal at the Olympics, then the brand will be able to leverage that win for a year further,” says Trehan.

Abhishek Ganguly, managing director, PUMA India, believes that India is no more a one sport nation.This is why the sportswear company that has a strong association with Virat Kohli, the captain of the national cricket team, chooses to work with non-cricket athletes too, says Ganguly. In its latest campaign titled Propah Lady, Puma has worked with Kom and Chand alongside actor Sara Ali Khan and transgender model Anjali Lama.

“We understand cricket cannot be our only sport, at a time when other games are becoming more popular than ever in terms of viewership, followership and people playing it themselves,” Ganguly adds.

In its latest campaign titled Silent Performers, Haier India worked with three non-cricket women athletes to advertise its washing machines. But the company is now mulling telling the stories of these women beyond the washing machine ad. Satish NS, SVP, marketing and sales, Haier India, informs that the home appliance maker is already in talks to rope in more sportswomen for its marketing campaigns over the next two years.

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