Sprinter Hima Das made headlines a few weeks ago for not only winning five gold medals over 20 days across various events, but also for the overnight spike in her brand endorsement fee as she bagged brands like Adidas, SBI’s YONO app, Edelweiss Group and Star Cement.
By Devina Joshi
In a refreshing new trend, the achievements of sportspersons other than cricketers are being acknowledged. While badminton and tennis champions like Sania Mirza, Saina Nehwal and PV Sindhu have gained recognition, in more recent times, those like Deepa Karmakar, Sakshi Malik and Hima Das have been applauded for their performances. Brand managers are cashing in on their popularity.
Sprinter Hima Das made headlines a few weeks ago for not only winning five gold medals over 20 days across various events, but also for the overnight spike in her brand endorsement fee as she bagged brands like Adidas, SBI’s YONO app, Edelweiss Group and Star Cement. Das now commands around Rs 60-65 lakh per year as her endorsement fee.
Now, ace sprinter Dutee Chand has been snapped up by Puma, in what is her first brand endorsement contract, for a period of two years. Chand became the first Indian woman track and field athlete to win a gold medal in the World Universiade championship last month. According to Adil Mistry, partner, MAAT Jacks Entertainment, Sports and Lifestyle LLP (the sports consultancy managing Chand’s portfolio), there are a few more brands in the pipeline.
As per sources, Chand has opened her endorsement innings with a fee of Rs 20-25 lakh per year, which is likely to vary depending on the number of days in a year that she would be engaged by a particular brand. Also, Chand will make appearances at Puma retail outlets, apart from being leveraged on social media. She will also be a part of mass media campaigns by Puma, including a women’s campaign in October where she will be a part of a medley of female sports athletes.
“Dutee Chand is the fastest female sprinter in the country and as a brand, we want to support her in her journey by providing her the right tools for her trade, particularly footwear,” says Abhishek Ganguly, managing director, PUMA India. Chand will sport custom-made footwear and apparel from Puma India across races and training practices, except where specified by ‘India duty’ where she is supposed to wear the outfits by the national sponsor.
“The aim is to inspire Indian youth, particularly women, to take up sports as a career,” Ganguly says. Puma, globally, has retired Jamaican sprinter Usain Bolt as its endorser. With this, Chand joins the Puma India roster of endorsers which also features cricketers Virat Kohli and KL Rahul, boxer Mary Kom and footballer Gurpreet Singh Sandhu.
With the proliferation of various sporting leagues in India in recent years — including kabaddi, wrestling and boxing — non-cricket athletes are coming into their own, a trend which perhaps took shape with the first batch of such athletes, including Saina Nehwal and PV Sindhu. It is only natural that brands — particularly those in the sports industry — take an interest at popularising such celebrities at the grassroot level.
“While cricket still has a mass following, there is a certain fatigue factor that has set in, particularly if you see the ads featuring cricketers around the ICC World Cup,” says sports consultant Ritesh Nath. “I’m not surprised that brands like Puma and Adidas are roping in the younger, non-cricketing lot of athletes. Audiences also follow other sports keenly and such athletes are getting visibility not just from a brands perspective but also a media perspective.”
Furthermore, with the 2020 Olympics, it makes sense to rope in current sensations — athletes that are frontrunners in bringing potential fame to the country. “Brands are being rather smart by roping athletes for a two-year contract,” Nath adds. So, if, say, Chand performs well at the Olympics, a brand like Puma could milk its association with her even a year after the mega-event. “It is a window of opportunity,” he says.