Experts believe that it is Sindhu’s youth, consistency, fitness and her achievements that brands want to cash in.
Ace badminton player PV Sindhu is not only scoring high on the field but is also attracting big numbers in the endorsement space. Recently, she bagged a sponsor deal to the tune of Rs 50 crore from Chinese sports brand Li Ning, which according to the company is one of the biggest deals in the world of badminton. But does that mean she is superseding Bollywood celebrities in the brand world?
Talking to Moneycontrol, brand strategist and founder, Harish Bijoor Consults Inc, Harish Bijoor said “I wouldn’t say it is a better deal than Bollywood stars but to take Rs 50 crore and say that Rs 40 crore is brand endorsement money and Rs 10 crore is for equipment. See, Rs 40 crore is the key amount of money and it is a good bet. It says that we are betting on Sindhu to be the world’s next number one player. China likes that. The brand picking Sindhu as their ambassador means it is a forecast of Sindhu’s future to an extent, considering that they have evaluated the chances of many stars.”
According to a 2018 Duff and Phelps report on India’s most powerful celebrity brands, while Bollywood celebrities dominate the top ranks of the top 20 celebrity brands, sportspersons – including players like PV Sindhu, Virat Kohli, Sachin Tendulkar, MS Dhoni, etc –are giving them a tough competition.
According to the report, these sports personalities collectively contribute almost $241 million, which is over 27 percent of the cumulative brand value of the top 20 celebrities pegged at $877 million.
With a brand value of $21.6 million, Sindhu is associated with as many as 13 brands. Her endorsement fees have also seen a hike, now standing between Rs 1 crore and Rs 1.5 crore.
“From the early days, there has been a 400 percent increase (in endorsement fees) from the time when she won that silver. Just imagine what will happen when she hits a gold,” said Bijoor.
After winning a silver medal at the Rio Games, Sindhu had inked an endorsement deal worth Rs 500 million from Baseline Ventures, a sports marketing, entertainment, and brand licensing firm. This was the highest contract offered to a non-cricketing sportsperson in India.
As Sindhu continues to break her own records, what is helping her grab better deals?
Hailing the recent deal, Bijoor said, “What is to be appreciated is that this is a global brand endorsement, not an Indian one.”
He explained, “Badminton is a global game – to an extent, it is more global than cricket in terms of the number of countries playing it. So, it attracts the best eyeballs from across the globe. If there is a brand who wants to grab eyeballs, this is a great sport to back.”
Other experts believe that it is Sindhu’s youth, consistency, fitness and her achievements that brands want to cash in.
However, it was not an easy journey for Sindhu in the endorsement market, particularly during the initial days. Due to cricket’s dominance in the space, Sindhu’s managers had to convince companies to consider her as a player who is moving up the curve as against cricketers who already are at their peak.
Sindhu is now among the top-earning women athletes in the world with total earnings of $8.5 million, out of which her income from endorsements stands at $8 million.
In 2017, Sindhu took the 13th spot in the Forbes celebrity rich list with earnings equalling Rs 57.25 crore. She had climbed 49 points from 2016, courtesy 16 brand endorsements in 2017 helping boost her earnings by almost 1,600 percent.
“She is climbing for sure. Within the sport, she is a specialist and she certainly has hit the top rung,” said Bijoor.
Sindhu endorses brands like Moov, Myntra, and sports drink Gatorade, among others.Sindhu is all set for World Championship scheduled in August and aims to grab a gold after settling for a silver medal in last two editions. She is also preparing for the Tokyo 2020 Olympics.