The historic win of the Indian women's hockey team is getting all the attention from brands. The team, which has qualified for the semifinals, beat Australia in the quarterfinals of the ongoing Tokyo Olympics.
And the men's hockey team, which is now looking at bronze medal after it lost against Belgium on August 3, is also looking at commercial brand deals at both national and regional levels.
While brands earlier may not have taken note of the hockey players, now they have their eyes on the rising sports celebrities who are making a mark in Tokyo Olympics.
The performance of both men's and women's hockey teams in Tokyo Olympics is also getting a lot of attention on social media which too is a key metric for brands. After all, reach is what is brands look for.
Neerav Tomar, MD and CEO, IOS Sports, a sports marketing firm, that manages the portfolio of Rani Rampal, captain of the Indian women's hockey team said that the win was not short of a fairytale story.
"Hockey being a popular story in the country and a national pride, they (players) are getting immediate attention mostly Rani Rampal and even goalkeeper Savita (Punia) and goal scorer Gurjit (Kaur). The top players including the captain will attract the national brands but all of them will attract at least regional brands because they are regional heroes. In terms of commercial brand engagements, we have a set of heroes for both national and regional levels."
Rampal who had an association with Edelweiss until 2020 could be looking at engagement with players as well, said Tomar.
The financial services company Edelweiss is one of the sponsors of Indian Olympic Association (IOA) for Tokyo Olympics.
While the talks are still going on with brands, everyone's waiting for the semifinal match which is scheduled for August 4 where the Indian women's hockey team will be pitted against Argentina.
If the women's hockey team win against Argentina, they will make their way for the maiden hockey Olympic final.
Tomar who said that winning a medal is very important now added that when it comes to categories an FMCG brand can also look at tie-ups at a regional level.
"This is the beauty of a team sport like hockey. It creates 11-14 stars," he added.
But will the regional offers be significant deals?
According to Darshan M, Founder of PLAY Sports, Media and Entertainment Pvt Ltd, and a sports marketer, the regional deals will be significant ones for athletes as many of them may not have had any corporate support so far. Plus, some of the regional deals are big too, he added.
"There are so many regional brands that you don't have to depend on the Britannia's of the world. Someone who has few local stores is willing to put the money today. Also, due to the regional media explosion, today you no longer have to look from a national scale," said Darshan.
He added, "You want to be popular in northeast, all you need is one famous athlete. Look at the welcome Mirabai Chanu got which was as big a welcome as the Indian team would have got. And for that particular state she is the Virat Kohli. So, smarter brands will sign these athletes. Nationally, media may not cover these athletes a year from now but in their respective states media will continue to do so."
However, when it comes to their endorsement fees the base is low especially compared to a star athletes like PV Sindhu who bagged a bronze medal at the Tokyo Olympics.
"If Sindhu on an average charges a crore, then athletes like Mirabai Chanu, Lovlina, Rani Rampal, Manpreet Singh would fall in the range of Rs 15-20 lakh," said Darshan.
While the athletes are getting all the attention from brands, all eyes are now on hockey and boxing where India has chances to add few more medals to its tally.
When it comes to boxing, Lovlina who is eyeing a silver medal at the games is also seeing traction in the endorsement space.
"There are queries that are coming in but we all are postponing it after the medal match. She is yet to play semifinals on August 4. It all depends on how she performs and then we open up the discussion. For her too, we are getting local-based brand queries in Assam. She hasn't endorsed any brand yet. Olympic produces overnight stars," said Tomar.
Another such upcoming star Mirabai Chanu who already has bagged a deal with Domino's has more such deals coming her way.
"Two to four more finalisations are happening," he said.
Talking about the endorsement space for sports personalities in India, Darshan said that he remembers the days when he was looking for a commercial deal for tennis player Sania Mirza when she was a junior athlete.
"It took almost three months to convince an FMCG brand and they said that they will pay Rs 20,000 for her. It was difficult back then. This was back in 2003-2004. I felt like an evangelist than a sports marketer back then. Sports itself had no money back then. From Rs 20,ooo athletes are now earning in crores. Plus, conversion time for a brand deal has also become much faster nowadays," added Darshan.