Saina Nehwal is set to become the new darling of international brands. After achieving the No. 1 position in the global badminton rankings, talent managers believe that her brand value is set to go up with a surge in endorsement fees and new deals, including global brand endorsements.

Excelling in badminton, which apart from being a global sport also has a mass appeal in India, celebrity managers say Nehwal is already charging what a second-rung cricketer earns.

Though Nehwal’s endorsement deal value saw a dip last year, estimates suggest she commands between ₹80 lakh and ₹1 crore per deal. This could see a further increase of 25-30 per cent for new deals, experts say.

Brand value boost

“Badminton is played across 150 countries and the top ranking will definitely boost Saina’s brand value. She also strikes a chord with women and the youth, who are key influencers,” said Indranil Das Blah, Chief Operating Officer of CAA-Kwan, which has been working closely with Nehwal on endorsement deals.

He said brands looking for a pan-India connect with youth as well as those looking to project a modern woman in their campaigns are expected to sign her.

Blah said his company has already got enquiries from brands in categories such as mobile handsets and FMCG products.

Nehwal has been seen endorsing brands such as Herbalife, Iodex Gel, Yonex, Top Ramen Noodles, Vaseline among others. She has also been involved with initiatives by corporates such as Ranbaxy’s Red Heart Initiative.

Says Neerav Tomar, Managing Director and CEO, IOS Sports & Entertainment: “She is already an established brand in India. With this ranking, she is on the global stage and one may see a global brand endorsement deal coming her way.”

Vikram Dhar, country manager, Yonex Sunrise India, said that the brand has been associated with her for a long time. The company is expected to launch a campaign celebrating her latest achievement as well the sport of badminton.

In addition, Yonex is looking to launch a new line of products which will be endorsed by Nehwal.

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