Olympics buzz fetches brand deals for sports stars

Meenakshi Verma Ambwani New Delhi | Updated on August 04, 2021

Throws open wider endorsement opportunities for non-cricketing stars

Millions of Indians wake up early these days not to catch an international cricket match, but to watch the Indian contingent in action at the Tokyo Olympic Games. As social-media platforms get buzzing with the Olympics chatter, brand experts say this is also expected to translate into commercial brand deals for sports stars. Experts pointed out that with the digital ecosystem fast evolving, non-cricketing stars now have a wider gamut of opportunities for endorsement deals than before.

PV Sindhu has been setting new benchmarks in terms of brand valuation even before the Tokyo Olympics, and already endorses 10 brands. With the second Olympics medal in her kitty, her brand fees and valuations are expected to surge by 80-100 per cent.

Tuhin Mishra, MD and Co-founder, Baseline Ventures, the firm that manages Sindhus’s portfolio, said: “She has already broken the glass ceiling and has been setting new benchmarks for non-cricketing sporting stars. She has shown remarkable consistency in her performances for the past five years, and is a role model both on and off the field. We have been approached by several brands and are in discussions for future deals.”

A couple of brands have shown interest to rope in Olympics silver medallist Mirabai Chanu for commercial deals. There has been an influx of enquiries from brands for boxer Lovlina Borgohain, India’s second assured medal winner, and Indian Women’s hockey team captain, Rani Rampal, said Neerav Tomar, MD and CEO, IOS Sports & Entertainment.

‘A visible shift’

“From Rio Olympics to Tokyo Olympics there has been a visible shift as brands are seeking to associate with inspiring stories amid adversities of the pandemic.

“With rising digital marketing spends, non-cricketing athletes have wider opportunities for brand deals beyond just TV campaigns,” Tomar added.

Citing the example of athlete Kamalpreet Kaur, experts said non-cricketing stars now have the potential to seal brand deals for their impressive performance in the Games that see nearly 11,000 global athletes compete. Aviral Jain, MD, Duff & Phelps, a Kroll Business, which evaluates celeb’s brand valuations, said: “Brand endorsements by non-cricketing sporting stars in India is largely driven by individual visibility…. Brands typically feature athletes for their grit, patience and determination, and this helps in targeting millennial and Gen Z who are seeking new aspirational figures.”

Strategic deals signed

While some companies are rushing to rope in sports stars after their win, brands such as Thums Up and Puma signed strategic deals with multiple athletes of the Indian contingent in the run-up to the Olympics.

Divyanshu Singh, Head of Sales and Marketing, JSW Sports, said one of the favourable factors is that Asian Games and Commonwealth Games are scheduled for next year, so there is expected to be a sustained buzz around these sports and athletes. “We are also trying to change the way brands think and convince them not to be opportunistic and only associate with an athlete when they win, but also invest in them for the long terms as there is a need to focus on their inspiring journey of battling against odds to represent India at the Olympics,” he added.

‘Boon for athletes’

Vinit Karnik, Head-Sports, Esports and Entertainment at GroupM South Asia, said that in the last decade, the government and corporates made significant amount of investments towards supporting athletes.

“I am confident, as we as a country have embarked on a journey of becoming an Olympics-loving nation, there will be some athletes from our current Olympic contingent, who would certainly benefit in terms of brand endorsements.

“At the same time, with the digital ecosystem rapidly evolving, these athletes can leverage on a wider set of opportunities,” he added.

Published on August 03, 2021

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