NEW DELHI: In a male-dominated cricketing nation starved of broader sporting success, PV Sindhu stands out both for her choice of sport and victories on the world stage. The Olympics shuttler is now setting records away from the badminton court, making more cash for each day of endorsing brands than did the former India skipper MS Dhoni.
The 21-year old, who won a silver medal at the Rio Olympics last summer, now stands second on the leader-board of Indian sports-earners for each day of endorsements, behind only cricket captain Virat Kohli. Her rise to the top 5 in world badminton rankings has simultaneously raised her endorsement value, vaulting her past Dhoni and her female sporting peers such as Saina Nehwal and tennis ace Sania Mirza.
“Sindhu is now ahead of both other woman athletes and non-cricketers,” said Tuhin Mishra, managing director and co-founder at Baseline Ventures, the sports management firm representing the Olympics medal-winner. “We are looking at creating long-term equity for her with brands and are ensuring that her playing time is not impacted by endorsements.”
According to Mishra, Sindhu’s current endorsement fees are about Rs 1-1.25 crore a day. Kohli is learnt to charge Rs 2 crore from brands for a day, higher than what Dhoni charged at his peak. In August 2016, Sindhu became the first Indian woman athlete to win the Olympic silver: Since then, her fees have increased to more than Rs 1 crore from Rs 15-25 lakh, two officials in the talent management space said.
Sindhu has already signed deals of about Rs 30 crore in the past five months as part of the three-year Baseline deal guaranteeing a minimum of Rs 50 crore.
Cricketing stars and Bollywood icons are familiar ambassadors in India, where films and cricket act as the unifier for a diverse people. Celebrity endorsements are used in all forms of media – outdoor, television, print, and digital – to help brands ram their way out of clutter in an increasingly crowded and competitive marketplace. Olympic winnings, rare in the country, are cherished by marketing managers seeking to establish their brands. Woman boxer Mary Kom too got endorsement deals for companies such as Dalmia Cement after success on the world stage.
Sindhu’s latest deal is with Reckitt Benckiser for its Moov pain reliever. Other brands that have signed her on since the medal include online fashion store Myntra, foods maker Apis and state-run lender Bank of Baroda. She is also the face of the government’s biggest indirect-taxes reforms since independence, the Goods and Services Tax (GST) Bill.
Reckitt Benckiser (RB)’s Moov, which has 11% share in the Rs 3,500-crore pain balm category, has signed a three-year deal with the Sindhu for the brand. “Moov is our biggest over-the-counter brand after Strepsils lozenges and Druex condoms. We believe this deal is an investment in building equity for the brand,” RB Marketing Director Rohit Jindal told ET. Jindal, however, declined to divulge the deal value.
Moov came into RB’s portfolio as part of the UK healthcare giant’s big-ticket acquisition of Paras Pharma six years back. Other famous faces endorsing RB brands include Amitabh Bachchan for Banega Swachch India, Katrina Kaif and Shraddha Kapoor for Veet hair remover and Ranveer Singh for Durex.
To be sure, limited patronage of sporting disciplines other than cricket will likely keep endorsement valuations down in the long term, according to some experts. Shailendra Singh, who heads entertainment and communication firm Percept, said the current valuations may not be realistic. “Sindhu is an exciting opportunity and her achievements are huge. But the sport she plays is not a mass sport like cricket. Ultimately, it’s the popularity of the sport and flamboyance of the personality that determine pricing and valuations of anyone in public domain,” Singh said.
Sindhu is now preparing for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.
SOURCE: THE ECONOMIC TIMES