Home/ Industry / Advertising/  Washington Sundar’s meteoric rise strikes a chord with many brands

Washington Sundar is getting noticed both on and off the field for his performance. The 21-year-old cricketer has bagged two deals with global sports brand Puma and electronics firm Anker Innovation this week. Backed by sports management firm Whiteleaf Talent, Sundar is also in talks with three other brands for endorsement deals.

Sundar, named by his father (M. Sundar) in honour of P.D. Washington who had sponsored his passion for cricket, came from humble beginnings, but managed to create a place for himself through sheer grit and hard work.

Kishan Kumar Shyamalan, chief growth officer and head (south) at media agency Wavemaker India, said Washington, an underdog, rose to success despite his humble beginnings and got into the national consciousness after the India-Australia series early this year.

“He embodies certain values like grit and determination, is successful and multi-faceted, and is now a known face across the country. His off-field persona is also very brand friendly and that adds to his overall charm. He also reflects how marketing is changing from make-believe to real. He’s inspirational yet reachable. And these days, real is worth in gold in marketing," he added.

Sundar will be the new brand ambassador of Anker Innovation, which is endorsed by Olympic medallist and badminton player Saina Nehwal.

“Anker’s journey is similar to Washington Sundar’s who rose from humble beginnings to touch cricketing heights at the international level. We feel that his persona is an excellent fit for our brand," said Gopal Jeyaraj, country head, Anker Innovation.

The Indian arm of German sports brand Puma on Tuesday brought Sundar on board as its brand endorser. He joins the Puma roster of cricketers, which include Indian captain Virat Kohli, wicketkeeper-batsman K.L. Rahul and women’s cricket star Sushma Verma, besides Yuvraj Singh.

“We all saw Washington perform under the most hostile situations (in Australia), where he showed real mettle and thrived under pressure. Instead of getting overwhelmed by the occasion, he grabbed the opportunity with both hands, backed himself with unwavering confidence. His journey is as real as it can get for every cricket fan to connect with. At the end of the day, his resilience and determination to be the best at what he does makes him an icon among the youth," said Abhishek Ganguly, managing director, Puma India and South-East Asia.

The all-rounder is currently playing for the Virat Kohli-led Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB) in the ongoing Indian Premier League (IPL) 2021, after being retained by the team for 3.2 crore. He went from being a batsman as a youngster to making his name as an off-spinner. After representing India at the 2016 Under-19 World Cup, he replaced R. Ashwin at Rising Pune Supergiant, making his Twenty20 debut as a 17-year-old in the 2017 IPL.

Sundar managed to keep his fans engaged both on-field, as well as on social media platforms, where he shares slices of his daily life, including fitness routines, match practice sessions and family life. He also promotes brands, such as Lava mobiles and mobile game Crash Bandicoot, via digital campaigns on his social media handles where he enjoys a cumulative follower count of more than 1.6 million across Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. According to industry estimates, Sundar’s annual brand deals ranges between 30 lakh and 50 lakh.

“He’s likely to attract more such digital deals from categories which have strong resonance with cricket. It could be athleisure brands or fantasy gaming platforms. However, Sundar needs to establish himself as an Indian cricket team regular across at least two formats (ODI/T20/Test) to come under serious consideration for a set of traditional advertisers such as automobile or fast-moving consumer goods firms. Currently, brands are investing in his future potential as a young cricketer," said a senior sports marketing executive on the condition of anonymity.

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Updated: 21 Apr 2021, 11:59 PM IST
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