Home >Industry >Media >Epic series win in Oz raises players’ brand value

India’s epic win against Australia at the Brisbane cricket ground in the final match of the Test series could spark a string of brand endorsement deals for emerging cricketers and help established players command a premium as brand ambassadors.

India won by three wickets against Australia while retaining the Border-Gavaskar trophy 2020-21 on Tuesday, in the series that began in Adelaide mid-December.

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The win saw the impressive debut of several young players. India’s squad across formats, for the Australia tour, consisted of players who are either on their first tour like T. Natarajan and Shardul Thakur, or first Test tour for those like Mohammed Siraj, Washington Sundar, Shubman Gill and Navdeep Saini. The young talent is likely to draw the interest of brands in India, celebrity managers said.

“Corporate India needs to invest in bringing out the great stories of young players such as Natarajan or Siraj who have emerged from small cities and have high aspirational quotient. We have won this series without the presence of big players and that’s what gives hope to young India that marketers need to capture," said Tuhin Mishra, managing director of Baseline Ventures, a sports management firm that also manages sportspersons including P.V. Sindhu, Smriti Mandhana, Prithvi Shaw and Pankaj Advani.

Sandeep Goyal, chairman of advertising and communications agency Mogae Media, agreed: “Brands need to look beyond Virat Kohli and M.S. Dhoni. We recently used Shardul Thakur for Tata Power without much expectation. But he has played fabulously in this match." Goyal, who set up the Indian Institute of Human Brands, a think tank that tracks celebrities and analyses their relevance to brands, however, said often the problem with young talent is inconsistency. “So brands are scared of the ‘flash-in-the-pan’ syndrome," he added.

Yet others feel the series could lead to more meaty deals for some. “Slightly more recognized talents such as Rishabh Pant or Gill, who have played Indian Premier League (IPL) and other formats, are likely to see a significant jump in endorsement fees and brand value. However, it is still early for emerging players such as Thakur, Sundar and Siraj to get endorsements. They will need another series or two with good performance to attract brands," a senior talent management executive said on condition of anonymity. However, he said, historically, batsmen tend to do slightly better commercially than bowlers as they spend more time on the field during matches.

“Cricket audience also has a bias towards batsmen," he said.

Pant charges 15-20 lakh while Gill gets 10-15 lakh per endorsement deal, the person cited above said, adding this may double now. Gill became the hot favourite on social media with his maiden Test half-century. The 21-year-old kept delivering through the series, though he did miss scoring the first century by nine runs in one of the Test matches.

“Nail-biting matches and unexpected turnarounds draw young fans. As a brand, we are extremely excited to partner with not just established players but also some of the young guns who have performed so well," said Abhishek Ganguly, managing director, PUMA India and South-East Asia, without identifying anyone the brand is likely to sign up. It, however, has a long-term partnership with Kohli. “We will continue to invest in new talent and also at the grassroots level," Ganguly added.

Food ordering platforms Zomato and Swiggy, streaming service Netflix, and food and beverage maker PepsiCo used moment marketing and created quick conversations around the win going viral on Twitter and Instagram. For PepsiCo, cricket and Bollywood have driven its communication in the Indian market. Although it did not say if it would sign up young cricketers, it has earlier created campaigns featuring Yuzvendra Chahal, Shikhar Dhawan, and others. “Pepsi has always anchored its communication on culturally relevant passion points — cricket and Bollywood being key ones. As a youth-centric brand, we have always looked out for moments to celebrate young talent," said a PepsiCo India spokesperson.

Cricketers in India attract plum brand associations across product categories, including automobile, finance, real estate, banking, and packaged consumer goods. In 2019, Indian cricket team captain Virat Kohli emerged as the top celebrity endorser for the third consecutive year, according to Duff & Phelps celebrity brand valuation report, registering a 40% jump in the brand value at $237 million.

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