Even while the buzz has it that Sania Mirza will be endorsing Coke, Coca-Cola India's clear-lime brand, Sprite, may after all walk away with the teen tennis sensation. Sources told ET that Coca-Cola India is toying with the idea of pairing up Sprite with Mirza, reportedly for an endorsement fee of around Rs 65 lakh.
Sania will join the ranks of other sportstars like Virender Sehwag and Raghavendra Singh Rathore in endorsing the company's brands in India. When contacted by ET, the company refused to comment on this new development.
Sources say that Coke is planning to focus on sports heavily as a brand-building and advertising platform this year. Earlier, the company had focused on entertainment stars like Aamir Khan, Salman Khan, Akshay Kumar, Aishwarya Rai, and Vivek Oberoi for some of its other brands.
Sprite grew by 14% till middle of 2005, but of late it was losing steam, even though it remains the most preferred lime drink, according to the company's internal presentation. In 2004, the brand grew 65%, and 95% in 2003, but with stagnating sales last year, the brand was in dire need for a sales fillip. Sania is expected to provide the brand that much-needed growth catalyst.
Interestingly, Sprite never had a brand ambassador every since its launch in India in 1999. The brand, with its edgy and attitude driven communication (remember All Taste, No Spiel?), also fits in perfectly with Sania Mirza, what with her young-and-success-driven persona.
For Sania, Sprite would be her sixth big endorsement after Hyundai Getz, Tata Tea, Lotto, Hindustan Petroleum and Tata Indicom. Her positioning as a role model, who is articulate and a global achiever, has really appealed to a wider mass, much more than merely her game and its minuscule audience in India. Sania spends about 30 days a year endorsing brands, and some of her present brand endorsements are also reported to be under review given her reasonably good performance recently.