Brand Neeraj Chopra soars, but will it stay afloat?
Experts say that staying relevant is an uphill battle for athletes since their screen time is relatively lower than other endorsers
It’s been slightly over a month since javelin thrower Neeraj Chopra was catapulted into the limelight after picking up India’s first-ever track-and-field gold medal at Olympics 2020. From hobnobbing with the biggest sports stars to debuting on Kaun Banega Crorepati, the athlete is gaining a lot of prominence in the circuit. And much like the expectations of the marketing world, his endorsement fee has also reportedly seen a hike of more than 1000%, an unseen feat for any athlete in the country.
As per a celebrity branding expert, Chopra is charging close to Rs 2 crore for his endorsement deals with the brands now, up from Rs 20-30 lakhs before his Olympic fame.
Prior to his win, Neeraj Chopra was in a four-year endorsement deal with Pepsi’s Gatorade (signed in 2017), was the ambassador for British electronics firm Amstrad in 2019. Chopra also had one-time or short-term associations with a number of brands like Gillette, Country Delight, Mobil India among others. Just recently, he signed up his first multi-year brand partnership after the Olympics win with Tata AIA Life Insurance.
Not just that, Chopra’s social media valuation has risen to Rs 428 crore, as indicated by a report by research consultancy firm YouGov SPORT. He recorded over 2.9 million mentions from over 1.4 million authors, making him the "most mentioned" athlete globally on Instagram during the 2020 Tokyo Olympics. These numbers also represent a whopping 1401% and 2055% increase in his mentions from separate authors online, respectively.
Divyanshu Singh, Head of Sales and Marketing, JSW Sports, which represents Chopra, said in a press statement, “Neeraj has been a consistently outstanding performer in his discipline over the last five to six years, resulting in his phenomenal success at the Tokyo Olympics. He has now become a recognisable personality for the Indian masses on a scale that was hitherto unseen. This, in turn, has brought about a growing interest from brands and institutions looking at a long-term sustainable collaboration.”
However, to sustain this popularity, brand Neeraj Chopra will have to work extra hard as it can be difficult for athletes to remain relevant when their screen time is relatively lower than other categories of popular endorsers.
A marketing industry veteran points out, “Be it film stars or cricketers, their visibility in the media is quite higher as compared to athletes like Neeraj Chopra who become famous only during big championships. In the past too, several Olympic stars have been through this momentous glory before fading out from the endorsement scene. For Neeraj Chopra to stay relevant, he will have to make some smart moves. His social media channels could be the best place for him because he has gained immense popularity there post his win.”
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