PV Sindhu set to rewrite endorsement story for athletes

Industry is rife with speculations about her doubling endorsement fees

e4m by Mansi Sharma
Updated: Aug 4, 2021 11:16 AM
pv sindhu

Backed by impressive performances across the globe and a strong endorsement portfolio over the years, PV Sindhu today is the most successful athlete in India in terms of brand endorsements and presence. The ace shuttler is set for another massive boost in her popularity and value post her big win at Tokyo Olympics, which made her the first Indian woman to win two Olympic medals, opines the industry.

As per Duff & Phelps estimates, Sindhu’s brand value stood at USD 12 million at the end of 2020. CFA - MD Aviral Jain notes, “Back in 2016, post her success at the Rio Olympics, PV Sindhu emerged as an overnight favourite for many brands. (Today) She is the undisputed queen of the Indian brand endorsement market, when it comes to women sportspersons, with more than 10 endorsements, including brands such as Bank of Baroda, Bridgestone India, PepsiCo’s Gatorade and VISA. She has been signed on as a brand ambassador for many brands since badminton has a mass appeal, and fans follow her for her expertise, excellence and consistent performance.”

He adds that the second Olympics win would definitely result in brands looking at this fantastic opportunity to rope her in as an ambassador by leveraging her fame. “PV Sindhu has made India proud again after winning the bronze medal in the women’s singles badminton event at the Tokyo Olympics, being the only woman athlete in India to achieve a podium finish in two Olympics. Further, the 26-year-old shuttler still has a long career ahead of her, and we expect to witness more iconic wins.”

The ShutterCast Founder Amol Roy feels that sportspersons like Sindhu are breaking the clutter when it comes to brand associations, which have predominantly been the territory of male cricketers.

“There is tremendous value for an Olympian like PV Sindhu, since she is motivated not by money but by winning for the country. She brings two novel things to the table: one is her persistence and focus; secondly she is not media-shy. Aggression and purpose is what she brings to the table. Her brand value is definitely going to rise to a few per cent,” he notes.

Dentsu Impact Group Head - Brand Strategy Disha Bhattacharya, in the same vein, notes, "She is highly relatable to a majority of modern-day consumers and is also extremely articulate – two things that brands love! But, while being relatable, PV also manages to be aspirational! You don’t just want to praise her for her achievements, but also be like her. This gives her a big advantage that some other big endorsers lack. Furthermore, if we look at the landscape of endorsers, there is tremendous overexposure- with a handful of actors and cricketers dominating the field. Hence, due to her lower levels of exposure, PV Sindhu becomes a great, reliable option for brands."

Brand-Nomics MD Viren Razdan shares that the industry is rife with speculations that the shuttler is looking at doubling her fee for brand associations. “However, the transition from a sportsperson to a sports celebrity will enhance her eventual positioning. Champions have charisma which make them powerful icons. Otherwise her value spikes would be based on events and her performance in those. Her honest, down-to-earth values make her a valuable youth ambassador.”

Beyond fitness and sports brand endorsements

While brands in the fitness and sports industry are a natural fit for Sindhu, her persistent attitude and affinity for the youth has already pushed her in realms beyond just that.

Jain notes, “Apart from sports and fitness-related brands, PV Sindhu has been endorsing brands across industry segments from payment technology companies (VISA) to banks/insurance companies (Bank of Baroda, PNB Metlife) to sanitary products (Stayfree). She has been signed on as a brand ambassador for many brands since badminton has a mass appeal, and fans follow her for her expertise, excellence, and consistent on-field performance as well as her off-field charisma. Additionally, her social media following has increased to more than 7 million followers in the recent past. With brands increasingly targeting the social-media savvy young generation, millennial and Gen Z celebrities like PV Sindhu have become an obvious choice. She can probably add endorsements for new-age consumer and internet companies, digital platforms and other emerging technology-driven businesses to her repertoire.”

BC Web Wise Creative Director - UI, UX, Campaigns, Social & Content, Yorick Pinto continues, “Being the primary flag-bearer for women in sports, PV Sindhu is definitely an icon to a generation of Indians, especially young girls. Apart from her sporting accomplishments, her personal brand comes across as someone that's rooted, authentic and a positive role model, who's not afraid to wear her heart on her sleeve. I would see home-grown brands which reflect those values to approach her not just for traditional endorsements, but for building a one-on-one connection with their audiences. This could see multiple manifestations including opportunities for super-fans to meet her (either in person or via Insta/FB Live), masterclass for badminton enthusiasts with her, and also an opportunity for fans who'd like to own a piece of sporting memorabilia including autographed  merchandise or even PV Sindhu non-fungible tokens.”

He adds that, if used properly, she would make a good fit for brands from multiple categories including the edtech, fin-tech, ecommerce marketplaces, and even beauty & fashion and other lifestyle categories.

Bhattacharya concludes, "I think the best part about PV Sindhu as a brand in herself is her multidimensional personality. And, this gives her the advantage of going beyond the typical ‘Sportsperson’ associations.  

"I remember her mentioning in a few interviews that a few months before a very big match, her coach would get her to cut sugar from her life. And given the rise of no-sugar/ natural sugar products, her story could build a very interesting narrative for such brands.  
Furthermore, PV Sindu could also be a very interesting choice for a beauty brand’s campaign. Apart from being a beast in the court, she has often served some great looks in interviews and events. And considering the beauty category right now is all about disruption, changing the codes of beauty and showcasing more relatable faces, PV Sindhu could be an endorser that certainly gets eyeballs for such brands."

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