Women cricketers score big on brand associations

Ahead of ICC Women's T20 World Cup, brand expert discuss why the tides are turning in the favour of female players

e4m by Shreshtha Verma
Published: Jan 20, 2020 8:50 AM  | 5 min read
Women Cricket Team

Cricket is not only a sport in India but an important part of the culture. Indians have always idolised their cricketing heroes, from the first Indian batsman Lala Amarnath Bharadwaj to the present-day maverick of Indian cricket Virat Kohli. The game has also been a favourite for marketers too who cash in on viewers’ love for cricket and its superstars. On the other hand, brands haven’t focused much on women’s cricket, despite it being around for over also been around for over four decades.

With the 2020 edition of ICC Women’s T20 World Cup is just weeks away, we take a sneak peek at the evolution of women’s cricket in India with respect to brand association.

Earlier, women cricketers lagged behind in terms of commercial attention while their male counterparts like MS Dhoni, Virat Kohli, Sachin Tendulkar, Rohit Sharma and co. seemed to have great brand value.

But today, women cricketers are leaving stereotypes behind, performing well in the game and as brands. They have become a good choice for marketers, who are already queuing to sign them up.  Brands like L'Oreal, Skecher's, Combiflame and B Natural have been openly featuring female cricketers in their campaigns.

Experts believe that women's cricket today has a lot to offer in terms of brand association. The growing popularity of the game is one reason.

Viewership numbers recorded by BARC for 2018 indicate that women form 48 per cent of cricket viewers with 342 million in viewership. Interestingly, the tickets for the 2020 edition of ICC Women’s T20 World Cup, which is supposed to happen in Australia between 21 February and 8 March, are already sold out.

Ranjan Bargotra, President Crayons Advertising, expects to witness great brand associations during this tournament.

"After all, it's not like before when the stadiums used to stay empty during matches. It's the time when they are going houseful for women's matches too. How can we expect brands to not leverage this opportunity?" said Bargotra.

Now, with the changing discourse, the situation is becoming better for women's cricket and it is now evolving into a cult. Things actually started to change in 2017 when the Indian Women Cricket team made it to the finals of the ICC Women’s World Cup.

Over the years, the game evolved in form and strategies. While a few years ago, women cricketers were fighting for their recognition as a player, they are now making their entry to the list of Top 100 Forbes India Celebrity. Recently, the Celebrity 100 list of India had three women cricketers -- Mithali Raj, Harmanpreet Kaur and Smriti Mandhana.

With this, experts believe that there will be a hike in the brand value of female cricketers and a transformation of women’s cricket into a brand as a whole. 

Talking to exachnge4media Atul Srivastava, Founder and CEO Smartcricket.com, revealed that unlike before, women’s cricket has perfectly sustained itself for over the last two to three years. According to Srivastava, while women’s cricket is behind men’s cricket in terms of glamour and commercial attention. It needs five years to stand shoulder to shoulder with men's cricket.

Having worked with some leading cricketers male and female cricketers like Virat Kohli and Veda Krishnamurthy, Srivastava experienced those female cricketers have equal potential but are often beaten by Bollywood actresses in the race to win brand associations.

But the tide is slowly turning, with some of the female players already making their debut in ads.

While talking about the huge gap between men’s and women’s cricket, Srivastava said that it is all because of the mindset of our society. Earlier cricket was seen as a game for men but today, things are changing for the better. As an owner of a cricket academy, Srivastava told that he has seen an 8-10 per cent increase in the number of girls who join cricket academy. 

Here're some remarkable brand associations of women cricketers. These advertisements show that not just the small labels but even the biggest of brands have realized that now they cannot really connect with the audience without a little help from the female gems of Indian cricket.

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