A biopic on Mithali Raj? Brands eye Women In Blue after a strong outing at World Cup
After their scintillating performance at the World Cup, HT takes a look at how women cricketers’ probable ‘brand’ journey could turn out to be.bollywood Updated: Jul 26, 2017 17:06 IST
On Sunday (July 23), the Indian women’s cricket team lost a cliffhanger when they faced England in the finals of the Women’s World Cup, but the Women in Blue went on to win crores of hearts by playing like champions throughout the tournament. The Indian skipper, Mithali Raj, in fact stated that [after the world cup], women’s cricket in India will “have a brand of its own” and doesn’t “require anything else to promote it anymore”.
Clearly, Mithali hit the nail on its head vis-à-vis ‘brands’, as it’s believed that she and her team have attracted the attention of big brands in various categories such as financial services, FMCG and telecom. Interestingly, reports suggest that film producers have also shown interest in buying the rights for Mithali’s life story so they can make a biopic on her.
Advertising veteran and film-maker R Balki says, “Mark my words: it [women cricketers becoming brands] is going to happen for sure. It will take some time, but the turnaround will be much faster than what we are assuming. Men’s cricket has been around for ages now, so it’s unfair to compare them at this stage.”
A fresh take
Ad film-maker Vinil Mathew concurs. “It’s a very interesting phenomenon. Now, brands suddenly have a bunch of new, inspiring faces that are the toast of the nation. They are fresh and bring a lot of newness to the table unlike male cricketers, who do multiple brand endorsements and so, start looking a bit jaded.”
As per estimates, while Indian captain Mithali commands an endorsement price of around Rs 15-20 lakh, the other members of her team can draw around Rs 8-10 lakh per deal. In comparison, men’s cricketers are much costlier. As per a report, Indian men’s cricket team captain Virat Kohli’s endorsement fee is around Rs 5 crore a day, while MS Dhoni charges around Rs 3-3.5 crore per day.
Time bound process
But brand gurus are confident that things will change for the better for women’s cricket. Ad guru Alyque Padamsee says, “It will take some time [for things to change], but for that to happen, it is important that they perform consistently well and win tournaments on a regular basis like the top stars do.” He finds it assuring that everyone has started watching and keeping track of women’s cricket.
Industry professionals feel brands that don’t have pockets deep enough to rope in male cricketers will look to leverage women cricketers’ star value. However, experts insist that women’s cricket matches need to be in the spotlight constantly, be easily available to watch, and attract constant attention to create stronger and unabated brand recall.
The big brand value
Padamsee insists that continued performance will be key to raising the cricketers’ brand equity. He says, “After all, a star’s value goes up only when they perform like a star. How did (Sachin) Tendulkar become a star? By scoring consistent centuries. People as well as brands want to see an athlete perform consistently like a champion.”
Vinil, on his part, feels that women cricketers can help “break the clutter (in the ad world)”. “They come with their own set of inspirational stories and innocence. So, the people’s connection to them will be very strong,” he says.
Not too early
But isn’t it too early to compare men and women cricketers — for instance, Dhoni and Harmanpreet Kaur? Balki says, “When you watch a thundering knock such as Harmanpreet’s (she scored 171 runs against Australia) and consider the huge amount of interest people took in it, it proves that whether its men or women, ultimately, cricket is cricket regardless of the gender,” says Balki.
Padamsee has an interesting point to make vis-à-vis an IPL-like tournament (as suggested by Indian captain Mithali Raj) for women. “Looking at things, I am confident that whoever starts an IPL for women will be making a fortune,” he says.
Balki feels all the “good signs” for women’s cricket are already present. “During the finals, we saw a packed stadium at Lord’s and a huge spike in the TRPs. That means they [women cricketers] have already evinced a lot of interest. Things can only go upwards from this point,” he says.
The big bucks
As per reports, for their endorsements, Virat Kohli, on an average, charges around Rs 5 crore per day, MS Dhoni takes away Rs 3-3.5 crore per day, and PV Sindhu gets around Rs 1-1.5 crore per day. Bollywood stars such as Shah Rukh Khan and Aamir Khan charge Rs 3-3.5 crore per day. Kohli apparently endorses close to 20 brands, and Dhoni has around 15.
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