Ace shuttler Saina Nehwal is turning out to be hot property in the celebrity endorsement market after a string of successes this year, most notably the gold medal she secured in the recently concluded Commonwealth Games.
Telecom giants Airtel are the latest in a series of corporates that have signed on the world No. 3 as their brand ambassador. Her endorsement value is understood to have reached the Rs 1 crore per deal mark.
"She is really in demand. A lot of companies want to associate with her. She has already signed up with Airtel and at least four firms operating in areas such as food and infrastructure will come on board very soon," Deccan Chargers Sporting Ventures Media Coordinator H Manjula said. Deccan Chargers Sporting Ventures handles Saina's account. Saina already endorses the Deccan Chronicle newspaper, Adani Wilmar's Fortune edible oil and Herbalife's nutritional product range.
According to industry analysts, Saina, who is seeded second at the Asian Games, was earlier charging around Rs 50 lakh per endorsement. She will now be able to command Rs 1 crore per deal after her CWG win. The higher rate is also supported by Saina's hat-trick of wins at the Indian Open, Singapore Open and the Indonesia Open Super Series in June this year. "Corporates are willing to pay that kind of money," Manjula added.
Saina herself agrees that her popularity has enhanced her brand equity. "Yes, after winning the titles, my fee has gone up and I am getting a lot of endorsements now. "I am happy that there is demand being created for sportspersons other than cricketers," Saina said.
According to her, the Airtel commercials will be shot after she returns from the Asian Games to be held in China from November 12.
The deal with Airtel catapults Saina into the club of leading sports and Bollywood celebrities, including Shahrukh Khan, Sachin Tendulkar, Kareena Kapoor, Saif Ali Khan and A R Rahman, who are either associated with the brand or have been in the past.
Gujarat-based Adani Wilmar, which signed on Saina as its brand ambassador for a one-year period for about Rs 50 lakh in August, also said it is open to extending the association with her."Though it is premature to say whether we will look at carrying on with her as the brand ambassador in the second year, we might look at that," Adani Wilmar COO Anshu Malik said.