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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
Prashant Singh
Prashant Singh
Mithali Raj,Jhulan Goswami,Women's Cricket
The Indian skipper, Mithali Raj feels women’s cricket in India will “have a brand of its own” and doesn’t “require anything else to promote it anymore”.(AP)

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”.

Getting attention

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.

Brand experts feel since men’s cricket has been around for ages, it’s unfair to compare men’s and women’s crickets at this stage. ( AP )

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.”

Indian skipper, Mithali Raj feels India’s women cricketers too should get an IPL-like tournament. ( AP )

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.

Indian pacer, Jhulan Goswami is one of the world’s best women bowlers. ( Reuters )

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.”

Harmanpreet Kaur has emerged as one of the brightest Indian women cricketers after the just-concluded World Cup in the UK. ( Reuters )

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.

India’s Jhulan Goswami celebrates with team mates after taking a wicket in the finals of the Women’s World Cup against England at Lord’s cricket ground. ( Reuters )

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.

MS Dhoni is one of the highest-paid male cricketers in the brand world. ( HT Photo )

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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First Published: Jul 26, 2017 17:02 IST