Brands & Badminton: The romance has begun


Cinema and Cricket are the closing champions of the brand endorsement sport in India. Marketers in no way run out of money on the subject of the celebs of the ‘C’ universe. The 2016 Olympic Games changed the dynamics a touch bit, and now, between the shadows of two enormous ‘Cs,’ a ‘B’ has started to twinkle.

‘B’ stands for Badminton. And Pusarla Venkata (PV) Sindhu – the 23-year-old shuttler from Andhra Pradesh and Kidambi Srikanth became the torchbearers as sponsorship deals and logo endorsements touched new highs in a recreation that became as understated as its players.

It isn’t always as if Indian badminton had now not executed nicely in any respect within the beyond. Dizzy heights were done via gamers inside the past – Prakash Padukone turned into world No 1 lower back in 1980 and the primary Indian to win the All-England Championships; Pullela Gopichand followed suit 21 years later to emerge as best the second one Indian to seize the All-England Title. But it did not excite manufacturers to head after badminton with fats cheques, till about 3 or four years in the past.

Sindhu’s avenue to glory and riches is the stuff of legend. In 2016 at the Rio Olympics, she smashed her manner through to the finals and won India a Silver medal. That win unfolded vistas exceptional in the case of Indian Badminton. First off, the blocks become Baseline Ventures, a sports activities control organization. It snapped up Sindhu for a 3-year deal to control the participant’s branding profile, licensing, and endorsements. The manufacturers simply stored flocking to Sindhu after that, regularly breaking new floor – remaining year, as an instance, she has become Bridgestone India’s (the tire maker) first logo ambassador.

The icing on the cake came early this month, while Li-Ning roped in Sindhu for an Rs.50 crore, four-12 months endorsement deal in which she will be able to rise to Rs.10 crore a yr (Rs.40 crore as sponsorship and Rs.10 crore in the form of the gadget). The China-centered multinational sportswear and badminton device brand laid it out in fashion to wean her away from Japanese opponents Yonex. All this, despite Sindhu slipping, one ran to No 4 in the World Badminton Federation’s ranking.

This isn’t always the first big endorsement deal that Li-Ning has introduced. Last month, World No 7 Kidambi Srikanth became roped in for a sum of Rs.35 crore for a length of 4 years. As a part of the deal, Srikanth could make up to Rs.7.5 crore a year, relying on his performances on the court. He will also get badminton equipment really worth Rs—five crores over the following forty-eight months. Li-Ning did not stop there. It has also roped in the guys’ doubles pair of Manu Attri and B Sumeeth Reddy for a deal of Rs.4 crore each for 2 years. Commonwealth Games champion Parupalli Kashyap, too, was given a glance-in. He is said to have been offered Rs—eight crores for two years.

It is Sindhu’s rising reputation that helped her peg the high-value deal. “But Srikanth’s turned into a piece unexpected as he is but to be word-of-mouth in India,” says Shailesh Kapoor, founder & CEO, Ormax Media, a media consulting company. He adds, “Among athletes in India, Sindhu’s reputation i0s a long way beforehand of even the cricketers – barring Virat Kohli and MS Dhoni. The 2012 Olympic bronze winner, Saina Nehwal, is extensively popular.” So why is money chasing the badminton players now?


Li-Ning has its eye set at the Rs. Forty-five 000 crores plus sportswear marketplace in India. More than a badminton gadget manufacturer, it desires to establish itself as a sportswear logo, something it efficaciously did in China, wherein it has a turnover of $1.6 billion. “For Li-Ning, India is the second biggest market after China, and within the subsequent six months, we’re going to come into India hugely,” says Mahender Kapoor, director, Sunlight Sports Pte, Li-Ning’s distribution accomplice in 21 markets across Asia, Australia and New Zealand. Apart from Li-Ning, Singapore-based Sunlight Sports is also the exceptional multinational distributor for McDavid, Shock Doctor, Kason, and DHS (sports activities system and add-ons manufacturers). In India, Li-Ning and Sunlight Sports have a joint mission wherein the last looks after the brand’s operations. The JV has additionally related to Meerut-based totally – Indo Rubber – to distribute badminton gadgets in India. “Soon, we can have a comparable JV in Indonesia and Malaysia,” informs Kapoor.

Li-Ning’s India commercial enterprise is really worth around Rs.70 crore at this stage, ninety in step, with a cent of which comes from the sale of badminton equipment. Its rival, Yonex, currently rakes in close to Rs.250 crore, and Taiwan-primarily based Victor is close to Rs.15 crore in India. The regular size of the badminton market, as per enterprise estimates, may not be extra than Rs.500 crore. According to Mahender Kapoor, Li-Ning has earmarked Rs.600 crore to spend on advertising and communications over the subsequent 3 years. “Badminton is not our most effective cognizance. Li-Ning in China is like Nike around the arena. It is a sportswear brand that also manufactures badminton gadgets. In India, our aggressive push at this degree is on Badminton, and shortly we will compete with Nike and Adidas in the sportswear class too,” says an assured Mahender Kapoor.

In two years, Li-Ning desires to set up itself as a sportswear emblem to reckon with. Kapoor’s target is to achieve a ninety:10 ratio in which only 10 in keeping with a cent of the revenue comes from badminton and relaxation from the sportswear business. Reebok, Adidas, Nike, and Puma dominate the marketplace simultaneously as Skechers is one of the quickest growing manufacturers inside us a. “It is a phase in which anyone is attempting different things, and nobody has truly cracked it. Skechers has finished thoroughly and may end up the marketplace leader quickly; we too will observe a comparable strategy in India. We plan to provide consolation at a perfect charge,” informs Mahender Kapoor.

The sportswear marketplace has room for extra gamers,, believes Amit Gugnani, senior vice president, Fashion – Textiles, Apparel, and Engineering at Technopark (control consulting firm), “The market has visible top-notch reinvigoration as some distance as patron adoption goes, now not simply on the fundamental parameters which impact standard retail but also while looked at from the perspective of the sportswear category, which itself is getting reinvigorated in India. There has been a huge growth in people seeking out sportswear, which includes shoes, clothing, and associated add-ons,” says he, including, “Traditionally, India has had the Nikes, the Pumas, and the Adidases. There is simply scope for a new entrant to come in due to the fact the full wide variety of manufacturers continues to be very small.”


Sindhu has 14 brands in her kitty, which is the most by any non-cricket athlete within the united states of America. Her every-year income from brand endorsements after the Li-Ning deal is estimated to be around Rs.50 crore. Virat Kohli, who ranked No 83 in Forbes’ listing of maximum incomes athletes globally, makes round Rs.160 crore consistent with yr from the 17 brands he has in his kitty. In phrases of in line with day charges to, there’s a yawning hole between the two No 1s of their respective sports.

If it is a protracted-time period deal, Virat Kohli fees around Rs.2.5 crore per day, while Sindhu receives between Rs.1.5 and Rs.1.75 crore in step with the day. Sindhu’s prices stay the same in long or quick deals, but Kohli charges near Rs.5 crore in line with the day for shorter contracts. In India, manufacturers look beyond cricketers only when they cannot have the funds for them. But Saina and Sindhu are converting that line of thinking, believes Shailesh Kapoor. He says, “endorsements now are far greater than the commercials. The quantity of press coverage the brand ambassador gets is likewise very essential. Badminton is a sport where even though Sindhu and Saina lose inside the semis or quarters, you may not get bad press surrounding them, and that’s what makes them stand out for entrepreneurs.”

The ads, press, and hoardings play a critical role in beginning a verbal exchange on social media, driving the organic visitors and generating phrases of mouth. “The translation to social media like posting selfies with the hoarding, posing within the equal manner, blogs and vlogs being written and others are an essential part of emblem endorsements,” explains Shailesh Kapoor.

When it involves tv viewership, Cricket is some distance beforehand of different sports. According to Broadcast Audience Research Council (BARC) India, cricket insurance on TV become viewed through 711.6 million specific viewers among week 1 and week 52 of 2018. In the same tenure, badminton coverage becomes sampled via 228.4 million unique viewers. “Football is manner more popular than Badminton in India, but the reputation is pushed with the aid of Ronaldo, Messi, Neymar – international players. That does not serve the purpose of Indian brands. On the other hand, Sindhu turns out to be the right fit for brands who need to drive Desh Ke Liye sentiments, something they can’t do with Bollywood actresses,” points out Shailesh Kapoor.

Badminton nevertheless has plenty of catching up to do – compared to Cricket and Cinema. However, the sport has come an extended manner in the endorsement sport. In 2009, Li-Ning got here to India and roped in pinnacle tier gamers for Rs.10 lakh a year in step with the participant. The listing had names like Chetan Anand, Arvind Bhatt, Anup Sridhar, Jwala Gutta, and Ashwini Ponnappa. Yonex has given them all again. However, the Japanese organization needed to fork out lots extra. In 2013, Li-Ning was given both P V Sindhu and Kidambi Srikanth on board, however in 2015 – just before the Rio Olympics – Yonex managed to win the shuttlers back. Sources advocate that Yonex agreed to pay Sindhu Rs.Four.Five crores, three instances of what Li-Ning changed into paying her to game its emblem.

The fact that Badminton has hit the bull’s eye is clear from this bit of statistic – sponsorship offers have long gone up, on a mean, from Rs.10 lakh a year for a player just much less than a decade in the past to a dizzying Rs.10 crore a yr now only for Sindhu, regardless of Badminton’s low television viewership and engagement.