Mithali Raj, Harmanpreet Kaur take guard as endorsement stars

Harmanpreet Kaur (right) and Mithali Raj
When 28-year-old Harmanpreet Kaur scored 171 off 115 balls in the Women’s Cricket World Cup semi-final against Australia, she not only raised India’s hope of winning the tournament, but also got companies interested in her to endorse brands.

Kaur, along with captain Mithali Raj, 34, has emerged as the new favourite on the brand endorsement scene, thanks to her on-field exploits at the ICC World Cup in England. The team would meet the hosts in the final on Sunday. 

Queries from companies ranging from telecom service providers (Reliance Jio), handset (Oppo/Vivo) and consumer goods makers have already begun to come, say officials from celebrity management agencies that Business Standard spoke to. 

If India does manage to beat England, who are the world’s second ranked women’s cricket team, at the Lord’s, London, then these offers are likely to be formalised, they said.

While Kaur has never endorsed a brand before, Raj, who is the all-time leading run-getter in women’s one-day internationals, is an endorser for local brands such as Delux Sports Company, which manufactures cricket equipment in the country. 

Raj has also appeared as a celebrity guest on shows such as the Kapil Sharma Show on Sony channel and has a special Twitter emoji as part of the International Cricket Council’s (ICC) marketing of women’s cricket.

Indranil Das Blah, founding partner at Kwan Entertainment and Marketing Solutions, a Mumbai-based entertainment and sports marketing company, said both Raj and Kaur bring their own unique strengths to the table. 

“One is a legend (Raj), who has worked her way up through the years, while the other (Kaur) has established herself as a power hitter,” he said. “In many respects, the two athletes empower women immensely with their presence, and brands will look to capitalise on these attributes.” 

“Women’s cricket is witnessing what many call a Chak de moment. This will also goad brands to quickly tie-up with Kaur and Raj, the most visible and successful women cricket players currently,” Blah added.

Shah Rukh Khan’s 2007 film Chak De India about a former national hockey captain’s road to redemption propelled the sport from the shadows into the limelight. Corporate sponsors were willing to back the sport, thanks to how the film portrayed the trials and tribulations of a women’s hockey squad. The trend continues to this day.

While women’s cricket has no such mainstream movies to tell its story, both ICC and the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) have been aggressively pushing the sport in recent years. On Saturday, the BCCI announced that players of the women’s cricket team in the World Cup would get Rs 50 lakh each for their “stupendous” performance.

The BCCI also plans to push women’s cricket in the country after the World Cup, officials from the cricketing body said.

Estimates are Kaur and Raj will demand nothing less than Rs 10-15 lakh per brand a day as endorsement fees, which is lower than what many other women athletes including badminton stars and Olympic medalists P V Sindhu and Saina Nehwal, and tennis star Sania Mirza currently charge. 

Sources said Sindhu charged Rs 1.25 crore a day from brands, while Nehwal and Mirza charge about Rs 65-75 lakh a day as endorsement fees.

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