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Cricket's poor cousins

Olympic medals don't impress advertisers.

Print Edition: October 19, 2008

Olympic medals don't impress advertisers.

Sania Mirza Rs 1 crore per endorsement per year
Sania Mirza
You would have thought Abhinav Bindra, he with the flashy Olympic gold medal, would have advertisers worshipping the very ground that he treads on. But you'd be wrong. He has signed no new deals since the Beijing Olympics, though his agent, Bonny Duggal, claims there are several offers. The dashingly handsome pugilist Vijender Kumar is somewhat better off on this front.he has managed to bag an endorsement deal with Bajaj Allianz General Insurance. "An Olympic medal doesn't have a shelf life beyond a year; so, unless your sport is constantly visible on the electronic media, or you find some way to remain in the news not just for your sporting exploits but also for your off-field activities, it's difficult to sustain the euphoria only on a medal," says Anirban Blah, CEO, Globosport, a sports management company.

Abhinav Bindra Rs 80 lakh to Rs 1 crore per endorsement per year, but only if he capitalises now
Abhinav Bindra
Can these new-age sports stars, then, hope to match the aura of India's cricketers? Probably not. "Even newcomers like Ishant Sharma may earn more than them," feels Harish Bijoor, Managing Director, Harish Bijoor Consults, an independent brand consultancy firm. Also, he feels, individual sports may not harvest the same passion as team sports.this despite the fact that badminton's Saina Nehwal has a higher potential brand value than football's Bhaichung Bhutia. "But then, our standing in football at a global level is nothing to be proud of," he elaborates. Interestingly though, Nehwal's current three-year contract with Aspire India, a manpower solutions company, is worth Rs 8 lakh while another, with a cervical cancer awareness organisation,
Vijender Kumar About Rs 20 lakh per deal, though given his looks and persona, he could rake in up to Rs 30 lakh
Vijender Kumar
is worth Rs 3.58 lakh.

Saina Nehwal About Rs 25 lakh
Saina Nehwal
Latika Khaneja, Director, Collage Sports, another sports management firm, adds: "Since the Olympics is a once-in-four-years event, you have to cash in on the moment and this where I feel both Bindra and Rajyavardhan Rathore have lost out." She points out that Bindra's handicap is that he lacks sex appeal, unlike, say, Sania Mirza, who despite plummeting to #92 in the  ATP rankings from the late-20s, has managed to retain her popularity on the endorsement circuit. "Sania seems to have modelled herself on Anna Kournikova.so, despite the lack of any Grand Slam titles, there's no dent in her brand value," she adds.
Rajyavardhan Rathore Rs 25-35 lakh for the existing deals. He may not get any new deals
Rajyavardhan Rathore
Of course, as Bijoor points out, the controversies she gets embroiled in also help.

Bhaichung Bhutia Rs 10-15 lakh
Bhaichung Bhutia
Even Rajyavardhan Rathore, the 2004 Athens Double Trap Shooting silver medallist, admits that the euphoria over winning a medal doesn't last too long. "One of the issues with me was that as a serving Army officer, I had to take approval from the authorities (which took a year in coming); so, advertisers who wanted to sign me immediately after I returned from Athens lost interest," he recalls, though he has Hero Honda and Coca-Cola in his kitty.

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