NEW DELHI: From a virtual non-entity to the country’s hottest property overnight, Abhinav Bindra has struck gold. Not just in Olympics. The Chandigarh shooter who picked up India’s first ever individual gold in Olympics is expected to see his brand value shooting up to a couple of crores, riding not only on his historic feat but also his youthful personality.
Despite shooting not being a well-followed sport in India, ad agencies, sponsors and celebrity management agencies are making a beeline to leverage the shooter’s feat at the Beijing Games. He is being seen as a high-potential name not only for youth-focused brands but also for mature categories such as insurance and banks, at least in the short to medium term.
McCann Erickson NCD & executive chairman Prasoon Joshi, whose clients include Coca-Cola, Chevrolet and Perfetti, told ET: “I will certainly be recommending Bindra to my clients. He brings a rare success and epitomises the positive Indian story. Sports other than cricket are the last thing we expect Indians to do well in as it does not come naturally to us, hence the victory is even more significant.”
For generations of Indians who grew up listening to the heartbreaking stories of Milkha Singh and PT Usha missing out on Olympic bronze medals by milli-seconds, Bindra is a hero. Sure, Rajyavardhan Rathore won an Olympics silver in 2004. But this is the real thing.
And his feat may finally bring less glamourous games such as archery, boxing and shooting to the spotlight, attracting big money in the form of corporate sponsors. “Bindra’s win is definitely going to spearhead a revolution for other sports in India. Believe me, if we can make cricket a religion in India, we have the potential to force all these big businesses to put in oodles of money for the sake of development of other sports, “says Percept Holding joint MD Shailendra Singh.
But for the moment all roads lead to Bindra. Celebrity management firm Collage Sports Management—which was managing Bindra’s work during 2003-06 when the only endorsement that happened was an association with Sahara Group—is now keen to renew its contract with the shooter. “We will definitely look at renewing our professional association with him.
He could be a huge endorsement star if he chooses to be,” says Collage Sports director Latika Khaneja. According to her, Bindra’s brand value—with a potential of Rs 2 crore per brands—could be at par with the country’s leading cricketers and Bollywood stars.
Others such as Percept Talent Management (PTM) and MS Dhoni-promoted Mindscapes Maestros are equally keen on signing up the shooter. Says PTM COO Vinita Bangard: “We will certainly approach him. The sport is niche and seasonal but if he is seen as the right places at the right time, he can become a huge success in the brand promotions space.”
“Bindra represents success, inner determination and a ray of hope. These attributes make him an icon of sorts,” says Percept Talent Management CEO Manish Porwal. “More significant, he stands for success from a micro vertical in life. Any brand in that space could try to align with him,” adds he.
“Until yesterday, Bindra was a mere shooter. He has transcended to become a legend and could be dubbed as the Neil Armstrong of Indian sports. In awe of cricket and Bollywood, Indian advertisers cannot miss him and the Olympics fete could easily spin off Rs 10-20 crore for him from Indian advertisers,” says Kuruvilla Abraham, founder and MD of TNQ Sponsorship (India), a Chennai-based sports marketing company that handled Bindra’s account for a brief period.