MUMBAI: The number of brands which associated with sports came down last year compared to 2011. However, international sports celebrities made a significant impact in this period, indicating the growing relevance of football and other global sports in India.
Only 128 unique brands placed their bets on sportspersons last year compared to 140 in 2011 even as more non-Indian sports celebrities were visible across different media platforms, according to findings of a study shared exclusively with TOI. Despite fewer individual brands piggybacking on sports, more sports celebrities were seen in advertisements throughout last year, said a study conducted by Tenvic, a sports training and consulting firm co-founded by former Indian Test cricket captain Anil Kumble.
"There could be seasonality attached to these numbers as 2011 was the year of the cricket world cup. But what is clearly a trend is the growing relevance of international sports celebrities in India. This is a result of the huge exposure to various football leagues and popularity of Formula One and golf. Today, global brands don't need to customize their campaigns for Indians as these sportspersons are familiar names now here as well," said Nitya Guruvayurappan, marketing head, Tenvic. In the brand endorsement space, football and Formula One will definitely get greater recognition, she said.
The influx of non-Indian sportspersons increased from being around 25% of the total volume in 2009 to up to 40-45% of sportspersons used as endorsers in 2010 and 2011. With the 2012 Olympics, the proportion of Indian sportspersons has once again gone up as a percentage of the total, since sportspersons from several Olympic sports were signed up by brands.
Still, cricket accounts for 45% of the entire sports endorsement market, followed by football at 17%, which is largely international in nature. What is interesting is that the cricketing endorser pool as a percentage of the total endorsers declined in 2011 as against 2009, despite it being the year of the cricket world cup. But most brands such as cola major PepsiCo which has been riding on sports largely cricket still bet on the sport. Homi Battiwalla, senior director, marketing, colas, juices & hydration, PepsiCo India, said, "Sports is a key communication platform for brands in our portfolio; whether it's cricket for Pepsi and Lay's or action sports forMountain Dew. Specifically with cricket, the sheer popularity of the sport in India makes it an exciting property to reach out to our target audience, especially youth."
The top 15 sports brand ambassadors in the 2009-2012 period make up for 50% of the total number of endorsement associations in this period, on a base of 140 sportspersons. This top 15 does not have any non-Indians. The top three endorsers, Dhoni, Sachin and Sehwag, have been consistent in the period 2009 to 2011, but last year Virat Kohli ousted Sehwag from the third position.
Badminton star Sania Nehwal is the biggest non-cricket star having endorsed 10 brands followed by retired footballer Baiching Bhutia, who associated with nine brands in this period, said the Tenvic study which tracked the Indian sports celebrity market over the last four years.