After scripting history in Tokyo Olympics, hockey players to hog limelight in brand world: Experts
The men’s hockey team even before winning the bronze medal was seeing interest from advertisers.
The Indian men’s hockey team has clinched first Olympic medal in 41 years and this achievement will not go unnoticed by the brand world. “Hockey is the national game. The country is all about cricket. Now, hockey will also become mainstream. Star hockey players may see brands signing them,” said Sahil Chopra, Founder and CEO- iCubesWire, a digital marketing agency.
Darshan M, Founder of PLAY Sports, Media and Entertainment Pvt Ltd, concurs. “Hockey is an Indian sport. A medal like this will give visibility to the sport and will make kids want to get into hockey. There will be more attention and following which will indirectly contribute to brands following the individual sportspersons. And any brand building on national pride which looks at making in India for positioning, hockey is perfect because it is our game, unlike cricket or soccer.”
Darshan added, “another set of brands that would qualify will be those that focus on teamwork like delivery companies, banks, etc. Any business where you need multiple people to make things work associating with this game will work. Like for delivery platforms, from Swiggy to courier companies, it is the teamwork that involves packing guy to last-mile delivery guy and same is with hockey where it is a coordinated way to go forward.
Then comes the regional brands because hockey is big in Punjab and Haryana. “So, a farm equipment like tractor… would benefit from tying up with a hockey player and his glory,” Darshan said further.
Even Neerav Tomar, MD and CEO, IOS Sports, a sports marketing firm, that manages the portfolio of Manpreet Singh, captain of the Indian men’s hockey team, recently in an interview to Moneycontrol had said that hockey players are seeing interest from both national and regional brands.
In fact, the men’s hockey team even before winning the bronze medal was seeing interest from advertisers. Tomar had said that while some players like Singh may bag endorsement deals from national brands, others will secure deals from regional brands.
“In terms of commercial brand engagements, we have a set of heroes for both national and regional levels,” he had said. He had also pointed that the beauty of a sport like a hockey is that it creates 11-14 stars. If we look at top players like Manpreet Singh and Rupinder Pal Singh they have associated with big brands earlier.
In 2018, German footwear and apparel brand Adidas had got on board men’s hockey team captain Manpreet Singh to endorse the brand.
This year, another sportswear brand Puma had signed as many assigned 15 Olympic-bound Indian athletes and three para-athletes. And this included hockey players — Rupinder Pal Singh, Harmanpreet Singh, Mandeep Singh, Gurjant Singh. While the bronze medal will change things in terms of bagging endorsement deals for Indian hockey players, there still is a long way to go.
“There has to be consistency in the wins. And hockey has to find its way back into the national narrative. The players have to become easily recognizable faces. The game has to be more visible on television. Only then will brands warm up,” said Sandeep Goyal, MD, Rediffusion, an ad agency.