Shining Star Sindhu. Endorsement agent knew she had it in her…

19 Aug,2016


By A Correspondent


Baseline Ventures managing director Tuhin Mishra has a request.  Yes, Pusarla Venkata Sindhu is our client, but we wouldn’t like to have any photograph of her with us being put on MxMIndia. In fact that’s the reason why we just have a solo file picture of Sindhu and not one sent by her endorsement agents. Some others would do that, to cash in on the success.


Baseline is a full-service sports marketing, entertainment and brand licensing firm with multiple bases – Gurugram, Mumbai, Bengaluru, Los Angeles and Singapore and has been representing Sindhu for around two years.


Mishra, who was to be in Rio to witness the match, couldn’t make it as he has other commitments. But he’s sure of the bond with his client, and in fact he spoke with Sindhu after yesterday’s win.


So while he’s delighted with her win, he doesn’t show it in his conversation with MxMIndia on phone on earlier today (Friday).  Will we now have sponsors making a beeline for her? Will her endorsement fee leapfrog 10x? Will she chuck her earlier sponsor (Yonex) who must’ve got her for a song ?


No way, is what he seems to say to the last question. “We realise that there were sponsors who came on board when she wasn’t up there.” There’s no way Baseline will increase the endorsement fee for a Yonex which has been backing Sindhu for a while now.


But there are a couple of other big announcements coming up soon, he said. As early as next week, he hinted. Was the deal inked before the Olympics success? Yes, says Mishra, and doesn’t get drawn into whether the stakes will be increased now that Sindhu is a shining star.


The fee will of course increase, he does indicate, but the question is not about monies but what else the brand will do.


Will Baseline and Sindhu accept just about any sponsor… a Parag Sarees or Rajnigandha Pan Masala, for instance?  “We don’t want people who want to throw money at her,” responds Mishra emphatically. “We would prefer fewer brands, but who will do something [meaningful].”


So how did Baseline decide on managing Sindhu’s endorsement two years back, we asked Baseline. “When we started out we were looking at various sports. Badminton was in the radar and we found a coach like P Gopichand doing some great work. And he was doing that without any media spotlight. That suited us well as we also like to do our work quietly.”


Saina Nehwal was already big, and had someone representing her, and that’s when Baseline decided to look at managing Sindhu and K Srikanth.


But with Srikanth losing out in the medals race at the Olympics, will he still be relevant for endorsements. “Oh, he’s amazing. He’s a world champion and we are having some nice announcements for him too. It was just a matter of chance that in the quarter-final he faced the World #1 – who’s like the Roger Federer of badminton.”


Mishra believes that Srikanth has a good five-six years ahead of him. “He’s just 20 and the average age in which men play badminton championships is 25-26.” And what about Sindhu? “She too has age on her side.” Sindhu is 21 and the average age women play until at international tournaments, Mishra informed, is 24-25 years.


Will Sindhu’s help get more $$$s to badminton?  “It’s never an easy thing to get companies to look at sports outside of cricket in India,” he rues, but adds:  “Thankfully things are looking better.” Sponsors are getting good a return on their investments from other sports as well, avers Mishra.


Even though Mishra doesn’t reveal what a sportsperson like Sindhu earns from a sponsor citing confidentiality clauses in the contract, industry sources estimate it is in the region of Rs 50 lakh to 1.5 crore. And that will increase as our sportspersons do well, thereby increasing viewer and spectator interest.


Photograph of PV Sindhu is from the Premier Badminton League 2016 held in Mumbai in January 2016. Photograph by Jafar Khan/ Fotocorp


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