With an increase in interest around women’s cricket, we ask experts for tips and tricks on how brands can leverage the moment best.
In the recently announced 2019 edition of Top 100 Forbes India Celebrity list, several cricketers found a mention. Ranked 88, 90 and 91 respectively, Mithali Raj, Smrithi Mandhana and Harmanpreet Kaur were the only women cricketers in the list. These numbers are a testament of the brand value women cricketers have garnered over time.
Leveraging the Growth Wave
The rise of women’s cricket in India is a story of progression, strength, sweat and determination. Highlighting the extra work women sportspersons have to put in to overcome the barriers beyond the playing field, Babita Baruah, Managing Partner, GTB India shares her hopes from the ICC Women’s T20 World Cup. It would be interesting to see how brands have opted for an association, in terms of endorsements as well as media plans, she says.
“While we have seen cases of juice, energy drink and skincare brands with women cricketers as endorsers, it is nowhere close to what men command as fanbase and power of brand endorsements,” Baruah tells us, explaining how there is still a long way ahead. She further opines the reasoning behind the phenomenon, “When it comes to cricket, the comparison to men’s cricket and the sheer proven case ROI of associating with them works against the women, especially with brands that go by the playbook of optimisation of numbers. Also, many brands in India still talk to men as the primary audience, unless they are feminine brands.”
Looking with hope at the wave of change, Baruah says, “Our children are growing up in a world of equality and inclusiveness. In this world, an icon is defined by passion and not gender. Soon, brands will have no other option but to opt-in. Hopefully, women’s cricket in India will be at the forefront of this change.”
Finding a brand connect
Commenting on the mention of Mithali Raj, Smrithi Mandhana and Harmanpreet Kaur in the Forbes list, Vanita Keswani, CEO, Madison Media Sigma appreciates the campaigns brands like L’Oreal, Skechers, Combiflam Plus and B Natural have created with these cricketers.
She further tells us how the final match for ICC Women’s T20 World Cup scheduled on International Women’s Day is a topical opportunity that brands shouldn’t miss out on. “The world cup is showcasing equality through sports on the global stage. It is a great opportunity for associated brands to celebrate and amplify women empowerment and success,” Keswani quips.
The role of Communication
For the longest time, male celebrities have risen from the worlds of Bollywood and cricket. However, in the case of female celebrities, most names are Bollywood personalities. With the increasing popularity of women cricketers, there has been a significant shift in the way brands look at them.
Srija Chatterjee, MD Publicis Worldwide, India tells us about the role of media in the process. She says, “Today, new channels, like talk shows, have opened up for women cricketers to tell their stories. Here, we get to hear stories of how they have made their way from small towns to international cricket. They represent what’s happening in the country right now and the conversations around women empowerment.”
She further explains how these stories add to their endorsement value and have helped communication professionals look beyond Bollywood when searching for brand faces. From advertising during matches and investing in the sport to using them as celebrity faces for the brand and creating IPs with them is the trajectory a brand can follow if they wish to leverage the wave, she concludes.
With ICC Women’s T20 World Cup going Live on February 21, 2020 brands and viewers definitely have a lot to look out for.