Indian opening batsman Shubman Gill, who celebrated his 24th birthday in September 2023, has not only been making waves on the cricket field but has also been garnering attention from it. With a passion for the game and a style of play that engages audiences, Gill has been nicknamed "Smoothman Gill" by Indian cricket commentator and former cricketer Sunil Gavaskar and is ascending the ladder of stardom.
According to Hansa Research’s IPLomania 2023 report, Shubman Gill topped the 'Emerging Cricketers Likeability' list, with 27 percent of the study respondents choosing him to be the ‘most liked’ player during this season and rose in the favorite players ranking from 69th in Men’s Indian Premier League 2022 to 5th this year.
Presently, Gill's brand affiliations encompass over 10 prominent companies, such as beatXP, CEAT, Fiama Men, Gillette India, and My11 Circle. His endorsements span across sectors, from personal care and consumer durables to online gaming. Notably, he has recently entered the financial services domain with the role of brand ambassador for Tata Capital.
Now, with The ICC Men’s World Cup around the corner, his brand value is expected to soar high.
Brand consultant and ex-brand head - Dunzo, Sai Ganesh believes that there will be no stopping right now for Gill because the World Cup is a huge event for marketing brands.
Shubman Gill has already signed up a lot of brands, including some big ones. In the coming year, I expect this trend to continue multifold, similar to Dhoni's peak when he was associated with around 25-30 brands simultaneously. That's the direction I see this heading.
Similarly, Vejay Anand, CEO, Ironhill India & Branding expert, believed that with the ICC Men's World Cup around the corner, Gill has an opportunity to impact and increase his brand value significantly. He pointed out that Gill is already a household name in India, and a good performance in the World Cup will make him a global brand ambassador for Indian cricket.
He shared some factors that could contribute to Gill's brand value soaring after the World Cup:
Performance: If Gill performs well in the World Cup, he will attract the attention of fans, sponsors, endorsement deals, and other opportunities globally.
Age: Gill is still only 24 years old, so he has a long career ahead of him. This is attractive to sponsors looking for athletes who can represent their brands for many years to come.
Personality: Gill is a likeable and down-to-earth individual. This makes him relatable to fans and sponsors.
Physical Appearance: Gill is a good-looking young man, which makes him marketable to brands that target a younger audience.
What makes Shubman an attractive endorser?
When it comes to what Shubman brings to the table for brands, the experts concur on several key factors. His talent is the foundation on which his brand image stands.
Harish Bijoor, a business and brand strategy expert, said, “It is all about his talent for a start. And then comes everything else, his attitude and tenacious standing power for two."
Bijoor further called him an ‘eyeball grabber’ and said, “Shubman Gill is a rising star with a viewer-magnet status."
On the other hand, Sai believes the brand looks younger with young brand ambassadors.
He said, “This suddenly makes your brand look younger without saying anything, and it feels like it is targeted towards the 21 to 25-year-old, which is the prime TG for most brands.”
As per experts, Gill’s target audience primarily falls within the 14 to 34 age group, who are usually active on social media and brands in clothing and fashion, consumer electronics, food and beverage, personal care, and entertainment space cater to this age group.
Similarly, Chandramouli Nilakantan, CEO, TRA Research & Blue Lotus Communications, believes that Gill is likely to have as high a female mix in his fandom as male.
He said, “At only 24, he comes with a blend of dedication, relentless effort, and exceptional talent that holds the potential to significantly benefit cricket in the foreseeable future. Good looking and articulate with a good following on social media, he brings engagement in the way that the youth relates to.”
He also emphasized talent plays a huge role in attracting brands complemented by high social media presence.
This was also evident in one of his recent campaigns for Tinder, where a die-hard fan requested the dating platform to match her with Gill. This integrated campaign helped Gill increase his visibility, too.
One of the first brands to collaborate with Gill, which has played an important role in shaping his image in the brandverse, was CEAT Tyres. The brand has been Gill’s bat sponsor since April 2018, after it signed a long-term partnership. The brand had Gill sport the CEAT sticker on his bat while also featuring him in media campaigns off the field.
Lakshmi Narayanan B, CMO, CEAT Ltd. highlighted the positive impact of Shubman Gill's association with the brand and pointed out that the runs scored by Gill doubled in IPL 2023 over 2021 and that he has delivered around seven centuries this year across various cricket formats.
He said, “The longer his presence on the field, the higher the visibility for our brand as he wields the CEAT bat; driving up our brand’s salience. Along with his on field performance, we have also witnessed a 4X increase in Shubman’s social media presence. This has significantly garnered high engagement for our brand when we engage with our fan base online.”
This social media following includes 8.4 million followers on Instagram, 1.3 million on X (formerly Twitter), and 2.6 million on Facebook.
Mitesh Kothari, Co-Founder, WRM said, "With a significant social media following, he has captured the attention of Gen Z and Millennials, especially among the guys who admire his skills, dedication, and that cool down-to-earth vibe he brings. What's more is how accessible he is to so many, given his humble beginnings and the hard-earned success he's achieved."
Aviral Jain, Managing Director of Kroll research agency, shared Gill’s latest Instagram statistics (source: HypeAuditor).
Jain said, “Given his ravishing batting technique, Shubman Gill is considered among the top-performing batsmen in the world today. His consistent on-the-field performance and off-the-field endearing personality have made him an attractive endorser among the top Indian sports celebrities. Further, he has a social media following with ~12 million followers across Facebook, Instagram and Twitter, and garners significant engagement with his fans on such digital platforms.”
Budding stars might attract more investment
From a young age, Gill found himself glued to the television screen watching Virat Kohli's batting and more than just entertainment, it became a source of inspiration. Eminent cricketing analysts and experts have pointed out the similarities between Gill and Kohli.
Sai is among those who see a parallel between Gill and Kohli, especially during his under-19 days. He believes that Gill’s brand value will continue to rise because it increased exponentially over time for cricketers like Kohli and Rohit Sharma. Drawing from his own experiences at TVS Motors during Kohli's under-19 debut, he emphasized the value of early investments in budding cricket stars.
"There's a huge cost benefit to it (brand) when you know this person is going to be a future star so it's an investment that brands are going to make in the early days of a person's career,” Sai Ganesh added.
This Ranji Trophy player's cricketing debut with the Indian Under-19 team in 2017 marked the inception of his remarkable career. Since then, he has steadily built a name for himself through performances on the cricket field.
Fast forward to 2023, six years after his initial foray into international cricket, Gill's form and centuries have garnered attention and admiration from brands and cricket enthusiasts.
Gill's journey from being auctioned by KKR for 1.8 Crore in his first IPL in 2018 to being retained by Gujarat Titans for Rs 8 Crore in IPL 2023 reflects his growth as a cricketer. His association with brands has further solidified his presence in the cricketing and advertising world. As he prepares to shine on the global stage in the ICC Men's World Cup, the prospects of his brand value soaring even higher in the coming year seem highly likely to experts.