Brand Hardik Pandya makes a hit, loses sponsor
NEW DELHI: Brands and companies are reviewing their association
with cricketers Hardik Pandya and KL Rahul after their
suspension on Friday following the duo’s sexist comments on women
during their appearance on a TV show.
Pandya’s deal with men’s shaving razor Gillette Mach3 Start was the first victim of the controversy as the company suspended it’s association with the cricketer. “Hardik Pandya’s recent comments do not reflect the values of Gillette. We have suspended our association with Hardik until we decide on further course of action,” a company spokesperson told TOI on Friday.
Rahul endorses brands such as, German sportswear maker Puma and Bengaluru-based fitness startup Curefit. Pandya has inked deals with around seven brands, including Gillette and D:FY, a sportswear brand launched by Puma India’s former boss Rajiv Mehta.
“As we have seen with celebrities such as Aamir Khan, who lost his endorsements after he made comments that did not go down well with a certain section of the audience or even golfer Tiger Woods who got embroiled in a controversy, Pandya and Rahul’s brand valuation may be impacted in the short run,” said Aviral Jain, MD at Duff & Phelps, which on Thursday released a report on celebrity brand rankings.
“However, if the BCCI decides to restrict a cricketer’s appearance at social events or on talk shows, there may be a bigger impact on the community,” he said.
While Puma India has clauses in its endorsement deals, which the company may exercise in the case of Rahul, a founding member of D:FY refused to comment on the brand’s association with Pandya. “We are a very small brand compared to the other ones endorsed by Pandya. You should speak to them,” he said.
“Both cricketers represent an aggressive, young and candid India,” said brand expert Harish Bijoor. “They speak the language of IPL cricket which may work well on Instagram but on traditional media, more votes will be against the youngsters. Not everybody shares the same set of values they endorse.”
Bijoor, however, said brands will play the wait-and-watch game before coming to a conclusion. “Fortunately, unlike an Aamir Khan, who was let go as brand ambassador by e-commerce company Snapdeal for his remarks in 2016, Pandya and Rahul are not big celebrity endorsers and are likely to have minimal impact on the brands they represent. However, there will be pressure on them to perform.”
Cricketers have contributed to the growing number of celebrity endorsements in India. For instance, captain Virat Kohli emerged as the country’s No. 1 celebrity endorser in 2018 twice in a row. Duff & Phelps pegged his brand value at $171 million, up 18% from the previous year.
While Bollywood stars hogged the top 20 celebrity brand rankings valued at $877 million, sportspersons provided tough competition as well. Kohli, Sachin Tendulkar, MS Dhoni and PV Sindhu collectively contributed around $241 million, which is over 27% of the cumulative brand value of the top 20 celebrities.