Women in cricket: Has The Endorsement Universe Found New Stars?

Women's Premier League has boosted the public profiles of women cricketers, enhancing their brand value and share in AdEx

by Nilanjana Basu
Published - March 14, 2023
5 minutes To Read
Women in cricket: Has The Endorsement Universe Found New Stars?

Till a few years ago there was hardly any chatter about women’s cricket but now it’s part of several conversations, thanks to the Women’s Premier League (WPL) and brands coming forth to support through endorsements and sponsorship deals.

WPL has bagged big sponsors like the TATA Group and Amul. Viacom18 has got the broadcast rights for five years at a price of Rs 951 crore, with each match valued at Rs 7.09 crore. As per reports, WPL is the second most expensive women's sports league in the world after the Women's National Basketball Association in the United States. Women’s cricket has also registered a decent audience, thanks to digital viewing formats.

We got experts to weigh in on whether this rise in brand value for women cricketers was here to stay and how brands could make the best use of these star players.

Building ‘Stars’

According to Samit Sinha, Managing Partner, Alchemist Brand Consulting, WPL is helping popularize women cricketers in India and adding to their brand value. “The launch of WPL and the hype in media will undoubtedly raise the public profiles of women cricketers, and not just for Indian women cricketers but also players in the league from other countries. I think this is a significant step for India in terms of popularising sportswomen in general, and enhancing their brand values. Their earnings from participation and brand endorsements have unfortunately been lower on an average than their male counterparts.”

Sharing more on the creation of star personas was Lloyd Mathias, Business Strategist and Angel Investor. “I think it (creation of WPL) is a very positive sign. It kind of indicates the importance of women's cricket. Therefore, in a sense, it will bring a lot of visibility to the sport and to women's cricket. And I think overall that will also get the attention of consumers, and therefore businesses and brands. So, I think it's a good step, it's going to help the cause of women's sports in general. I think it’s a good indication that women's sports is here to stay.”

Mathias cited instances of cricketers like Harmanpreet Kaur and Jemimah Rodrigues making it to the top headlines, for all the right reasons. “About 10 years back people hardly knew the names of women cricketers. Today most people can name quite a few. So, more media attention, more tournaments and more commercialization. This is going to be a big fillip to women's sports in general. And obviously, in terms of cricket, it'll create a lot more stars.”

Arshi Yasin, CEO & Co-founder of The Bridge, a publication focusing on women’s sports says WPL cricketers will soon become household names. "Cricket paves the way for other sports in our country - be it for men or women. So definitely WPL is the foundation and the first step in the growth of women in sports. It's a welcome move for a healthy and diverse sports ecosystem.”

Yasin further said that the rising popularity will attract brand endorsements and more women cricketers will now be seen in brand campaigns.”

Brand Talk

Shreya Sachdev, Head of Marketing at PUMA India, says WPL will do for women cricketers what IPL did for male players. “The brand value of the men’s IPL has jumped a staggering 318% from 2009 to 2022, and with it, that of the male cricketers who are part of the league. As a partner of Royal Challengers Bangalore men’s team, PUMA’s brand equity has received a positive boost, furthering our commitment towards driving sports culture in the country. We are confident that WPL will similarly bolster the brand value of cricketers and our association with the women’s team of RCB will undoubtedly be beneficial for our continued growth momentum as the leading sports brand in the country. WPL is a long-term investment for us and a significant extension of our objective to support women athletes across disciplines such as cricket, boxing, track and field, football and hockey.”

Another leading name in the sports endorsement world, Lakshmi Narayanan B, CMO - CEAT Limited said, "Indian cricket fans associate Strategic Time Out with CEAT. It’s been a long-standing association and we saw a huge opportunity to extend it to women’s premier league as well. Cricket is a passion for CEAT and as women’s cricket takes a larger stage within the country, we are very happy to be a part of this new paradigm which keeps us connected with our consumers."

Asked about the effect of WPL on women players’ contribution to ad expenditure, Mathias says, “I think this is a leg up, it'll always be dependent on the relevance of the sport. So, cricket is obviously important. But even in the past, we've seen when P V Sindhu won an Olympic medal, there was a surge in interest. Similarly, when Sania Mirza won grand slams and doubles, there was a big uptick for sport. I think whenever sportswomen do well, it creates a lot of noise. But a team sport like cricket getting all this attention is a very positive sign. It will surely draw the attention of businesses and brand marketers.”