Bindra strikes more than gold

When Abhinav Bindra comes home with India’s first individual Olympics gold medal, he can look forward to the adulation of a nation.

From free lifetime travel on Indian Railways and on Spice Jet and Rs 1 crore from the Punjab Government, gifts are pouring in. Deals can also be expected to fill in the so-far-empty endorsement kitty of the young shooter.

“He has made a huge difference in how we perceive ourselves,” says Ms Latika Khaneja of Collage Sports Management, that handles his account. The Indian team’s official sponsor Samsung says it’s a dream come true and will be gifting Bindra Rs 20 lakh as per its incentive programme under its Olympic Ratna programme, says Ms Ruchika Batra, GM, Corporate Communications, Samsung.

Mr Kumar Subramaniam, Executive Brand Director, O&M, says Bindra has broken into the top notch of amateur sports.

“Depending on how the media takes his winning news forward, there would be a lot of brands which could use him.” FMCG companies who depend on mass appeal and pick the flavour of the month, typically a cricketer or Bollywood star, are the most likely to find value in Bindras’ new hero status, says Ms Khaneja.

He could wrap up deals bulkier than what an average cricketer attracts but fixing a price for Bindra’s endorsement is going to be tricky, warns Mr Mahesh Ranka, GM Relay Worldwide.

“There is no precedence of India winning a gold in the Olympics. Media frenzy in the next few days will get brand owners excited, and Bindra as a brand will get bigger once he is back,” he says. But India being a one sport country, the prospects for brands will have to be topical and tactical, says Ms Vinita Bangard, COO, Percept Talent Management.